140 Characters

140 Characters

Ever since I was young, I incessantly took notes and wrote down observations.  Often times, they were about experiences I had, written generally within a couple of days of the events.  I also took many photographs, and countless pages of notes, but put simply, since the age of digital was still years away, many of the photographs failed to capture my true vision, and the pages of writing ended up getting lost, misplaced, or thrown away, either intentionally or by accident.

I was 16 when the Internet started to take shape.  At first, it was limited to dial-up BBS systems, then dial-up, and then finally, broadband.  As soon as it became feasible, I started my own website.  I posted various pictures, which at the time, had to be scanned by hand, one at a time, and due to the current technology at the time, remained relatively poor quality to allow for faster page loads.

As time went on, more and more people started their own websites.  Then one day, the Internet suddenly exploded with personal websites.  The majority of them I thought to be useless clutter; people posting stupid things that nobody could ever possibly use or benefit from, things started to get posted on the Internet simply because they could be.  As soon as blogging platforms came of age, things truly got out of hand.

Then came social media sites, like Facebook, and Twitter, which is considered micro-blogging, where posts are limited to 140 characters.  I believe that society depends on art and free expression to truly become great; social media websites are limiting our expression to a set number of characters, limiting progress, censoring free expression, and taking away from the realities of what it means to be human.  But most importantly, the Internet and social media has all but destroyed human interaction and communication.  In just a few short years, it has caused the current generation to grow up without social skills by limiting face-to-face interaction; a few years was all it took to destroy something that took forever to create.

When I first started to take my writing seriously, I was very articulate, passionate, detailed, and focused.  I have always believed that ones thoughts and words are powerful.  However, in recent times, those thoughts, ideas, and dreams remain behind a keyboard, and instead of being expressed, they posted for the world to see.  What truly needs to be seen often gets lost in a deluge of useless information.  We end up giving up on our hopes and dreams, ideas get stolen and cannibalized, and although we’re more connected than ever before in human history, we often feel isolated, forgotten, or abandoned.  It’s almost as if we live in a world full of people, every one of them is speaking, but nobody is listening.

This article was inspired by my father, who on August 24, 2012, tried out Twitter for the first time.  He posted 14 tweets before he decided that it was useless because of the 140 character limit.  My father passed away in the early morning hours of February 23, 2013.  His Twitter account, @harveyslatin, will forever display only 14 tweets.

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  • michaelower

    The internet has changed the world..people express their views freely on social media..the world has turned to a global village

  • jolly555

    The internet has helped almost everyone to express their views and I’m really enjoying it. Writing is my passion and I’m enjoying it now.

  • esgyll

    The internet is such a strange place. It is a space where people do indeed have managed to get closer without borders, but it is also due to the exchange of ideas and opinions so freely that it has also led to its often violent divide.

  • Danielle M

    I remember those times before internet… as there were not social websites you had to go out to meet the right people to show them your job, in the hope of getting and opportunity. I’m glad we get to see your job trought internet ’cause I realy like it.

  • Oyeyipo Oladele

    Your post are always full and accompanied with memories. I love you for your up-to-date mind. Thanks for sharing.

  • saviourv

    In my case, I think I take certain things to the extreme, at least, according to my mother.

    Like you, I’ve been keeping receipts and records of almost all my transactions that I’ve made every day. After a year, however, the receipts for my day-to-day transactions will be tossed into the trash or recycled.

    UNLIKE you (I hope), I also have a Microsoft Excel file, where I’ve documented those transactions, stretching back all the way to 2009. I’ve also posted up short descriptions and comments in that file, which, in a way, creates what I call a Chrono-Log of my life.

    It’s seen me through many things, both good and bad. Got married in 2010, divorced in 2016, and most of the transactions that happened in that time are in there.

    From the gifts I bought for my ex-wife, to the food that we ate, I noted them all, to the best of my ability.

    And some places I visited either flourished or died over the years, and both my eyes and that Excel file have borne witness to those happenings.

    I doubt that anyone else keeps records like I do, but if, somehow, someone does come across the file once I’ve left this mortal shell, perhaps that person might get an idea of how I lived my life.

    Which might be slightly more than 140 characters on Twitter, anyway.

    In our own way, Tom, you and I are witnesses to whatever goes on in Life. You have your camera, and I have my spreadsheet. And we do our best to make sense of a world that has and continues to change and evolve with every passing second.

    I wish you all the best, my friend.

    *bows respectfully, before leaving…*

  • Kitty

    This is a very good read. I always follow my passion. At times though life happens and we stray at that path. However, we can go back to that later on.

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