Cutting Back on Twitter

A few months ago, I read Umair Haique's post on Medium titled "Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)" and it got me thinking a lot about my own social media usage.

Now, I used to say that I loved Twitter, because it was true. I attribute Twitter to a lot of the successes that I've had in my career, it connected me with a lot of people who have become close friends, and it is a great little time waster when you're standing in line for stuff. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post about it just last year. But as time has gone on, I've noticed some things.

First, Twitter has become significantly less personal for me. I noticed a few people having a conversation about this topic the other day, and they shared the same sentiment. It's become more of a place that I aggregate information from, instead of a place of connection. In fact, that was a lot of my justification for still using Twitter. I used the excuse that I needed to find stories for my podcast, or keep up on trends. But now, tools like Nuzzel pull links straight from my Twitter followers and their followers, so I don't even have to manually sift through links myself.

Second, a few weeks ago, I listened to Myke Hurley from talk on Cortex about how he was going to be taking a break from Twitter himself, and I thought to myself "gee, that sounds like a really great thing to do, maybe I'll give that a shot." So I did. No posts, no fanfare, I just stepped away from Twitter for a week and a half.

And you know what? I really didn't find myself missing it. I deleted Tweetbot from both my iPad and my phone and went about my days. I quickly realized just how much I had been on Twitter before taking a break. When I'm working, I often have Tweetbot just streaming my timeline on my desk, so Twitter was a constant source of info, both good and bad. When I had a few minutes of downtime on the train or in line for lunch or something like that, I was on Twitter. In one of his Focus Course videos, Shawn Blanc quoted a statistic that the average person spends 2 hours on social media per day. That was probably a low estimate for me.

Now, as you've probably realized, I used the past tense when talking about my break. I'm back to using Twitter, but I've pretty drastically changed my usage pattern. First, I'm making a conscious effort to reduce my Twitter usage in general. Second, I've decided that I won't put Tweetbot back on my phone. No phone also means no notifications from Twitter. If I want to know what's going on or if anyone is saying anything, I have to specifically go to my iPad to see it.

Being a little bored when standing in line or what have you is not a bad thing in exchange for being more in control of the stuff that comes in to my brain. It's not some "life changing experience" or anything, but it's definitely bringing a little bit more sanity to my life. And let's be honest, can't we all use a little bit of that?