Thinking, Blogging, Tweeting

It is of great importance to my life that I spend time in contemplative thought. Usually this takes place through paying attention to what I’m reading and capturing perceptions in my notebooks, occasionally here on my personal blog and, less often these days, on social media. Paying attention in this way increases my capacity to retain information and appears to give me greater ability to recall knowledge to my thoughts when there is occasion to apply it in some way, either in writing or in conversation. This blog is coming up to its tenth anniversary. Blogging about my reading life changed the way I read, what I read, what I retain from the books I read, and through blogging I’ve made some deep and enduring friendships.

As social media usage, Twitter in particular, became more prevalent, comments in reply to blog posts became less common. In its early days Twitter was a good way to converse with friends, often in the privacy of one-to-one conversations (direct messages), but every now and again there was a sharp reminder that it is a highly public space. It was nevertheless still a good place to make friends that wouldn’t have been made elsewhere. It is also a form of commonplace book where I save and share short form quotations from the books I’m reading.

These days I spend much less time on Twitter. I’ve tried to make it less frustrating by disabling everyone’s retweets and following fewer people, but it is still harder, especially with the loathsome ‘quoted with comment tweets’, to filter out the mock outrage or the fatuous ‘tweet storms’ that accompany a celebrity death, the latest Trump sound bite, or the bandwagon that builds around well-marketed books. It is also impossible to filter out the sometimes stupid, but often not, just merely pointless snarky replies to tweets from people who must make their Opinion known. If using a public Twitter account, this is the price you pay for being in that vast public arena. I de-activate from time to time but I am pathetically irresolute and end up coming back after a week or two, missing some of the book talk from my Twitter feed. I keep hoping for a Twitter alternative but none seem to gain much traction.

I thought briefly about the symbolism of closing this blog on 25th January 2019, ten years after its birth, but it still plays a critical part in my life of contemplation. It is also still instrumental in its way in building friendships with people around the world that share a broadly similar taste in books. It is unquestionably harder to cope with the signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter, but for now I persist there while trying to ignore outraged Twitter. For the first time in several years I have a Facebook presence, primarily to keep loosely in contact with family and friends.

27 thoughts on “Thinking, Blogging, Tweeting

  1. I know what you mean about the noise on Twitter: it’s almost as if you need to have an opinion on EVERYthing and make it KNOWN! I too prefer to converse in the relative quiet of the blogs (well, at least in my blog, which does not have many visitors) and I hope you won’t stop blogging, as I really enjoy your snippets of thought and musings about your reading.

    • Twitter always reminds me of that party bore that incessantly jumps into conversational groups, certain beyond doubt that his Opinion (it is always his) must be heard. And thank you, I expect to be blogging in some form for some time to come.

  2. I know where you’re coming from re Twitter – I regularly cut back on the amount of time I spend on there because it can be very toxic and have a negative and draining effect. But I do hope you keep blogging – even if I don’t always comment, I do find your posts very profound and thoughtful.

  3. I, too, enjoyed the cultured side of Twitter, if that is what it should be called, but could not really find a way to feel either too “in” (drawn into following the storms) or too “out” (pestering people with my semi-public conversations with friends). I did miss the book talk at first, but now I get quite a lot of it through a range of blogs and newsletters.

    I really like your blog. I love the way it forms a coherent narrative as each text leads to another. It is unpredictable, but makes perfect sense. Guess it is like life, then.

  4. I’ve also considered closing my blog but I enjoy the form too much, the ability to write a few thoughts or at length about a book that has affected me or inspired me, and know or hope that someone else has read the same thing and might have a comment, or that someone else might then go looking for a book that I found especially interesting or curious. Blogging feels more connective than any other social media platform, but it is more work and takes more time, and I’m increasingly bad at it. Hoping to turn that around in the months to come because I much prefer the conversations in this form, than any other. Very glad you aren’t closing yours, and always delighted to keep up with your reading this way.

    • So pleased that you aren’t closing your blog. And I’ll be even more pleased if you manage to find the time to write more. I’m with you. I’d rather be conversing on blogs than in other forms of social media.

  5. It was going to be just another tweet; a slight dash of comment, a heart-shaped like. Your words put a stop to that!

    A good and fair piece on Twitter, which made me think more about blogs: that they might be the best forum – better than newspapers, magazines and journals – to build a community of readers. I’ll throw in my opinion: don’t chuck Twitter – your idea of using it as a commonplace book is a good one.

    Wonderfully acute on the link between reading and writing. I think you are absolutely right: it both changes and deepens our reading. Would you really consider closing the blog? Surely you’d start another right away!… Reading only ever half the experience of a book, the other half is writing about it.

    • You are right. If I ever closed this blog, it would be to experiment with another form somewhere else. I’ve found writing and talking about books essential to my full appreciation.

  6. Please keep blogging but also tweeting – as commonplace book, as noticeboard. I find reading both blog & tweets very useful. And clearly they help you clarify your thoughts on your reading too. For me, they have led me to new books & deepened appreciation of books I’ve already read. You slow me down, in a good way!

    • I’m sure I’ll be blogging for as long as I’m reading in some form or other. I won’t make any promises about Twitter. When I am active on Twitter I read fewer books. Disabling most people’s retweets is the best thing I’ve done on Twitter as I am less exposed to marketing and the outrage of the day.

  7. As others have said, I’d be sorry to lose your blog posts – they’re always stimulating and intelligent. Good to hear you don’t intend stopping. I too have occasionally wondered why I bother, given the small number of readers I seem to get (I’m like Marina, see comment above) in that respect, so can quite understand what you mean when you say it helps you think through what you’ve read. As for Twitter – no need to say more.

    • I’ve been looking for a half decent edition of the VS Pritchett stories after thoroughly enjoying your recent review. You write attentive, thoughtful reviews. I like them very much.

      • Ah, thanks. That means a lot to me. Part of the doubts I sometimes feel about blogging arises from the sense that I’m writing just for myself. It’s always good when dialogue happens – like this one!

  8. If by closing the blog you were considering not adding entries to it, I’d be more reticent to discourage you. If you meant shutting it down, I’d’ve done a ‘please, god, no.” Not only because it’s a record & resource, and a valuable one not just to me, or for sure other readers, but also, I suspect, would be to you a missed one should it be disappeared. I’ve witnessed how others have deleted theirs; it always struck me as melodramatic — though in the context of this entry I can understand how keeping one on-line would only defeat the purpose of discontinuation. (Interestingly, I dig TFS because reading w/o commenting suffices.)

    Tempting is the task to find a real world analogy for how the expansion of the types of social media have affected the Life of Blog. It would be in the hope of shedding light on the ironic aimlessness with which this evolution has come about. My first whiff of Twitter had me shaking my head, what with its ‘what I’m doing at the moment’ jumping off point. Years later when I jumped myself it quickly became apparent that it just cannot be followed. It is a million-to-one distraction > value, im[ahem]ho. Anyway, please carry on.

    • Melodramatic … yes, I understand that view. I prefer to think symbolic. Everything passes etc. Shutting TFS would be the impetus to start TFS2. But I don’t expect to do either.

      Twitter is terrible. And yet I’ve made some dear friends I wouldn’t have made without being there and occasionally it leads somewhere worthwhile.

  9. Anthony, we have exchanged some comments in this blog. We haven’t become “familiar “, but it’s one of the three blogs I follow consistently. Not to say how much I’ve learned from your comments and how many books I’ve read because of you. It will be sad not to have you around. I have my on blog and a website with a friend of mine and i know how time consuming it is. However, I take this, reading and posting, as a kind of priesthood in a world needed of rituals and sacrifices. I hope you stay blogging for the sake of many of us who devotedly read your posts.

    • Thanks, htirado, for that wonderful message. I’m overly fond of symbolic gestures and for a moment there seemed something in stopping on the blog’s 10th anniversary. But I’ll go on and review after another ten.

  10. As always, your blog is a wonderful respite from the rest of the Internet. I’m currently reading Compass on your (and others) recommendation, and while I’m struggling with some aspects of it due to the overall geopolitical climate I wouldn’t have discovered it if not for your thoughtful posts.
    I hear you on Twitter even though I know I’m occasionally guilty of bad practices there. I do have to share some concerns about Facebook, which in my mind is the worst of the social platforms (awful content and awful practices). But again, it’s hard to stay away from all of these places and still maintain contact with others!

  11. I find social media to be problematic, too, in many ways. I have stopped looking at Instagram because I found it to be a waste of time, and at my age (48), I don’t care what the latest “guru” (I use that term loosely) with a huge following has to say. I have greatly reduced my Facebook time, and I use Twitter strictly for book recommendations. I have so enjoyed your blog, and I have gotten wonderful recommendations from you even though I don’t know you. Even though I work in academia (I write grants) and even though my friends are all educated like me (with at least one advanced degree), I do not have anyone in real life with whom I can share my love of literature and books so I have to find a discussion online. I’m glad you will keep blogging because I really enjoy what you have to say. It is one of the few I read regularly.

  12. A friend of mine encouraged me to join Twitter, some years ago to promote my blog, and to my regret went for it, I feel pretty much like you do today, some great people there, but I wish the day will come to give me strength to shut it off for good!

    Although, the time I spend there it’s now very limited, and mainly to be in touch with the nice people I had met there.

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