An older friend of mine, let’s call her Gurnadette, posted this on Facebook the other day:

“Gurnadette is on her way to the hospital with her daughter Hannah, who is in Labor.”

Despite the odd capitalization and lack of an extra “u” at the end of this update, I have to assume Hannah is in the process of giving birth to a child and is not a member of the left-of-center political party in the United Kingdom. I also, then, have to assume that Gurnadette found time to update her Facebook status while accompanying her daughter to the emergency room.

That kind of multitasking probably deserves some comment about the misplaced priorities now consuming our everyday lives or the profound reach of the Internet, social networking sites and mobile devices, but that all seems somewhat insignificant when you accept that people in these digital days are really, really crazy. Really. Crazy.

Now, I am not particularly old, and I don’t consider myself “crusty” per se, so I don’t want this to read like a crusty, old man harangue about the ills of those damn young swine who are ruining this world and playing that awful hippity-hop and wearing their trousers below the crack-line.

But I’d venture that obsessively updating one’s status smacks of two gross delusions. One, that friends of yours – the increasingly small number encountered in real life and the growing number rendezvoused online –legitimately care about what you are doing at all times of day or night; two, that a terse, grammatically-unsound description and announcement of an activity is somehow more pressing than the actual performance and experience of that activity.

Again, without exacerbating my crustitude, it must be said that this generation (speaking of a generation drawn in lines of capability, not age –techno-idiots young and old are both culpable) takes to the paths of life with eyes to retrospective, authorially-dull end results. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and a million other remora-like applications, we write and share our lives instantly without a thought to what any of it means. We live lives of 140 characters, stressed by speed and unremitting in their disdain for contemplation or greater cohesiveness.

The same could be extended, of course, to the 700-odd words of this column and so many of the other confines in our days. My criticism is not with the arbitrary limits unique to Twitter or wall posts on Facebook, but with the growing imbalance of action to genuine thought that accompanies this cycle of technophilia begetting simplicity. Leveling the intensity of what is lived with the inevitable coolness of its description, the heat of the moment with the distance of reportage, however slight or masterful, is essential.

What, then, did Gurnadette miss in those seconds as she birthed her paltry message of a profound event into the digital ether? Perhaps nothing – a nurse pushing an old man down the hallway of the hospital, the opportunity to read a five-year-old magazine in the waiting room – but maybe everything: the elation on the face of a new mother, the first wave of a godson or daughter, a red light at an intersection while driving to the emergency room?

As a writer, I appreciate the value of documentation, particularly the small joys of the quick moments of daily life that, when all tolled, mean everything. But I do not believe in consistently missing what is happening to describe what just happened. I believe in brevity, but I do not believe in thinking constantly within the constraints of people, places and experiences that must fit the 140-character descriptors of humanity. Above all, I believe much of the worth of writing comes from its contemplative fermentation, as prose molded best with time and care, shared with others as an exhaustive but nimble, refined but fresh expression of anything worth the sweat of its creation.

Twitter, it has been said, is for Twits. I don’t believe that on face, but I do believe we risk the very best and brightest of our generation (again, drawn across boundaries of age and class and race and circumstance) devolving to twit-dom, 140 characters at a time.

What if those characters could be saved, compiled and crafted? What wonders we could create with a million characters, a million experiences and a measured thought or two on what it all meant? How remarkable, that sum of a day/month/year/life lived and loved for the value of its parts, not dissected for the tweets of an idle moment.