I read a feature yesterday in the Evening Standard asking ‘Are You Addicted To Twitter?’ It has been bugging me ever since, because Twitter is a thing that can drag you in, shake you about and never let you go again, if you let it.
I’ve been justifying to myself that in many ways, Twitter is an integral part of my life as a pro-blogger – I talk to readers and other bloggers all the time on Twitter as well as sending links to beauty posts I’ve written. I would have a third less traffic if I didn’t do this.
But, in truth, the lure isn’t the traffic, it’s the fun of it. I pick up some great information, see some amazing blogs via links that I wouldn’t otherwise see, read stuff that irritates, incenses and amuses, and every other emotion in-between. And there, I think is the nub of it. Emotional connection. There are people on Twitter that I call my NOW friends because we are being friendly literally in the here and now with no expectation of commitment – I have no history with them and very probably no future either. Twitter goes quiet on weekends (it livens up again on Sunday evenings) because nobody is at work, so using Twitter for leisure instead of the general melee of work related information and conversation is a different thing – there seems to be dividing line between the people you’d Tweet on a weekday and those you Tweet at the weekend. Some people I Tweet with, I have never met and am never likely to, but I really enjoy conversations with them. If they disappeared, though, chances are that because I’ve got no emotional connection with them, they’d quickly be replaced (and vice-versa, obviously). Some people, I never connect with at all – they un-follow and we have never exchanged on single word. It doesn’t mean that any of these ‘friendships’ aren’t real – they are, but they are transient and only meaningful for the time that we’re in contact. It’s a no-commitment bond if you like.
If I’m even more soul-searching, I think Twitter is lazy socialising for me. I don’t even have to get out of my PJ’s to join a conversation – that can go on for hours! It is far less maintenance that actually having to get dressed and leave the house. What worries me sometimes though is that I see people who are over-invested in the friendships they make on Twitter and think that it can be detrimental to ‘real’ friendships and especially so for those who find real-life socialising awkward or difficult. Down the line, when Twitter is a fad we used to love, how is that going to look for the people who used it as their primary form of social contact?
I do find myself endlessly lured onto Twitter though – I genuinely don’t think I am a Twitter Addict (although certain boroughs are starting to offer counselling help for those who can’t stay away). I CAN stay away, but I’d be an idiot to do so and miss the intensity, the fun, the jokes and the news. Who’d want to miss all that? I find myself saying things like, ‘He/she is a friend on Twitter,’ and sort of hope in many ways that Tweeting proves to be like a love-affair that eventually fizzles out when something or someone else takes its place, or the chemistry just dies so that I can be less quick to rely upon it for entertainment, but I’m not sure why I feel that way, because I am certainly not ashamed to be there.
I don’t think there are any real rights or wrongs in how much you use or don’t Twitter; I am picking up a vibe of ‘oh, I’m always on Twitter’ like it is a bad thing, when generally it isn’t. It’s fine if you are getting something out of it, but the point at which it is not fine is when you get everything out of it.
I’d love to know your thoughts… do you think Twitter is addictive? Do you make less effort outside of your laptop world because of Twitter?