The Pace

Gerhard Richter 03

Gerhard Richter painting. Source.

Twitter is the absolute triumph of thoughtlessness. Of course, there should be thousands—perhaps even millions—of users with which valuable interactions can be achieved through Twitter, people to follow, but the very dynamic of the platform sabotages close engagements. Ultimately, most users are people and therefore somebody else’s everything. There’s also a fallacy in the idea of having more human interactions in person than the ones we can have in social media: nothing more human than our invented and agreed means of communication. A warm palm holding someone else’s is indeed less human than an acronym sent through the web, a given, almost an inevitability. As beings thrown senselessly into—or rather across—existence, one’s breath against another one’s seems a sort of fate or, as religious people like to think, someone else’s will, a natural event—opposite to artificial, which is to say opposite to human. So is with thought. Every now and then, it seemed unavoidable to gaze at the stars and wonder, but we as a species have worked tirelessly to not have those natural reactions anymore. (Yes, thinking is wondering; having questions and challenging them and posing theories, crazy ones even, without ever ranking their value—just, if anything, their closeness to reality.) Not to think or to think the least, but functioning still, has been the unspoken goal of modernity—achieved now by the idol of efficiency. Thinking was our fatal, natural condition; merely functioning is our hyper-human condition. But I mentioned Twitter. I see everybody follows hundreds, thousands of people. You cannot have a conversation with that many users, of course, but the mistake is mine: Twitter is not for conversations but for efficient communication. A + B, done, moving on. There’s neither time nor space for a thought. But there are philosophers in Twitter, authors, artists, dilettantes—often better than the professionals—am I implying that they do not think or that some of their thoughts are not displayed all over their accounts? No, that isn’t either. It’s the pace of it all. Nothing remains, there’s always the rush for a new wave of gray over gray. A user could write a sparking idea with honest curiosity, even a handful of people could catch it, share it; sooner than later it will become virtual roadkill, nonetheless.

The only advice I can come up with is: follow only a handful of essential accounts, say little. Fight the pace.