If you're not one of the 3 million people following John Mayer on Twitter (@johncmayer), you might not know about his "One Week Digital Cleanse." Here's an excerpt of the plan from his blog (written before the cleanse began, obviously):
Mention to anyone with computer savvy that your laptop has somehow gotten slower over recent months and they’ll ask you the same thing: “have you defragmented your hard drive?” Defragmenting works by taking small slivers of information stored in various locations and consolidating them so that they’re in the same place on the drive and thus easier to access in larger chunks. Hard drive fragmentation is a great metaphor for - if not a literal manifestation of - what’s happened to our brains over years and years of processing small bursts of information.
I agree with some of what Mr. Mayer's getting at here--as a society, we seem to be developing a serious case of ADD. But his ideas for a digital cleanse only strip the useful aspects of social media, allowing the cumbersome and time consuming elements. If you receive an email, JC says, you must reply from a laptop or a desktop. If you receive a text, you must respond with a phone call (yes, you're allowed to read texts and carry a phone). Most importantly, @johncmayer seems to say, ABSOLUTELY NO TWITTER.
Leaving aside the fact that this man spends more time tweeting than writing music, he's totally missed the mark about digital dependence. So many of the social media trends of the last few years have led to a less fragmented way of living. Twitter is possibly the best example of this phenomenon--it is arguably the most immediate and furthest reaching means of distributing relevant information. In only a few seconds, I can either communicate with all of my contacts and with anyone who might find my thoughts useful, or I can search for the most recent information about what's important to me at the time (even what's most recent in my exact location!). Seems to me that by accessing information while it's relevant would only serve to "consolidate [information] so that [it's] in the same place on the drive and thus easier to access in larger chunks."
Social technology is making the world richer; it makes each chunk of information contain more elements. John Mayer's "cleanse" of social media is only serving to fragment his life more, but if it keeps him off of Twitter for a while, maybe I should keep my mouth shut.