Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Twaddict?

I left Twitter a week ago. Since then, I haven’t checked it, googled it, or logged into my ‘business’ account.

I feel bereft.

For so long, there were a thousand voices for company, and now, just my own thoughts once more.

Voices which agreed with or vilified my statements, endorsed or rejected them, reacted to my thoughts and observations in a hundred different ways. And now. Silence.

When I started to use Twitter in 2009, I wholeheartedly agreed with the friend who sent me my first direct message, @smallgod1, ‘You do realise that Twitter isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on?’

When I moved to Australia and went to my first @SHTBOX, a Friday night ‘Tweet up’ organised by @ScottRhodie , @MitchMalone and @Maldamkar, I was asked by Mal ‘What’s your Twitter name?’ and I almost recoiled in horror.

‘My ‘Twitter name’? Can we start with my *real* name?’ I asked this lovely guy, barely managing to mask my revulsion at his question.

Two years later, and I found myself at social media events, asking just that. Don’t get me wrong, I am still referred to as a ‘Luddite’ by certain people because I have a penchant for old fashioned pen and paper. Call me romantic, but letters and handwriting have a special place in my heart. I suppose they appeal to my 'teacher' sensibilities. I realise now, though, how much sense that question makes, in the environment of a SM social event.

Through Twitter’s (almost) constant stream of chatter, I have gained inspiration and encouragement for my writing and my running, widened my knowledge of social media, geography, travel, music, politics and technology.

I’ve followed the ups and downs of complete strangers, and fallen for the personalities and sense of humour of others. Twitter has occasionally made me reflect on my ‘chat room’ teenage days ( /me remembers) , but, more importantly, has encouraged me, time and time again, to think hard about the future – my own as well as the wider picture.

Twitter users have picked me up when I’m down, given me advice, taken mine with good grace, and made me laugh. I’ve been moved to tears, smiled at people’s kind exchanges, angered them with my opinions, flirted, and scoffed and blocked at the use of text speak. I’ve felt guilty at misunderstandings, kicked myself for drunken tweets and done my best to lift my game when I’ve realised I’m being repetitive or morose. Sometimes I’ve been infuriated, saddened and disappointed at the behaviour or comments of others.

I approached Twitter with the same values and honesty as I approach real life and I think that approach leaves the door wide open to equal amounts of reward and hurt.

Twitter has the potential to be a microcosm of the world but more likely, it is attractive to us because it is our chosen world, one we create. We can tailor it to our personal likes and needs by blocking, following, favouriting and sharing things which interest us. I know no Twitter users who follow celebrities or social media influencers for example, who’s opinions and tweets make them want to head their desk every time one appears in their timeline. Why would you?

One thing which became clear to me shortly before I stopped using Twitter was the blurring of boundaries between the lives of people I follow on Twitter and the lives of me, my husband and our friends. I would often speak to my husband about strangers I communicated with regularly with on Twitter as if they were our mutual friends, and then I would be frustrated when I realised he had no idea to whom I was referring. He’s a frequent Twitter user and understands the benefits of it more than most, but unlike me, does not use social media to form personal relationships – and therein lies the difference.

Non Twitter using friends did their best to understand when I told them stories about my ‘Twitter friends,’ but some of them clearly thought I’d lost it. They’ve said things like, ‘But it’s not real life, it’s just Twitter’.

To those people I would still say 'No'. It *is*. It is *absolutely* real life, often laid bare, in 140 characters. It’s snapshots of users, of experiences, of personalities. It’s what makes us tick, makes us laugh, makes us cry.

(This is of course assuming that the people I follow are being as honest and open about themselves as I am. The possibility of ‘fake’ profiles or accounts is always a consideration and always will be. Maybe this is what my non-user friends meant. I should ask them).

‘Non-user’. Makes it sound like a drug.

I left Twitter a week ago. Since then, I haven’t checked it, googled it, or logged into my ‘business’ account.

I feel bereft.

I idly reach for my phone, the Twitter application has been deleted. Still, thoughts continue to form in my head as tweets. Still, I wonder how my 'Twitter friends' are doing. I miss them.

I’ve been relying on Facebook, updating and posting more than usual.

Facebook is my methadone.

It will get easier, it has to. For now, though, one step at a time.

http://youtu.be/wd4WZ3LqCKw

2 comments:

  1. If Twitter's become negative, of course avoid it... i am not sure why you're withdrawing from something you've found so rewarding, especially since you're staying with Facebook, the real Antichrist of social networks? :)

    Will miss you too. But you do what you have to, for you - enjoy :)

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  2. I use FB to keep in touch with friends all over the world, it's a useful tool for me. I've very little personal info and few pics on there.

    This post doesn't cover the reasons I decided to close my account, largely because they are personal.

    Thanks for your comment, S, and for the sage wisdom / silly banter on Twitter. You know where I am!

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