Twintervention: Kicking the Twitter Addiction – Zero Hour

Twintervention: Kicking the Twitter Addiction – Zero Hour

I have officially quit Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a lot of fun. Too much fun in many cases. But, I’m now addicted to Twitter. It is taking over more and more of my time, effort, and energy. In addition, I’m just becoming way more emotionally attached to my Twitter friends than I have any right being.

“So what?” you ask. “Just because you like it a lot doesn’t mean you’re addicted to Twitter.”

Au contraire, mon ami. As a relatively addictive personality, I’m very aware exactly how addicted I am. No one should be waking up early, just so they can blow off work and tweet for 2-4 hours. No one. Maybe it’s not a warning sign to you, but when I’ve been too busy making stupid jokes for half a day that I haven’t taken my daughter outside to play in the sunshine, I know there is a serious problem.

In short, Twitter is my own personalized crack. It has been specifically designed to feed all my vices. Constant attention. Instant gratification. A community atmosphere. Affirmation, competition, innovation. In addition to just the amazingly wonderful (and often attractive) people that are willing to tell you basically anything you want to hear.

It’s my kryptonite.

“But that’s crazy,” you say. “It’s just social media, like Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever. How could anyone be addicted to Twitter?”

Except it’s totally different.

With Facebook, you see your friends’ baby pictures. Your grandma tells you what she had for breakfast. Sick friends ask you to pray for them. It’s nice and real. It’s an extension of your everyday, mundane life.

Twitter is like life on steroids. Everyone is beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, and available (even if they’re not). It gives you a chance to create an alter-ego – usually one that you would never bring out in public or mention to your spouse. It is for people who have never met to find each other across the vast electronic void. Also, you find people that are just like you, using #hashtags. So, you end up with a fantastically amazing group of people who think and talk just like you, sometimes who live in the same city. There are 2.62 billion people using social media accounts worldwide, many of those on Twitter. It’s no surprise there’s so many people to meet.

If you haven’t guessed by now, these are all dangerous things, especially for me. As a person who is ACTUALLY an extrovert, who thrives on human interaction with new people, Twitter is immensely attractive. To meet thousands of new people and hear their stories?! Sign me up immediately. Also, some of them will think I’m hot?! Bonus points for making me feel good about myself during my mid-life I-look-like-a-troll-and-am-going-to-die-soon phase.

“Okay,” you say. “I get it. Just stop doing it so much. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. No more Twitter addiction.”

What a great idea, friend! Why didn’t I think of that before. (Note the sarcasm, here)

I’ve tried to kick my Twitter addiction by:

  • Limiting my hours
  • Blocking Twitter on my computer
  • Deleting it from my phone, iPad, Kindle Fire, mini iPad, laptops, and computer
  • Scheduling tweets
  • Setting Twitter as a reward system for all the stuff I’m blowing off. (like, if I do laundry, I get to tweet)
  • Only getting on Twitter when my phone rings
  • Setting alarms for when I have to get off and when I can get on
  • Going on Twitter fasts for 1-2 weeks at a time.

Sounds desperate, right? That’s cause it is. And still, after a couple of days of feeling like I’m doing okay and engaging with the real world, I’m back online, Tweeting for the 4th straight hour in a row.

Dammit.

So, I realized tonight that I just needed to pull the plug. Screw all the amazing people that are my actual friends across the world. Screw the 6100 followers that I’ve managed to maintain and entertain over the last 6 months. Screw the opportunities that I’ve had to be a part of blog hops, writing groups, and virtual conventions. The fact is, no matter how cool Twitter has been, losing control of my ability to stop is a threat to my job performance, my parenting skills, and my health.

And so, tonight, I deleted my account. Like, for good. Zero hour.

If you’ve read this far, it’s likely that you at least have some inkling of how hard this was for me. Even as I was doing it, I regretted it. “Think of all the people,” I thought. “Think of all the amazing people that I’ll never get to “see” again.” It was like being disowned from my family.

My fingers itched to undo immediately. And then, there was the catch.

I have 30 days before my account is officially deleted forever from Twitter’s database. Until then, all I have to do is sign in once to reactivate my account. Already, the siren song of pants jokes and #SixWords is filling up my head…

That’s when I decided I would do a countdown. 30 days of me divorcing myself from the Twitter world. An “uncoupling,” if you will (mad props to Gwyneth on that one).

Follow if you want. Or don’t follow. Either way, I’ll be sucking the Twitter poison out of my own fingers, drop by drop. I’m hoping that it gives me my mind back – the one that is able to write more than 140-characters at a time. And, if I’m really lucky, I might be able to gain enough self control to go back to Twitterland and act like a normal, crazy tweep like everyone else.

 

 

You Have Time for Just One More:

39 Responses

  1. Rich says:

    Hey. Hope you’re good. I just noticed and I’ll return. Although few did them better, you’re better than your 140 character limits, Willow Becker. I can’t do that pithy wit. I do have a grammar related question though: Is it “Blonde soccer mom’s playing rugby” or “Blonde soccer moms playing rugby”? (They’re starting a knitting group for international students at my local library, and I am writing copy for them.)

    • willow says:

      LOLOLOL!!! I am grinning from ear to ear. I hope your “knitting group” enjoys whatever delights you have in store for them. I appreciate the compliment, as well. I am attempting to function without my amazing Twitter friends, and I feel confident that the coolest will end up finding me (or vice versa). Thank you for coming to my blog. Let me know if I ever write anything witty. 🙂

      As for the grammar question: It’s “Sexy-hot moms who are mud-wrestling.” That’s the correct usage, I believe.

  2. Bobbi Bowman says:

    I’ve been missing you. I think we all need a 12 step program for something…..for you it’s twitter. Congratulations for taking the steps necessary to give yourself balance.
    I did want to share that Twitter has been something a little different for me. I began following artists and writers a few months back. I am no writer. My words would slay any creative ideas. I had stopped creating art. But something happened with #fp. I could puzzle out a couple of lines and each success would turn me towards “real life” instead of away from it. The support I felt from you has helped me dig down and be creative again. I no longer just reply, but I participate.
    Thank you. I will miss your joy.

    • willow says:

      That is one of the most lovely things anyone has ever said to me. I have loved reading your #FP stories. I definitely hope that you continue to water that amazing little talent ficus you have inside of you. I agree that #FP is inspired – I’ve always thought that. It is a special community of people trying to build each other up, and that is a phenomenal thing to find in the often-harsh online world. Thank you so much for going out of your way to find me on my blog. I’m really hoping that I can come back, but I have to prove to myself that I’m mature enough to do so. A long shot, I know, but I’m still reaching for it. 🙂

  3. Zoe Melville says:

    Hey Willow – I’m glad to hear you’re OK, and I think I know a little bit how you feel. I will miss you very much, and if you come back I will see on Twitter again. Looking forward to reading what you have to say. Take care!

    • willow says:

      Thanks for coming by and being a part of my personal brand of insanity. You are one of about 40 people whose Twitter handles I have memorized and poised to follow as soon as I have the courage to return.

  4. I second (and third and… well you get the idea) all of the previous comments, and I also empathize. Twitter is an amazingly addictive place… a perfect forum for extroverts and introverts alike. But, not everyone is created equal, nor are most people honest within that venue. I hope you can find balance between your real life and your virtual one. In the meantime, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, and enjoy those moments when you are finally able to write more than a few characters at a time!

    *Hugs*

  5. Just discovered you were not taking part in #FridayPhrases. Then found your #SixWord goodbye.
    I’m so glad you haven’t had a car accident or divorce!
    I get it, that Twitter addiction is worse than dependence on coffee, tea or chocolate. On writing days, I set Twitter aside except for break time, and I have to do that to be productive.
    For me, having “friends across the world” is very important. But I agree, your child deserves to have a mother that *pays attention*, and goes on walks, and reads books–and is a working writer and role model.
    I will miss you, a lot! But I will remember you happy, healthy, a responsible mother–and a prolific writer.

    • willow says:

      Thank you so much for that! I’m hoping to have my own little shrine to #FP anyway, since it is the thing I miss about Twitter the most. 🙂

      Hopefully, anyone who has really been a good friend will still be there for me when I decide to come back into Twitter Town. I have a good feeling that they will. And, I also think my lovely daughter will enjoy having her mother back to go on fairy hunts, battle ninjas, and generally make her father uncomfortable.

      Thank your for your kind words!!

  6. Nillu says:

    I’ve only just realised you weren’t on Twitter, Willow. I missed your FPs and came to find you here. It’s funny, you can tell from the comments how real you are to all of us. A true friendship, as much as is possible through the walls and skewed perceptions we set up online.

    Like everyone, I’ll miss you. But I’ll look for you here, and if this is what you need, then cool. Live in the real world, spend time with your family, don’t let your words get sucked away by the need to write outstanding tweets (and yours were).

    Nillu x

    • willow says:

      Oh, Nillu. You know I love everything about you. I miss #FP the most, of course, so I’m trying to find a workaround to still play without being on Twitter. Maybe #FP’s redheaded bastard cousin #FFP (Facebook Friday Phrases)? 😉

      Always feel free to hit me up on the demon-spawn that is Facebook. I’ll be there, frenetically pretending that I don’t hate it. 🙂

  7. Tess Martin Adams says:

    While I’ll miss all your hilariously crazy, mind bending tweets, I can totally understand and relate to what you’ve written. Twitter is time suck extraordinaire masquerading as a the best party you’ve ever attended–all the fun and none of the consequences, especially for an introvert like me. I can be endlessly (and calculatingly) witty and creative, then whenever I’ve had enough ‘socializing’, I can simply unplug with no repercussions. But there actually are repercussions, serious ones, as you’ve pointed out above. Good luck kicking the blue bird. Despite the awesome bunch of writers I’ve met, I fear I also need to scale back. Way to blaze the trail… 🙂

    • willow says:

      You are so sweet. You are actually one of those people that I would’ve like to keep in contact with beyond the Twitter veil. You’re going places, kid! If you ever want to sit down and have virtual hot chocolate with me, I’ve got the milk on the stove for you. *whispers* You know, there is a contact form hidden on this website. The secret code is “Lonely Willow needs a friend.” *winks aggressively* *has face embolism*

  8. Andrew says:

    Seriously??!??!??!!!!! I find an awesome writer on twitter and she leaves! That sucks!

    I get it though family and work are more important. At least I found your blog before you left. I’ll continue reading.

    Best,
    Andrew

  9. Kiera says:

    Yours may be a while, I’m doing something mysterious….

    Also, you’ve inspired me to cut back. Time for me to deal with life instead of avoiding it xx

  10. Kiera says:

    You will be missed. You made Twitter brighter, funnier and more genuine.

    Thank you for your honesty and I’m blown away by your courage. I pray this works for you, and you feel more balanced soon.

    Keep on sminjing, awesome lady x

    • willow says:

      Awww. You are the sweetest. I would like to think myself brave, but it would be nicer to just have a modicum of self-control. :S

      Don’t think I forgot about your care package, either. The eagle is in flight. 🙂

  11. Willow,

    Fare thee well. Keep writing. Stay strong. We’ll always have Twitter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M8m4LyFSkE

    – Wisd

    • willow says:

      What a pretty song! Thank you. The only thing this going away party is missing is cake. I prefer one that looks like a giant headless turtle. Make it so.

  12. Roger Jackson says:

    A completely understandable decision. I definitely WILL miss seeing your random genius pop up in my timeline, but I wish you the very best of luck in all your future endeavours. Thank you for all the great conversations, Evil Twin … 😉 *hugs* x

    • willow says:

      Thanks, R. It’s nice to know that I made you laugh a little. 🙂 I’ll be watching for your book tour. I better get a bunch of free, signed copies. 😉

  13. Understand. I’ve walked away before, and now have to exert tremendous will power to keep it tame. I don’t always succeed as you have probably seen. I will continue looking for your stories. Truly great. I wish you well and will miss your words and your humor.

    Cedrix

    • willow says:

      Awww. I will miss you, too. Thanks for remembering that I still exist. I will always be lurking around, probably just at the edge of your field of view. 🙂

  14. Yeah, this.

    I have a bad addiction to Twitter as well. At the moment I’m on a three-week fast, but I don’t think it will help. When I’m on Twitter, I don’t write. I think I might have a daily store of words, and when I tweet they are leeched out in 140-character bits throughout the day. Then, no words left for my real writing that day. So sorry. No stories for you.

    I’ve been seriously considering deleting my account (again). It really serves little purpose other than wasting time. Have I made connections with interesting people? Sure. But is it worth the return on investment? Not really (no offense, Awesome People). The trouble is I delete my account every year, and then after a while say, “This time will be different,” and start it back up again. And the cycle continues.

    And I’m not an extrovert, so even though I’m addicted, I find it soul-sapping and depressing. How’s that for irony? The only explanation I can find for my addiction is that according to my Wikipedia self-diagnosis, I’m likely a borderline/narcissist. So, yeah, obviously something like Twitter does wonders for my mental health.

    I’m beginning to think that anything that offers the ability to share by unfiltered thoughts and get immediate feedback from strangers isn’t good for me. So, basically, the Internet. Bad. For me.

    • willow says:

      Ryan,

      Wow! What a thoughtful response. I know exactly how you feel. Between copywriting (which is relatively soul-sucking), and Twitter writing (which is awesome, but time-consuming), by the end of the day I have a hard time buckling down to write anything for myself.

      I also hear you about the cyclical nature of the addition. It really does feel like a drug to me. What makes it worse is that if you say something like “Twitter addiction” to anyone, the immediate response is to laugh at you and tell you to get your shit together. At least, that’s been my humble experience.

      Thank you so much for helping me feel like I’m not totally crazy. Or, if I am, that I have borderline narcissistic friends who understand. 🙂

  15. Marc Galez says:

    Congratulations, on wonderful post! Will miss your amazing wit
    words and wisdom.

    • willow says:

      Thank you, Marc. I appreciate all the kindness that I have been shown over this issue. Remember, guys. It’s not you, it’s me. 🙂

  16. Miss you! Hope you find a way to balance online friendships with writing, family, and real life. Balance is something we all work on… There’s nothing wrong with feeling a lot of love for your Twitter friends, but nothing wrong with taking a step back either. 🙂 take care of yourself!!! Enjoy the sunshine with your daughter!!!

    • willow says:

      Thank you, Charlotte. Balance is THE WORST. I’m not good at it, and I never have been. My husband keeps telling me that I need to just use this roadblock as a way to learn how to be more temperate, but I already recognize that I don’t have what it takes to make it work right now. Over the next month, more particulars will probably come out through the posts. For now, I’ll just say that this was an aggressively proactive choice in light of potentially scathing consequences.

  17. Kate says:

    I will miss hearing from you… Really happy we “met”, but do what’s best for you 🙂 I’m wishing you all the best in family life & writing one – enjoy it to the fullest & be happy, cause you deserve the best! so sending you lots of hugs & my best warmest wishes 🙂 Enjoy this step & maybe somewhere one day we’ll meet again 😉 Under rainbow & happiness rain ^_^ xo

    • willow says:

      Oh, Kate. My lovely. I will miss you on the Twitter. But, I’m always around. Hopefully, we can still find a way to write our names in the sky together. 😉

  18. Marj says:

    Just wish you all the very best. Sending big hugs.

    M x

  19. David Buchan says:

    Willow,

    I respect your decision & hope it works out for you. You will be missed.

    David

    • willow says:

      Thank you. Still, no one is irreplaceable. There are millions of amazingly talented, creative, and hilarious people in the universe. I’m just one. But, it is nice to know that I mattered a little while I was around. 🙂

  20. Wade says:

    I hope it’s okay that I’m replying to this (i.e., I assume you would have shut off comments if you didn’t want any).

    I read your article and I just wanted to say I applaud your decision. Family and real life are way to important. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

    FWIW I recently had to make a tough call myself, not in relation to social media, but something that had been consuming my life for years, and I finally had to let it go. It was extremely painful, but I knew it was the right decision, both for me and for my family. It was hard, but although parts of me do miss it I haven’t regretted taking that step. You shouldn’t either.

    If you are able to get yourself to a place where interacting online can become a part of your life again, I’ll be among the first to welcome you back. But if not, I’ll also be the first to say “Good for her.”

    Thanks for the laughs. I wish you and your family all the very best.

    • willow says:

      Thanks, Wade! I really appreciate that. It has been fun, and I am sure that it will be something that I miss. You’re completely awesome! Thanks for the supportive words. 🙂

      !emit yna yb pord ot eerf leeF

      *hug*

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