Monday, 13 April 2009
Microblogging: might as well face it, you’re addicted to Twitter
If we do something which we enjoy, it's entirely rational and indeed human to seek to repeat the experience to achieve the same gratification again; especially if one feels able to afford the money and time required and it apparently does no-one any harm. To some extent we are all susceptible; but when and why does an acceptable habit/ hobby become an addiction?
Of course it’s a matter of degree and it comes down to this: some people just have addictive personalities. If you have a basic susceptibility, you can choose from alcohol, narcotics, the slots in Vegas, Grand Theft Auto, porn, rewatching Season Four of Friends (“soooo much sharper on Blu-Ray”) repurchasing (again) the entire Beatles back catalogue (“sooooo much clearer with the new digital remastering”) or buying the new Manchester United 'Away Kit' for the boy (“he’d be bullied at school if he didn’t have it”).
Twitter is certainly the new social media phenomenon: its traffic has grown 900 per cent in just one year, politicians, celebrities, athletes and business leaders have made headlines with their tweets.
Twitter received four million unique visitors for the month of February, up from 123,000 from the same month last year. It's made a massive jump from 14th most popular social-networking site on the Internet to No. 3, behind Facebook and MySpace (for now).
And so it was inevitable that as Twitter took off, it would touch certain people who are natural addicts and yes you guessed it, they are now ‘Twitter addicts’. To use the slightly ‘naff’ jargon of the Twitterati (oops! there I go myself) they are Twitterholics. And yes, also inevitably there are online forums and websites to help such people.
The more light-hearted online mentions of this subject include 5 tell-tail signs:
• You name your first child @babygirl1 (and, naturally, you tweet during the birth)
• Your Mom joins Twitter in order to contact you
• You complain when your kids don’t ‘retweet’ you
• You never say or write anything using more than 140 characters
• You start to ‘unfollow’ people in real life (believe me, they don’t like it!)
On a more serious note, Tweeters can find themselves neglecting their responsibilities and suffering accordingly (family , friends, schoolwork , job) which is a good time to admit that you are spending too much time on Twitter and resolve to limit one's ‘tweet time’.
Many people I know are on LinkedIn for business and Facebook (or MySpace) for social interaction; most successfully separate the two and project suitably different personas in each; after all, we all dress for work (even if it’s polo shirts and chinos rather than white shirts and dark suits depending on where we work and whether our job title contains the word ‘digital’). With Twitter it can be difficult to tell where social stops and business starts and having two separate Twitter accounts is a step too far for most mortals.
I suggest each of us should decide why we are using social media including Twitter and set ourselves objectives; i.e. ask "what are we seeking to get out?" This is a necessary first step to evaluating against what we are putting in and so checking that the balance is working for us.
The reality is that sometimes it's necessary for us children to finish our homework before we go out to play. Of course it gets a bit more complex when the homework is actually blurred with play. In reality, few of us can be Madonna’s tour manager, the chief designer at Ferrari, or the lead technical developer on Oblivion 2 /The Elder Scrolls V and even if we are, we still need to compartmentalize and juggle our lives; work/ business/ home/ family/ friends. Twitter and other social media tools can be part of achieving that healthy balance. If we get it right we should be HAPPY.
OK that’s more philosophy that you usually get from this blog. Must get back to doing something useful…
So by all means follow me on Twitter ; just keep it under control, OK?