I decided rather spontaneously to take a bit of a Twitter break to recharge after finishing Veda this year. Because the break was something I decided to do five seconds before I did it, I hadn’t really thought about what, if anything, I’d learn from the whole experience but turns out there was a lot to learn. So in no particular order, here’s what I learned from my brief break from Twitter:
Twitter has become my main resource for news: I felt out of touch with what was going on in the world when I wasn’t browsing through Twitter. People would ask me ‘Have you heard about this?’ and I’d have no idea what they were talking about. Usually, I know about breaking news as it happens, thanks to Twitter. Resorting to traditional news sources made me feel like I was missing the whole picture and arriving late to the party.
I stay in touch with my friends and family via Twitter: Not only was I feeling out of touch with what was going on in the world, I was feeling out of touch with my friends. I use it as my primary source for communication with a lot of people, online and offline. I made much more use of Google Chat, tweeting and even phone calls and Skype, which wasn’t at all a bad thing.
Tweeting has become a habit: The first little while after I ditched Twitter, I would catch myself going to open the app. Something would happen and I realised I’d written my tweet in my head even before I’d remembered that I was on a break. Oops.
Twitter’s sometimes my sounding board: If I’m shopping for something, looking for a new book to read, a movie to watch or a product to try out, I often poll Twitter. I trust the opinions and suggestions of people I’ve connected with on Twitter more than reviews on company websites and even those third party review sites, because I know how easy it is to exaggerate and skew those reviews.
It’s become a creative expression copout: I found the more active I am on Twitter, the less likely I am to blog. It’s quicker to tweet. And I’ve let it take place of planning and writing actual posts and it’s much easier to interact with people and have back and forth dialogue. Oops again?
It can be a timesuck: I was a little surprised to find out how much time I actually spend browsing through Twitter. And yes, I usually am multi-tasking when I’m browsing through it. I check Twitter if I’m waiting to meet up with someone, for my kettle to boil, or in the morning before I drag myself out of bed. But it can be a timesuck if I’m not careful. It’s also an easy go-to if I’m procrastinating. Oh, how I missed the procrastination potential…
I can live without it: I quit Twitter and lived to tell the tale. That’s probably one of the more surprising things I learned from the experience. It’s funny how we can feel anxious just thinking about separating ourselves from our social networks. I wasn’t sure it could be done. I know I have a hard time being more than a foot away from my mobile. But it’s okay to unplug every so often. It might even be good for us.
What about you? Have you taken a break from, or permanently ditched a social network? What did you learn from that experience?