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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Random Thought
Whenever I buy something, and the clerk asks me, “do you want your receipt?”, the answer is almost always yes.  Receipts are perfect small pieces of paper for me to write little notes and observations on.

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