11 Comments

Summary:

I own every major Twitter client for the iPhone, and many for the iPad. Some were free, but most were bought and paid for. They each have their merits and I’ve used them all variously at one time or another, though some more than others. But no more.

Recently, I’ve been feeling buried by my tech life. I’m used to making my living online, and having done that for a few years, I’ve picked up my fair share of digital barnacles on the open seas of the world wide web. “In Recovery” is an ongoing series about that feeling of being burdened and what I’m doing to slough it off. This is the first in the series, and addresses the bastion of brevity, Twitter.

I own every major Twitter client for the iPhone, and many for the iPad. Some were free, but most were bought and paid for. They each have their merits and I’ve used them all variously at one time or another, though some more than others. But no more.

Twitter seemed like a good idea when I joined the social network more than two years ago, and while 140 characters isn’t a lot of space to work with, it’s brief and, in theory, decidedly easy to take in with just a quick look once in a while. Never did I imagine that my pretty, essential stream would become the bloated, polluted river of “information” that greets me today when I boot up an app or navigate to Twitter on the web. I don’t need to know, for instance, what your dermatologist thinks that rash is.

It’s no longer a communicative tool, frankly. I used to praise its value as a search and research venue, and that’s all it’s become, with all the personality of a schizophrenic Google. And don’t get me wrong, despite the negative connotations of schizophrenic as a descriptor, I do appreciate it when I’m trying to find up-to-the-second information. But at all other times, whether it’s looking to make meaningful professional connections or just catching up with friends, I’ve lost any reason to sneak a peek.

At best, Twitter is a terrible, attention-fracturing distraction. At worst, it’s a fruitless conduit for otherwise powerful creative energy that trains you to think and act in brief, dissociated pointless installments. So I’m sorry Twitter, but you’re the first to go as part of my recovery plan. Maybe I’ll see you the next time I absolutely need to know the score of the Blue Jay’s game as it’s happening.

What’s your experience with Twitter? How have you found your experience to change over time using the service? Do you find it helps or hurts your productivity?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Social Media in the Enterprise

  1. Interesting. I do think Twitter can be overly addicting which is why it requires some guidelines or e.gg timers. Much like anything in life. Use it in moderation.

    Thanks to the usage of Twitter this year I have grown my business ten fold. My network has grown. I have been recommended by large names that otherwise wouldn’t have known about me.

    I have a full time consulting gig, a family, my side business and an active life. Setting limits on your online interaction is the key to being successful. It’s not a statement of how much but how are you utilizing 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there.

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  2. I use Tweetdeck – sometimes I turn it on other times I leave it alone. I can’t agonize over missing a tweet esp with 6 Twitter accounts. I do the best I can – I check them a couple of times a day and let it go. It’s such a good feeling to not have guilt over it. We can’t be every thing to everyone – ahhhh it’s a relief to just know I am in control.

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  3. I think Twitter (like any other tool) is only as good as the way you use it. I use it to make connections with other freelancers and people I like. And the only times it has gotten in the way of my productivity is because I let it.

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  4. Hi Darrell,
    I have only been on Twitter for a few weeks but so far I am loving it. I can see the addictive quality to it, however. I am not using it for personal reasons but I am learning how to use it to build a brand and network with other like minded individuals out there. I think from a business marketing standpoint, it can be incredible tool! I am very excited about it. Again. I am new. I am sorry you are a little worn out on it. I will have to check back in with you when I have been using it a little while longer.

    Take care, and the best of luck to you.

    Debra, The Warm Milk Journal
    http://www.TheWarmMilkJournal.com

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  5. I see your point. It can be somewhat daunting and a real suck on time and energy. I find, personally, that once you’ve got a functioning business network it’s easier to keep in touch with people but adding to it and developing new contacts is getting harder as there’s more and more noise on the channel.

    I also find there’s quite a high drop out of tweeps.

    It seems to thrive as a customer service channel and it’s good for initial crisis management but I’m not sure of its continued value as a networking tool.

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  6. I completely agree with you and have done the same as part of my “recovery plan”.

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  7. It seems most twitter “content” is people just retweeting other people thoughts and work. It is like chain emails with just a subject line.

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  8. I used to have it on my phone. One ill timed “op-ed” piece put me in the doghouse in my personal life, which started the long process of keeping my opinions to myself, trying to hide as much personal information/character data as possible, and revising my friends lists. Now my twitter is for following news and entertainment feeds, and I only post links to drive traffic to my profile, to feed my blog… which is kept on the anonymous nonconfrontational level.

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  9. Why in the world would Twitter be your choice for getting the score of the Blue Jays game? Bookmark the MLB scoreboard page!

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  10. I’ve got a case of what I call web-ADD. Twitter is a big part of the problem, as are YouTube, Facebook and others. You read an interesting link, that leads to something else, and you search for something related and pretty soon you forgot what you were doing in the first place.

    As I have received many benefits and business from Twitter, I’m not so eager to toss it out. I think the key is to be able to shut it out for a while and focus. I like the egg timer idea though.

    I have found myself backing out of Twitter more and more, and resisting the urge to jump into conversations. I still make my appearances and show up at the occasional event, but for the sake of my sanity, and productivity, I need to limit my use. :)

    I have found lists to be one good way of keeping focused. Using Tweetdeck and only monitoring mentions, DMs and a work-related list has helped avoid distractions, and if I do follow a link or two, at least they’re constructive. In fact, today I didn’t even look at any Lindsay Lohan stories. :)

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