|  December 20 2011  |   Blog   |   4 COMMENTS
Twitter Quitter

Twitter Quitter

About two years ago, some of you may remember I hopped on the Twitter bandwagon after observing the phenomenon from afar for quite some time (and, I’ll be honest, also doing quite a bit of nay-saying).

Well, I’ve now hopped back off the bandwagon.

It wasn’t intentional or anything. I just sort of…stopped. I went on a short break over Thanksgiving and when I came back, I just wasn’t using it anymore – neither for receiving, nor broadcasting.

It’s a genuinely interesting change to me. I’ve been pondering why I happened to make the change both so suddenly, and also why I seem to be having literally no withdrawal after having stopped. And I do use the word withdrawal intentionally there, because, for a time, I think I really was addicted to Twitter. It was the first thing I check when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing I looked at before bed. I checked TweetDeck constantly, everywhere.

I’ve actually been doing some quick searches to find out why others might have done something similar. And, by and large, I think my reasons align with those of others.

For example, the most publicized Twitter Quitter to date has probably been John Mayer, who decided to stop using Twitter last year, and said this past Summer about his reasoning for doing so that “I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. And I was a tweetaholic. I had four million Twitter followers, and I was always writing on it.”

I have about 200 Twitter followers. So I’m no John Mayer. But I think for quite a while feeling I was feeling a similar effect of not being able to concentrate as well as I might have liked.

And this feeling seems to be the consistent thread through many others’ reasons. I found an older blog post with another person’s reasoning of why they stopped using Twitter, and it was largely the same. I probably can’t put it any better than he did:

“Twitter is a massive waste of time. Let me immediately qualify that — it’s not that ALL of Twitter is a waste of time. It’s that TOO MUCH of Twitter is a massive waste of time. Some aspects are hugely valuable and well worth the time. There’s really interesting “conversation.” There’s connectedness. There’s discovery. But the noise to signal ratio is WAY too high. And the temptation to Tweet for the sake of Tweeting is WAY too high.”

I fully accept that I may not be following the right mix of people for what I want to get. Or maybe I wasn’t engaging correctly. So maybe part of it was me. But I’m not sure that matters, because since I’ve been off of Twitter for about three weeks now, I can honestly say that I am more productive, have not missed out on any news items or important conversations, and I generally feel more connected to the things that I really need and want to be involved in. I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t feel like I’ve created some sort of “value abyss” in my personal or professional lives by becoming a Twitter Quitter.

Ultimately, the idea of Twitter I think can still be hugely useful, and certainly many other millions of people do use it with great effect – including us here at March PR on behalf of our clients. We’ve made great connections and found equally great opportunities  with it. But for me, I think it came down to making a distinction between the things I really needed to pay attention to, and the things that were just distracting, and Twitter had just became more distracting than helpful.

I am interested to hear other peoples’ reactions to my choice. Am I wrong? Do I need to be on Twitter? Do you agree with me?

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  1. As a relatively “light” Twitter user, I understand where you are coming from. I look at Twitter mainly as an information (news, stats, etc.) distributor, rather than a conversational tool. But for some people, it works just as well as the latter. I guess it all depends on your tolerance for the “noise.”

    Doug Flora
    December 20, 2011

  2. I initially started using it for the same reasons, Doug, as a source of news. But I think the value in using twitter as your news source vs. things like newsletters or Google Alerts etc. is that Twitter is in “real time”. That’s great for some situations, but for me it started to be a distraction – the constant stream of updates – to the point that I was not paying regular attention to it and then started going back to it after the fact. At that point it was almost more like email, but it wasn’t really telling me anything that I hadn’t already learned via email or elsewhere! It got a bit redundant and distracting.

    Nate Hubbell
    December 20, 2011

  3. I just don’t see twitter as a source of news. Nothing like seeing the same item retweeted a zillion times obscuring the important stuff.

    Apart from emergencies/natural disasters what did you get from twitter that was so important you couldn’t get it from an RSS feed of your favorite sources 60 minutes later?

    December 20, 2011

  4. I’ll meet you halfway, Jerry. For my own personal uses, I agree with you. Ultimately it was not that important for me to get news in pure real time like you say. However, I’m going to stop short of saying that Twitter isn’t useful for other people that do benefit from getting news immediately: emergency services, reporters. I think there is value in it for them. But again, for me, I’ll agree with you. Having to manage just another source of the same news was just complicating everything.

    Nate Hubbell
    December 21, 2011
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