Tweeting is kind of an act of resistance and defiance, a way of shouting to the sometimes disinterested world that you’re stubborn, proud, and not giving in as everywhere else is turned into a clone of everywhere else.
Every time somebody says to me, “It’s so impressive how you manage to get writing done despite being on Facebook/Twitter/etc. all the time,” I cringe. I’ve been hit by a backhanded compliment. I’m surfing, tweeting and emailing — leaving my digital prints everywhere and probably picking up some nasty computer viruses — while serious writers are working pristinely, heroically beyond the clutches of the Internet.
Jonathan Franzen found the Internet such a threat that he disabled it by plugging an Ethernet cable into his computer with super glue. The philosophy behind this act of almost rageful vandalism seems self-evident. Compared to the hard work of writing, the Internet gives an easy way out. Before, the writer took breaks for things like coffee, cigarettes, drugs — items that each have natural limits in the human body. But now, you’re basically working in an intellectual red-light district where, at any time — every three seconds if you want — you can dip into the constantly replenished streams of email/Facebook/Gawker/eBay/YouTube/Instagram.
It felt good. It felt right.
I would lose track of my computer. I’d find it in weird places, buried under stacks of books, under chairs, or creeping toward the appliance garage where the food processor lives.
Alexis Madrigal, Twitter Is Weird—and Other Things Fatherhood Taught Me, The Atlantic.
Madrigal, who recently had a baby, spent two months on break from being a “full-time information consumer,” and deprofessionalized his internet use:
The videogame world has a useful analogy: There people talk about “core” gamers versus other types. Core gamers overwhelmingly come from certain demographics and their behaviors and interests are distinct from the much larger group of people who play games sometimes. They have dedicated gaming hardware and try out lots of games. They care a lot about graphics and don’t mind mastering complex control systems. Casual gamers are different. They like easy-to-play games where the learning curve is not steep. And they don’t spend a ton of time or money on games.
In my normal life, like many other journalists, I am a core Internet user. But in the baby bubble, I became a casual user, just someone looking to read the news and keep up with friends and family.
FJP: The piece has some interesting insights about what the difference between the two is, which news consumption styles are best suited to Twitter, what a phone (versus a laptop) is good enough for and what an intertwined digital-analog life looks like.
Other than her church, the Waffle House was about the only place Rose felt comfortable going alone since Stan, her husband of 65 years, passed away last year. They used to eat at the restaurant together. From time to time she’d retell how the two of them met, a long and winding story involving a Ouija board and a flirtatious secretary rival.
from The End of the Waffle House by Jessica Contrera in the Indiana Daily Student.
The story is one of love, loss and local community, and it was reported and written by a senior at Indiana University. We point to it here because a) it’s moving and well-written and worth the 8 minute read, and b) we discovered it through Longreads.
Did you know that every week, Longreads features a piece of writing from a college journalist? And they are often great. So, college students and professors, keep that in mind as your write and report. You can e-mail your stories to Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher (email@example.com), who helps Longreads curate, or tag them on Twitter with #college & #longreads.
FJP: I’ve always been a little sad that the excellent work done in college newsrooms is hard to discover. Cheers to the curators who help us find all the good stuff. —Jihii