Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twittering to Another Extreme

Growing up in the Eastern world, I was told that westerners are reserved by nature and cherish their privacy. When making small talk, I was told, it is best to stick to general subjects - such as weather and sports. On matters of faith, politics and personal life, they tend to shy off from talking to strangers. There is a fair bit of truth in this. The emphasis on individual living, decision-making and making the individual a priority is distinctly a Western trait. And in the 21st century, "Western" is not a geographical reference, it includes numerous places in the east that have adopted these norms. The emphasis on personal, individual and private to me has been a bit extreme.

In contrast, eastern societies have been more community-based. Your business was often everybody's business. Home was always abode to multiple generations, so people got married and continued to live under the same roof as their parents and other siblings. Over time people slowly moved to their own space (which is why you never find the entire village living under the same roof). I find this a more moderate approach.

The thing about moderation is, it is like an engineering system that has stabilized. Extremism is akin to an oscillating system which goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. What's true for engineering systems seems to be true for social systems too.

It is true that many eastern societies seem to be rapidly adopting western ways along with western gadgets, tools and technology and that is subject for another discussion. For now, I am marveling at the fact that in a mere twenty years I have seen my otherwise reserved and private neighbors swing to the other extreme in a phenomenon called Twittering.

Its tag line says "What are you doing?" Is that something we need to broadcast? Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a Luddite and I do see some very good applications of the technology. What I am marveling at is the swing from one extreme of being so private as to being stuffy to being so non-private that trivia is being shared with EVERYONE. QED.

1 comment:

Muslim Kid said...

I couldn't agree more! twitter is pretty useless.

Like you said westerners value individualism and twitter and facebook status completely negate the point.

I think its more like, I'll do whatever I want and if someone says anything I'll just "Leave me to my privacy"

nice post.

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-The Muslim Kid