On Facebook and Twitter, people often debate the relative amounts of time one should spend online and offline. The situation is usually framed as a choice between talking to people online and talking to people face-to-face, with unique, live events considered more important than Internet events.
But what happens if the situation is turned inside-out? What if your choice is between watching a unique, live political event on television, and talking to people about business live on the Internet?This is the dilemma I faced last night, when I wanted to participate in a Twitter chat (where “unplugging” was ironically part of the conversation) at the same time that the Democratic National Convention was being broadcast live on television.
My choices were to actively converse with a small number of real people about a subject that matters to my career, or passively (mostly) joining an extremely large community of people watching the convention, a community that includes friends and family. (I say “passively (mostly)” because I like to tweet about television events.)
Last night I split the difference, participating in the chat, but leaving immediately afterwards (instead of staying and talking) so I wouldn’t miss any of the convention’s last hour of speakers, which included Jim Sinegal, co-founder of Costco, and Bill Clinton. (I knew Clinton would give a good speech, but I was really curious about what Sinegal was going to say! If you missed it, the transcript is here and the video is here.)
My decision was made easier by the fact that I could listen to anything I missed later online. Still, it’s not the same as sharing the moment with everyone else in the country.
I don’t have any important insights or conclusions about the choice between “real life” and “real life.” I just thought I would share a slice of my life, and see if anyone else had a similar experience.
P.S. Turns out I only tweeted twice during the convention:
CEO of @Costco not a great speaker, but gave a good speech! #2012DNC
“Poverty, discrimination and ignorance restricts growth”
~ Bill Clinton #2012DNC