This article was published on August 17, 2010

Confessions Of A Twitter Addict

Confessions Of A Twitter Addict
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

I wrote a post a few days back covering a few reasons why Twitter can be a rather annoying, time consuming tool. To my surprise, it has been something of a hit. We bloggers have a bad habit of sometimes taking an idea that is playing in our heads and turning it into a blog post. Sometimes people love it, other times you could call it a miss.

My mind was stuck on the question: what would happen to me if tomorrow Twitter turned off forever? The answer was brutal, so I wrote a post to calm myself and the other people around the world like me who have an addiction. No, it’s not drugs, it’s Twitter.

Many of us in the tech world have a general genetic weakness for communication and ego stimulation. Email is a mix of the two, but not nearly as bad as our 140 character friend; if email is cocaine, Twitter is crack. The only problem is that Twitter is free, and legal. You can’t kick a habit that is so wholesome, right?

Marshall Kirkpatrick, who I know just well enough to call a friend, has written a wonderful post called “Twitter Is Paying My Rent,” which used to be true. Now Kirkpatrick has updated the post to point out that he has purchased a house, and that Twitter is a big contributor to its payments. What, you may ask, how the heck does he do that? Twitter is the world’s best source of fast information, and that is the juice that blogging sips. So Twitter helps Marshall be a better blogger, and thus make more money, and so forth.

It’s true, Twitter is such an amazing application that it is almost impossible to ever leave behind.

Signs Of Twitter Addiction

Are you addicted to Twitter? You might be. If you exhibit these tell-tale signs you are probably in throes of sweet, sweet dependence:

  • Compulsively checking for @ messages to yourself on your mobile, even if you just did it a moment ago.
  • Tweeting so often that you can’t parse responses to you, forcing you to read your own tweets back to find out what the heck that person is talking about.
  • Know your TwitterCounter stats forwards and backwards, and check them far too often.
  • Have a profile on every single “Twitter Influence” website, but only frequent the ones that tell you nice things.
  • Have no problem at all in tweeting three times in a row, about three different things.
  • Literally feel annoyed and flustered when a tweet of yours does not garner a response. What the hell is wrong with me/everyone else today?
  • Tweet about your significant other, even if they don’t use Twitter.
  • Use hashtags in normal speech (“it was such a #bromance moment, man.”)
  • Before you put your glasses on, or put in your contacts, or even get out of bed, your smartphone is in your hands and you are reading through whatever @s you picked up in your sleep.
  • You never let anything go on Twitter, ever. If someone wants to go to war, bring it on.

Do any of those sound like you? If so, we suffer from the same painful problem. Is there any hope for us? During long personal struggle, and by that I mean my girlfriend hiding my iPhone sometimes to keep me from using Tweetie (bite me, Twitter for iPhone), I have learned that it is possible to disconnect. Just don’t do it when you want to work.

Ways To Lower Addiction Pain

  • Surround yourself with people who hate or do not use Twitter. I am actually lucky in this one, nearly every one of my friends hates Twitter. Really, they do. Whenever I am out and about, they make it easier to avoid Twitter, mostly because they threaten to dunk my iPhone in gin if I don’t put it away.
  • Move away from gadgets. Take a book, go into your kitchen, and leave everything with a screen in your office. Read until you can’t take it any longer before you run back to computer to check Tweetdeck.
  • This one hurts: go outside.
  • Delete Twitter from everything that is not a work device. Yes, that means the Twitter app that you hid on your significant other’s smartphone.
  • Follow more people, diluiting your Twitter experience thus making the whole enterprise less useful.
  • Get a job that thinks that using Twitter at work is a waste of time.
  • Set a tweet per day quota.
  • Keep said quota.
  • And finally, take the weekend off from Twitter if you can.

The problem is that Twitter is so good, so useful, and so accessible, that to not use it seems to be a waste. Balance, my fellow Twitter addicts, we need more of it. What do you do to keep your addiction in check?

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