Monday, May 14, 2012

My Twitter Vacation experiment.

I've often thought lately that I should just cut myself off from the stream of social networks I enjoy every day for a couple of days, just to see how that goes. Not to this kind of extreme, but a trial of sorts.

I was at Town Hall Tap with Katie on Thursday night enjoying a rare night out when this came up, and Katie bet me that I couldn't do it.

A few minutes later it was on - 3 days starting at midnight Friday the 11th of May to Midnight on Monday May 14th.

And for good measure, I decided to extend it to Facebook, Google + and the like, and also avoid Google Reader as much as possible.

Day 1 was easy as I was at work and I have many days where I don't look at these things at all while I'm working. It got slightly more difficult when I wanted to see what food trucks were available, but I knew if I just walked out the door of my downtown office building I'd see something I wanted. I'd been wanting to try out Hola Arepa and they're always on that block of Marquette, and sure enough, they were there. Crisis Averted!

It was a little trickier in the down times on my Friday commute and while I was waiting for the food truck (long lines at Hola Arepa!). Normally I'd do a quick peek onto Twitter during these times, but not this time. I kept a podcast playing as I usually do and I did read a few things in Reeder and Instapaper which were not off limits.

The weekend was better - I do tend to zone out on things on my iPad or phone during the day when I'm home with family, sometimes to the detriment of whatever is going on in that room. It was easy to stay distracted with the kids and be present. It was definitely noticed by Katie.

The thing I did realize is how incredibly plugged in I am to this stuff and how it's probably mildly unhealthy. I did feel a little bit of withdraw symptoms throughout the 3 days, not unlike quitting smoking or other addictions I've faced in my life. That was a little wild because I did not expect that at all.

I don't feel like I missed out on anything urgent. Katie said to me at one point "Do you really need to be one of the first thousand people on earth to know about Maurice Sendak dying?". Good point, and probably not. I did miss out on the premiere league crazy championship game, but if I was really more of a fan I probably would've had that on anyway.

I was able to go back through my friends list this morning and catch up on their weekends, and just let the rest go.

If you are one of those people that's never far from a Twitter client, I highly suggest trying this yourself - it was very therapeutic. It made me realize the extent to which it was ingrained in my life and to evaluate ways in which that was probably not good for me.

So I'm back to Twitter this morning with a barrage of Tweets, some from a list I made over the weekend when I couldn't tweet. But there are some general principles I've created: 1) don't use when the kids are awake and present in the room with me. 2) don't use when out with the wife or interrupt other 1:1 time with wife. 3) don't constantly check and feel the need to read every single tweet in the timeline (I don't follow too many accounts). 4) Feel free to let it go for a day or two if life's just too busy.

Should work for now...