by Christopher J. Spurlock
Going Cold Turkey or The Story of a Post-Twitter Existence
When I thought about all the things I could give up for Lent…well, nothing much came to mind (perhaps because I didn’t really think about it too hard). Maybe that makes me a bad Catholic, or maybe I’m just lazy. Regardless, I chose not to give up anything. However, I did decided to make a smaller sacrifice: I decided to give up Twitter. For a week.
Since I first joined Twitter on Feb. 26, 2009, I’ve sent over 2,000 tweets and read thousands (maybe millions) more. It is a huge part of my social existence, and plays a key role in my journalism life as well.
But, I wanted to take a break to reevaluate the way I use Twitter. So, I decided to take a week off to test myself and learn more about my Twitter habits.
It’s only been four days so far, and honestly it’s been incredibly difficult. Monday, the first day, was especially tough. I felt myself wanting to clink the little Twitter icon at the top of my bookmark bar out of habit alone. I needed to be connected, to be ‘plugged in’ to my social sphere. And when important news broke, my first impulse was also to go right to Twitter. But I couldn’t. I didn’t want to give in.
So far I’ve learned a few important things from this experiment:
1. I don’t need to tweet everything I think. During these four days, there have been things I’ve wanted to tweet, and probably would have had I been able to access Twitter in the immediate way I typically can (I’m rarely without my laptop or iPhone). Instead, I was forced to ask myself, “Is that really important? Will that really contribute anything? Is it necessary, relevant, etc?” About half of the time, the answer was no.
2. I’m more productive and more engaged without Twitter. My girlfriend is always
nagging me lovingly teasing me about being on Twitter all the time, and she has a point. Since I have an iPhone, I’m able to quickly access and update Twitter at any time, and I do. I also constantly have Twitter open on my laptop, which is a huge distraction. Since I’ve been on this cleanse, I’ve been more engaged in real life conversations, and I’ve gotten a lot more done.
3. I do actually need Twitter. Like I mentioned earlier, my first instinct when news breaks is to turn to Twitter. I get so many real-time updates from so many sources, it would be silly for a journalist not to use it, both for sharing and consuming news. Thus, I can’t give it up.
I’m not suggesting that everyone take a week from Twitter to learn, but I would recommend taking a step back to evaluate how you use it. It could really do you some good.