Twitter Isn’t a Holiday Destination

Twitter has become my default destination, my starting point, my notebook of thoughts and my conversation centre.

I find it harder and harder to write blog posts, because it’s so much more convenient and immediate to kick things off on Twitter.

Twitter has become the ultimate procrastination tool. Why finish anything, when in 140 characters, you’ve devolved responsibility to the global, social thought stream?

I’m supposedly on holiday, but thanks to Twitter and email, and despite my BlackBerry being turned off, I’m never far away, which means I haven’t switched off. Now two years ago, this would have been a tragedy that I would have railed against. Now, things are markedly different.

My job’s one of the coolest in the world. That wasn’t an accident. Two years go, I was ready to quit Sony. One day, I might not be at Sony, and that might well be the time to tell you why, if anyone’s still interested, but it’s really not that interesting.

I decided to put everything I had into the job. Everything. I’ve been a voracious reader and learner for years. I started reading again. Looking back, I acted on the advice of a man who I had yet to read, whose words I had yet to hear. Jim Connolly. I didn’t know Jim back then, but he said it best and when I heard his words, telling me that the quickest route to success was to put everything you have into what you’re currently doing, the hairs on the back of my neck rose in recognition. That’s exactly what I’d been doing for the last two years, and exactly why I’d managed to make so much progress. Massive action; the willingness to go the extra mile and beyond; a focus on serving others; massively positive, can-do attitude; the confidence to aim beyond what others are satisfied with and laser focus on results; all of these things work.

I started wearing suits again. I started playing table tennis, and I got pretty good at it. I lost a lot of weight – about 20 kilos. I got my diabetes under excellent control. I reduced the number of hypoglycaemic attacks I used to suffer.

Then things got really interesting. I got the opportunity I had been looking for, a move to a new department and a new challenge. I seized it with both hands and gave it everything and when I thought I’d given everything, I gave more. I defied convention and delivered with a team that shared my passion and commitment. They deserve the real credit. Thank you Lorenzo, Spencer, Tony, Robin, Nainan, Setsuo. And thanks Jim for believing in me.

And more recently, things have gone spectacularly well. Again, this didn’t happen by accident, but I feel no less blessed for the recognition and love.

Twitter has been there all along. I use my personal account. I speak in a relatively unfiltered way. That works. Obviously I’m not stupid about it.

Although at first, I spoke little of work except obliquely, I had a lot of experience on Twitter and started using it more for work. This was unorthodox, but I was delivering at work and I kept at it, refining my approach, refusing to take away the rough edges that make me human, but nevertheless, polishing those aspects that needed attention. I’m still working at it. The point is that Twitter has become an important part of my “job”, seeing as my life and my job have blurred boundaries.

That’s made it hard to switch off after an extraordinary Gamescom. (I’m about 52 minutes in by the way.)

What does switching off even mean in today’s world? More and more people talk about disconnecting digitally. Switching off email and social media and just going on a digital fast; digidetox if you will. I’m not sure if that’s the problem. I think the problem is living unconsciously.

We accumulate a lot of default behaviours over the course of our lives. Many of these are genuinely useful, but their execution not always optimal. An example of this is typing and mouse use. If we don’t use our bodies optimally, we set ourselves up for injury, even if we feel like we’re typing fast and mousing around like Jerry. Do it long enough, badly enough, unconsciously and you will get RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome and all manner of other problems.

If we sit at our desks with poor posture, we might not feel anything at the time, but one day, years from now, we’ll want to know how to get rid of the back pain that has “suddenly” crept up on us. So off we go to people who charge a lot of money to try to find a fix for a side effect of modern life. For what it’s worth, I got myself a good Alexander Technique teacher twelve years ago for about a year. From time to time, I still need to “give the orders”.

Using Twitter is also a habit, and not always a good one, though I think at the moment, the upside of Twitter vastly outweighs the downside, providing one uses it consciously. Given that my style is unfiltered and flowing, it’s not clear that being totally conscious would help, but it’s not the content over which I need to be totally conscious, it’s the moment before the tweet that is important.

Alexander Technique as taught by a good teacher shows you how to become much more sensitive to the feedback your body is constantly giving you, to use your body consciously. Once you have used your body consciously, the right way, for long enough, then good alignment becomes a habit again. I don’t have an Alexander teacher for Twitter, but I do have the next best thing – a holiday.

Driving is the same. We all think we’re fantastic drivers. I’m going to level with you. I’m not a fantastic driver. I know my technique leaves a lot to be desired and much of it is down to the erosion of good form, and the establishment of poor habits, but who is going to re-learn driving? It’s not cheap! I do think we should probably all go on refresher courses, but I haven’t a clue how we’d go about paying for it.

Habits are vital. They allow us to function without cognitive overload. If we had to consciously evaluate every decision in our extraordinarily complex lives, our decision-making reserves would be exhausted in no time and we probably wouldn’t even make it out the front door in the morning. What’s important is to occasionally have a conscious re-evaluation.

Holidays are really, really good for that.

Tomorrow, after the Friday prayer, I’ll be going to some wild, open space, near water, with a Dunhill Thames Oak pipe, filled to the brim with some mild tobacco. And I’ll be looking at those aspects of my life that I’ve been unconsciously suboptimal at and trying to be a bit more conscious.