Friday, December 11, 2009

Twittering Our Days Away

On The Community Front, More Action, Less Chat

The Twitter phenomenon is all the rage! Why, according to published reports, it has already surpassed Facebook as a favored mode of communication.

Wow! Whatever happened to talking? A good old face-to-face discourse. Lost art, we fear. Replaced by texts, emoticons, and tweets.

So what is it with Twitter? Does it really keep us all connected and up to the minute (as if we really need to know what our friends -- or worse yet, people we never even met -- are doing at this precise moment in time), or is it part of the great disconnect, like e-mails and text messages, that, in actuality, isolate us from neighbors, friends, and, yes, community.

Sure, we can "communicate" without end by text and tweet, never having to look anyone in the eye, pat anyone on the back, or even respond to a tough question when we're put on the spot.

Blackberry in hand, Bluetooth in ear, we are oblivious to the world around us.

Where's the warmth, the personal interaction, the body language?

And how is it that, while we have so little time to have an actual conversation with family, friends, or significant others in our lives, we seem to have an abundance of time -- doesn't anybody work anymore -- to tweet all day long?

Okay. While we're on the subject, why is it, in the world of community advocacy -- from rebuilding downtown to reclaiming brownfields, and everything in between -- we spend so much time and energy in the political equivalent of tweeting and texting, and so little in actually getting the job done.

We host forums, attend planning meetings, create committees, and commit to seemingly endless visioning sessions -- some even virtual. We write letters, op-ed pieces, and post blogs. We discuss, from near and far, and debate, without apparent cloture. We even spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to study, survey, poll and research -- only to find out what we already knew.

The result? Not half as much as we had hoped for, planned on, or, for that matter, talked about.

No. Rome wasn't built in a day. In this century, perhaps? Why is it always one step forward (if that), two steps back?

On a personal, intimate level, perhaps we need to talk more, tweet less. In our more global endeavors to create a viable, sustainable community here on Long Island, however, better a little less talk, and a whole lot more action.

If only, just for a day, we could turn off our cell phones (we said off, not silent or vibrate), skip the e-mails, and forego the tweets, maybe, just maybe, we'd be able to really communicate with one another.

And if we could move beyond the talk, taking our vision of suburbia from table to street, perhaps the fruits of our advocacy and activism would come to bear in this community we call Long Island.

Happy holidays to all from your friends, neighbors, and fellow tweeters ( at The Community Alliance!

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