“he who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions.” - Emerson
This quote is taken from an excellent article on leadership and solitude by William Deresiewicz. The article was particularly interesting to me as it referenced my favourite book Heart Of Darkness extensively. I agreed with much in the article but the reason I wanted to write about it here is the way Deresiewicz criticises social tools as being mere distractions from real relationships.
I agree that we need to hear Emerson's warning about drowning in other people's opinions but I get really frustrated by an increasingly common victim mentality to tools. In fact I just gave up on reading Is This All There Is by Julia Neuberger because of her knee jerk “young folks nowadays” attitude to the web and modern culture. It is almost fashionable to make yourself appear more serious and worthy of attention by claiming to be above the noise on the web.
These folks need to get over themselves. Twitter and Facebook are just tools. If we allow them to be shallow distractions they can be. If we want them to enrich our lives and help us understand the human condition better they can do that too - it is up to us!