x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Communicating overkill

Our columnist finds keeping on top of the rapid-fire world of online communicating is just too much trouble.

Keeping up with the online Joneses is a somewhat exhausting pastime.

Many moons ago, when I was a scruffy, misunderstood teenager with a haircut that made me look like the lost member of the Osmonds, a friend set up a pirate radio station from his bedroom. Using a makeshift antenna and budget transmitter, he was able to broadcast his voice and the occasional track to a radius of about 100 metres. There he was, I thought, speaking out to literally tens of people, assuming they knew the right longwave frequency and really wanted to listen to his childish ramblings before he was called downstairs for dinner. At the time, it seemed incredible. Nowadays, however, he'd be laughed out of the playground and probably have mud thrown at him for using such primitive communication methods.

To get your voice heard in the 21st century, there are a frankly exhausting number of tools at your disposal. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, comment sections - the list grows each week. But where do you start? To which areas should you give preference? And how are you supposed to fit it all in around having a normal life and doing normal things?

Take Twitter. I recently decided that it was time I joined this newfangled messaging service and, over the course of a few months, despite sporadic and utterly meaningless postings, attracted the grand sum of 41 followers.

I'd have been perfectly happy with this figure had I not noticed that other people, whose opinions I consider far less worthy than my own, have amassed thousands of folk whom they regularly bombard with updates regarding their seemingly mundane existences. Instantly jealous, I noticed that those with the most followers, aside from celebrity types who can attract millions without even uttering a digital breath, were literally sending out Tweets every other minute. I tried to keep up, on one day posting three decreasingly interesting messages inside an hour, but to no avail.

Then I noticed that having focused on Twitter, I'd neglected Facebook, which had seen more proactive friends dominate Wall-space with hilarious musings and links in the time I'd been away. Then there was my personal website, which had seen a flurry of activity at first before sinking beneath the depths of my interest levels.

It quickly transpired that maintaining even a moderate web presence was a full-time job in itself, and one that didn't lend itself to paid employment or a social life. I've concluded that the only way forward is to ignore everything completely and hope it all goes away.

But in the meantime, of course, I'll be keeping my Twitter followers updated. I'm sure all 41 of them will be delighted to hear it.