Thursday, January 13, 2011

Twitter Silence

I’ve been practicing Twitter silence this week. I realize this is a trend, with celebrities refraining from posting until their supporters contribute a certain amount to charity. My Twitter silence, though, isn’t anything to do with that (though if anyone feels moved to pull out their credit card to support the cause, I urge them to buy a copy of my book Fear of Nothing and read it). No, I’m off of Twitter because of technical difficulties. It has been said that if you have a Twitter account as badly mangled as mine has become, the best thing to do is delete all the tweets you can find in your account (which in my case, at the end, was only four), then wait a few days for the database to pull itself back together, and repeat several times if necessary. It seems like it could work.

Silence as a spiritual practice has a long and honorable history. Saints and mystics have been known to go for years in a row without saying anything. If you go for a weekend without speaking at all, or only when someone has a specific request or need, it can make you aware of your automatic habits of commenting, intruding, and seeking attention. I am discovering some of these points in my brief experiment with Twitter silence, even though I am not being silent in any other way, and even though that is not the purpose of my Twitter silence.

So much happens in my own life and in the world around me that I automatically think to comment on, and these thoughts echo louder when I can’t immediately write them down in my Twitter feed. It gives me the opportunity to pause and observe, and perhaps question, these thoughts. Which of my comments are actually valuable to the people who read them? Which are actually unique? When I search Twitter instead of writing a comment of my own, I find more often than not that someone else has already said the same thing I am thinking of saying — but on occasion, there are things I observe that everyone else has missed.

As a result of this experience, when I return to writing on Twitter, there may be a little less chatter and a little more depth in the things I write. At any rate, I will try to tweet better.