Wnek: Zen and the Art of Twittering
Our Creative Columnist on Embracing the Microblog
There’s a famous IQ test that goes like this: Using as much rope as you need, how would you get across the Grand Canyon? Many of the smartest people of my generation I know got stumped by this one. The answer is: You fill the Grand Canyon with rope and then walk across on top of it.
The mental gymnastics required to get to the solution is interesting because it’s about doing the opposite of what comes naturally. Traditional solving is a matter of focusing and cutting away the extraneous. Here the mind needs to open itself out, to achieve a state of abundance.
All the above occurred to me as I was tweeting from Japan recently. I love Twitter for the way in which it plugs you in to a live, worldwide intellectual electricity grid. It’s a marvelous educational tool for me, and the jewels embedded in many tweets in the shape of references, links and personal thoughts that my fellow Twitterati post broaden my mind like few things do.
It was a liberating sensation to be on the other side of the world in Japan, itself an exotic sensory experience, and periodically checking in with my brother and sister Twitterers and being additionally stimulated in completely different but equally exotic directions — like, for instance, checking out San Francisco dweller Ming Yeow Ng’s web-design presentation, “Discovery is the new cocaine,” or witnessing the steel-cage death match on TechCrunch prompted by a Wharton professor who believes advertising on the internet is toast.
Many people are intimidated by the abundance the digital world offers. There are all kinds of ways of categorizing these people, age and occupation being the two most common. While I think this is wrong, there is a spooky echo of my grandparents’ contempt for long hair on men and color TV, my parents’ contempt for rock music and flared trousers, my big sister’s contempt for punk rock and piercings, in most boomers’ (often very subtle, often subconscious) resistance to the new world.
It all comes down to how you were educated. Those defeated by the Grand Canyon test are defeated because most education has always actually been about narrowing the mind. Those with less-conventional upbringings — and to suggest this means only NetGeners is ageist nonsense — aren’t necessarily in thrall first and foremost to intellectual order and tidiness. Being open, ceding control, enjoying the journey, embracing abundance thrills them. You’re either lucky enough to be in that group or you’re probably still complaining about things like the Facebook redesign and how flawed Wikipedia is.
For the record, my view, both personal and professional, is the same as former racing driver Mario Andretti’s: If you’re in control, you’re not going fast enough.