— Luke Waterfield (@lukewaterfield) August 3, 2012
I was at the Olympic Park earlier this week, and for technical reasons I was unable to share this fact via my social networks. As Luke says above, this absence of the need to login and share is indeed ‘freedom’, but nevertheless the unease took a few minutes to wear off.
This feeling should not be written off as mere addiction. The desire to tweet and share and document is not always a sign that we are slaves to technology. As well as being a means to share, these technologies are also simple aide memoirs, reminding us where we read something, or when we went somewhere and who we spent time with. The value of such archives depends, to a large extent, on their completeness (this is also true for a lot of digital art like timelapse montages, which are another type of archive). In my senile years I anticipate being grateful that I compiled a comprehensive diary of my activities.
For me, the main unease generated by my missing smart phone was not that I could no longer (over)share, but that I would not be able to fill the regular moments of downtime that city living always presents. The time spent waiting for a bus or on a platform is no bother when you have a near-infintie supply of quick and quirky messages to read. Kipling’s penultimate stanza “If you can fill an unforgiving minute / With sixty second’s worth of distance run” sticks in my head. Does the tweeting count as a useful way to spend that “unforgiving minute”?