Twitter Avoidance

I hadn’t realized what a habit it’s become to just pick up my phone and launch up Echofon. I justify it by saying that Twitter is where I get my news. Plus, no one has a personal blog anymore, so Twitter is where I go to find out what people are doing (instead of Facebook).

Truth is, it’s just a habit. A ritual. And like all habits and rituals, it merits some reconsideration sometimes. Why am I really doing this? Should I do it differently, or not at all? 

Day One of no Twitter was a study in checking my automatic habits, and convincing myself that there’s really nothing I’m missing by not checking my feed every hour (or more).

Day Two helped me realize that Twitter really doesn’t need to know about the obviously irritated lady who honked at me twice on the construction-filled expressway. It’s weird, passive-aggressive bullshit for me to put 140 characters out there that start with, “Dear SUV lady…” I also realized that I don’t really need to post a #weightwatchers weigh-in update every single week, since I already write a monthly weigh-in blog post. Everybody doesn’t need to know my exact weight as soon as I sit down after weighing in.

Day Three reinforced the idea that, when something happens, I just *have* to share it with someone, everyone, right now. That was my knee-jerk reaction to dumb people on the highway (again), getting stood up for lunch by a co-worker, and seeing someone’s dirty dishes soaking in the sink at work. Passive-aggressiveness again. It also brings me back to what I already knew: when I keep checking Twitter again and again and again, it’s to simulate actually interacting with someone. Which is funny, because if someone kept texting me as often as I check Twitter during an average day, I’d be fed up with them in a big way, unless they were a really, really close friend.

Day Four continued a downward spiral of Who The Fuck Cares. My realization that I tweet dumb things expanded into the fact that I blog dumb things, and the original point of all this was to actually fucking communicate with people. No one reads this shit except my Mom. Used to be I knew who my audience was: friends from college who wanted to keep in touch. Now, if people want to keep in touch, they do it via Facebook, and I’m getting dangerously close to another Facebook purge. I don’t fucking care. Why do I even bother trying to connect with people anymore? It’s all such passive bullshit. If you want to talk to me, fucking email me. Text me. My ex-step-sister who just moved back into the area and I hadn’t seen for 20 years has texted more than my friends lately.

(For that matter, why do I track all this bullshit like when I arrive at work, what doctor’s appointment I’m at, what I’m doing, what I’m wearing, what I dreamed about last night? I don’t have time to tabulate all this data to learn anything meaningful. Yet another thing I thought was meaningful, but is really kind of dumb.)

Day Five was kind of an acceptance day, after spending a little time on Day Four emailing with my BFF (and realizing that part of my spiraling mood was hormone-related). I like how my blog looks with fewer tweets between the long-form posts (since I’m still letting tweets feed in from Daily Mile, and I posted a Throwback Thursday from my Flickr account). I like the idea that the tweets will be there when I’m ready to read them. After I told a co-worker that I was on a Twitter hiatus this week, I had to explain to him what I do on Twitter (he’s an old-school forum guy himself). With my summary to him, I realized that I have room to prune my following list way, way down, if I’m just following friends, interesting people and brands, and local news.

On the Why The Fuck Do I Blog tip, both my BFF Amy and a blogger I follow helped me realize that I can and should own this shit. It’s what I like to do. Not everyone does, and that’s OK. I can and should post whatever the fuck I want, so long as I don’t put anything out there that’s dangerous or damaging, or breaches someone else’s privacy (e.g. I wouldn’t post about where my husband works, or where my son goes to daycare, or certain friends’ last names, or pretty much anything about my brother-in-law).

As I came to this conclusion, it’s kind of funny, but the internet validated it in multiple places: this music video and this article on LinkedIn.

Days Six and Seven were the weekend. It feels like these would be perfect days for a Twitter check, while Connor is having a snack and watching some TV. I still didn’t launch up Echofon, though, just so I can say I really did stay off of Twitter for the whole week.

So, I spent an entire week with no Twitter, and it wasn’t the end of the world. I feel like I kind of detoxed from the incessant Twitter checks, and got to a better mental place with the whole concept.

I can’t use Twitter as a replacement for actual human interaction. In fact, maybe my next step is to pare down my following list to people and brands I actually interact with, instead of just following people because I know them and they’re following me and I just feel obligated.

I don’t want to lock down my Twitter — I still want it to feed into my blog — but maybe I’ll see if I can eject some follower-bots and people or corporations who are more interested in interacting with my data than with me.

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