Matthew Gifford

Photo by Willie Angus

Twitter is a drug

I’m addicted to the new: new designs, new software versions, new developer tools and techniques, new music, new gadgets, new shoes, news.

I’m also a serial early adopter. I joined Twttr, now known as Twitter, immediately after reading about it on TechCrunch. My user ID is 3426. I was tweeting before it was cool, man.

Initially, it was a convenient way to send messages to the handful of people I knew who also had Twitter accounts. As it grew, I started to follow other designers and developers I admired. Then, non-tech friends started joining. I followed them. Favorite musicians, politicians, and athletes joined. Followed. Google Reader went offline and I decided to replace my RSS feeds with Twitter lists.

What began as a simple messaging service became a unceasing deluge of information. Its name is TweetDeck.

TweetDeck rules everything around me

It was too much to handle. But I couldn’t get enough.

Whenever life got too boring or stressful or the thing I was working on was uninteresting or intimidating, it was so easy to turn to Twitter to take my mind off things. It was always full of new, interesting, easy-to-consume information. And once I was there, it was hard to counteract that inertia. A quick hit could turn into hours of distraction.

There was also the anxiety that came from knowing that people were posting about the fun things they’ve done, the cool stuff they’ve made, and the great thoughts they’ve had. And if I didn’t check Twitter every few minutes, I might miss something amazing.

This is not the kind of behavior that leads to being a productive member of a family, company, or community. Accordingly, I’m not doing it anymore.

However, as much as I’d like to say that I’m quitting Twitter altogether, I can’t. It has become indispensable to my professional life. It has opened up opportunities and fostered relationships that I doubt I would have gotten otherwise.

So, my resolution is a little less than absolute: No more visiting Twitter without a clear goal.

But, certainly, no more TweetDeck.

January 27, 2015

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