2010 is off to a fine start, with unseasonably warm weather here (33 F) and a pile of interesting work to do.
I've made several New Year's resolutions, most of which I won't share here, but the biggest and most important one is to stop wasting my time on things that annoy me, just because some mythical "them" seems to expect me to play along. These are five things I plan to avoid in 2010, and wish would go away.
1. Twitter. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Twitter is the devil, especially for long-form authors. It's a distraction and a time suck. It's noise without content and technology without meaning. It is the news crawl at the bottom of a TV screen, but it's worse than that, because it consumes time and attention that people used to spend reading or in conversation with live human beings. It creates an illusion of community without responsibility, and therefore without true benefits. It's already lasted longer than I thought it would, because of its most insidious danger: it offers the illusion that someone, anyone is paying attention to what you say, 24 hours a day.
2. The Twitter symbols, # and @. I don't use hashmarks and I don't use that stupid @ sign, and I don't want to see them any more. I don't want to be part of a hive mind or groupthink or a cultural phenomenon. I'm 44 years old, I live a life of deliberate and willful eccentricity, and I refuse to embrace electronic tropes that offer my adolescent self the illusion of fitting in with a cooler crowd. I have friends in the real world, dammit.
3. Facebook friend requests from people who want to sell me things. Yes, I'm on Facebook; I don't find that inconsistent. Facebook's a virtual break room for me, and I have far more control over the noise levels there. Also, it's more of a two-way street than Twitter is. That said, I made the mistake early on of accepting Facebook friend requests from people I don't know, and from authors looking for new readers. I stopped taking friend requests from strangers a while back, and am now paring down my friends list to people I actually know, or have some meaningful connection with.
4. Textspeak. I was tired of "LOL" five years ago. Now I can't see it without wanting to snarl. How is it more expressive than a simple "Ha!"? No more abbreviations. No more acronyms. Spell it out. I correct people's spelling and punctuation for a living, but I also do it because I enjoy it. Don't push me.
5. The E! Network. It astonishes me how E!, which started out as a channel designed to report on celebrities, decided that it didn't have enough celebrities to cover and therefore needed to invent its own — so now we have an entire subculture of people who are "famous" only because they appear on a network that allegedly features famous people. On the one hand, this is almost admirable; I've always said that anything (or anyone) is interesting if you look at it closely enough, and E! seems determined to prove it. But do they have to choose such trashy, vapid people? Couldn't they at least feature people who speak in complete sentences, and do things other than shop? I didn't spend much time watching E! before, but one of my New Year's resolutions is to quit it altogether, even though that means giving up "The Soup" as well. I'll miss "The Soup," but a good New Year's resolution always involves a certain amount of sacrifice.
What are you planning to avoid this year?