An unhealthy preoccupation?

In June 1883 an American Journal The Chatequan, published the following question:

“If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?” 

The question is now a kind of  philosophical party game which can be passed around and around. I wonder, though, whether there is a digital equivalent? If I tweet or blog and nobody reads what I wrote, how much does it matter? Does it still have an intrinsic value, or is my material only accorded value extrinsically by the act of being read? On any given day I can monitor my blog stats, my mentions on Twitter and the number of times my material has been passed around and mentioned. To take this a step further I can feed that information into a service such as Klout, which tells me such things as my “amplification probability”, whatever that might be!

There is a danger, though, that we become defined by other people’s responses. We assess the value of our on-line material purely by the number of hits it receives rather than the (immeasurable) impact it creates. Not only that, but when our on-line persona receives little attention, our off-line selves can end up feeling melancholic or under-appreciated. This, surely, is unhealthy?

My attention was drawn today to a site which shows tweets per minute live at some of the world’s greatest cities. There is a hypnotic quality to it, as you watch the little dials rise and fall. However, as said on this blog many times before,  volume of communication must not be confused with quality of communication.

That said, I must return to my preparations for a new sermon series on Ecclesiastes.

“As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words” (Ecclesiastes 5 v.3)