Since I wrote this post, my views have softened quite a bit and I’m actively using and participating on Twitter again. I’m leaving this up because revising history doesn’t change what I actually felt at the time. I ended up having a month long break from Twitter and found the “off switch” on the constant reload cycle I was trapped in.
One of the topics that Saul and I discussed on NSBrief was my posts on Twitter, and how they tended to be a bit cranky. As I mentioned in the podcast, I have used Twitter in the past to vent about the ‘unimportant’ aspects of my day-to-day life that get to me — so much so that one of my peers has anonymously created the TonyArnoldsRage account (Be sure to visit the account just to marvel at the high art of my face pasted onto the Hulk’s body!).
I realised shortly after the NSBrief episode that while the stream of information going across my timeline in Twitter was at times informative, it was tending more and more toward negativity. And I wasn’t getting much back from it in return — in fact, I’ve pretty much stopped communicating effectively across all of my online channels.
None of my ideas or thoughts were being presented in a way that helped others understand them, and I was finding that I wasn’t bothering to use any of my critical thinking skills. My communication had essentially turned into a steady stream of knee jerk reactions to the refresh-read-refresh-read cycle.
I’m a lucky guy – gosh I could rattle off the amazing things in my life that I’m thankful for. I’m not spiritual, and I believe that everything I have in my life is a direct result of my actions. So if something is wrong, it’s up to me to make a change for the better. I struggled with why I had become so negative on Twitter: I actually got pretty despondent about it, and last week decided that the best thing I could do was to stop being quite so active on Twitter.
A week in, it’s been a good chance to reevaluate how I communicate online. A big red reset switch on the content reloading, and on my enthusiasm for communication. I look forward to writing on my blog and actually taking the time to explain my thoughts on topics that I previously would have muddily explained in 140 character quips on Twitter. I’m getting more work done.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter’s activity stream is nothing more than a constant distraction to what’s important. It’s a channel of communication that’s ineffective, hard to follow and littered with advertising and nastiness. It has moments of usefulness and supportiveness, but it’s not the cohesive community that it used to be.
I’m a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to this party, as Brent Simmons came to a similar conclusion months ago, and came out the other side with a reasonable balance of still wanting to interact on Twitter, but recognising it’s lack of value. I agree with Brent: the magic has gone out of Twitter, and I don’t think it’s coming back.
Some of you will see this situation as an issue of self control, and you’re not entirely wrong. I see it as an opportunity to get my online persona back in sync with who I am in real life and contribute in a way that makes me happy and fulfilled.