one week of twittersilence

It’s been just over a week since I decided to make Twitter a read-only medium. I haven’t posted a single tweet, and have only scanned Twitter a handful of times in that week.

And I haven’t missed it one bit.

I’ve been having many more IM chats with the people I care about. I’ve been conversing more via email. I’ve been writing more blog posts. I haven’t dropped offline. I haven’t disconnected. All I’ve done is lengthen the feedback loop – no more constant reloading of Twitter.com to see if there are updates. No more composing tweets while offline. Just a healthy balance, and a reconfiguration of the social connections.

This is going to sound bad, although it’s not meant to. But most of what happens on Twitter – I just don’t care about. People I don’t know. People I simply don’t care about. Not that they’re not good people, or smart, or funny. Just that they are not people I know. And as a result, I simply don’t care to hear constant updates and jabber from and about. There is a strange distortion that I noticed on Twitter, where I was spending a fair amount of time reading updates from people that I don’t know. I’ve never met them. I don’t read their blogs. So why am I bothering to read their tweets? It sounds bad, and goes against the spirit of 2.0 – being connected to everyone all the time – but pulling back to a closer, tighter, more important (to me) group of people just feels right.

Here’s the crux of it for me. Overextension of social connections dilutes and devalues them. Hyperconnectivity negates the connections I care about. If everyone is a “friend” – what does that mean to my real friends? If I spend as much time reading updates from strangers as I do from the people I really care about, that’s not fair to the people I care about, nor to myself.

12 thoughts on “one week of twittersilence”

  1. So, can Twitter be tightened down and dialed down to just the people you care to hear from? Is the transparency of who is following who in the way of using it that way? If it’s the people not the network can this part of the network be better tuned? Those are the questions I’ve been considering during my many weeks of Twittersilence…

  2. Any logic in feeding your own commentary into twitter so the rest of us can monitor? It’s not so much that you have to care about us, just that some of us like the ideas and directions you send us in. I think most of us can do without the idle banter, but as a central point of idea exchange… I’ve actually missed the @dnorman tweets.

    I read your blog for this reason anyway, so perhaps there isn’t a reason, but I do think your twitter content adds something to those of us that have followed. fwiw. :)

  3. I know the “don’t care” comment is a bit harsh, and may sound worse than I intend. I’ve added a mini-twitter “asides” section to my blog for commentary stuff. They show up on the front page of the blog, and on their own page at http://www.darcynorman.net/category/aside/ – there’s even an RSS feed at http://www.darcynorman.net/category/aside/feed

    The asides feature supports comments etc… so could provide much of the same functionality of Twitter, without the noise. I wrote about the Aside stuff awhile back, describing my rationale for wanting to go that direction http://www.darcynorman.net/2008/04/23/tumblog-in-wordpress-my-own-personal-twitter/

  4. What Jym said, and I\’ve noticed your absence as well. The problem with keeping your asides here is the same as with networks like Jaiku – maybe it\’s better, but it\’s not where the rest of us are. The person who introduced me to Twitter told me it was great for keeping up with the little things your friends and colleagues were up to, and I find it pretty valuable for that sort of stuff. Who was that – oh right, YOU! :-) Interesting that 810 folks (or a high percentage of that number) care enough about your tweets to follow you. Seems to me like you need to just learn to cut back a little and follow a smaller group, but if it\’s all or nothing, you know what\’s best for your sanity. Reminds me though, I\’ve got to get back on my AOL chat myself :-) Cya somewhere or other…

  5. With the RSS feed, how is the asides stuff not right where you are? It doesn’t need to be in realtime. I did trim my Twitter following down to 60 or so (and then it crept back up to 70 or so). It’s not necessarily the number of people I follow – it’s hard to describe. There’s a strange chemistry thing that happened, where Twitter suddenly took an overly important role in my online (and eventually offline) life. I’m not saying Twitter doesn’t have value – just that for me, the real value is in spending time and energy on the relationships that matter most to me.

    Another way to look at it – if I add up all of the 140 character updates I read on Twitter, how many Great Books would I have been able to read? Or write?

  6. Hi D\’Arcy!!

    I recently returned to Twitter after a two month sabbatical……..self-imposed by myself because twitter was overlapping WAY too much into my \”REAL\” life and was causing havoc where I did not need havoc to happen. :)

    I agree — most sincerely — with your last comments \”If everyone is a “friend” – what does that mean to my real friends? If I spend as much time reading updates from strangers as I do from the people I really care about, that’s not fair to the people I care about, nor to myself.\”

    It is true, that I have made life long friends on twitter. Some friends who have impacted my life in a way I would never have expected…..and 10 years ago would never have been possible without this tool. But — that isn\’t 100% good…..it just is a fact.

    I had to learn to make TWITTER work for me……instead of twitter controlling me (and thus affecting those around me in my day to day environment.)

    I like to learn from Twitter. I like the helpful hints. But the people who matter to me, the people I care about, the people I let influence me…….twitter is just a stepping stone to true conversations in email, skype, gchat, or even face to face.

    Thanks for letting me share. Jen

  7. 1) We learn about a popular, good, new technology tool. 2) We get all setup and we’re excited so we go nuts and sign up for all kinds of groups and connections 3) At some point down the road, we’ve developed a better feel for how the tool fits into our life and we change the way our account is setup to better accommodate that

    I mean, it’s not rocket science, and Twitter isn’t the end-all-be-all. It’s a tool, and we’re people. I think you might be getting caught up in the semantics of “friends”. It’s sorta like being in elementary school and having to name a “best” friend. Maybe you just don’t have to name and catalog those relationships and you can just…live.

    On message boards where there are occasional arguments, every once in a while there’ll be a “Good bye, cruel world!” post from someone who vows to leave the message board and never return. I never knew exactly what response those users wanted or expected, and now it’s the same thing with bloggers having epiphanies and swearing off twitter or reading feeds or using email or whatever. I’m just not sure how to respond, but I’m authentically glad that you’re tweaking your twitter usage to make your life more enjoyable. A+ on that. : )

  8. Dave, I’m not looking for a reaction – just documenting what my own reaction is. I’m not new to the cycle either – cut my teeth on BBS, FidoNet, Gopher, Usenet, etc… But Twitter is a much different beast, for some reason.

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