My Twitter-Free Challenge

Tonight (Tues.) marks the end of my one week Twitter-free challenge.  It has been a liberating week that has allowed me to reconnect to my real life and discover something new about myself.  It’s safe to say I had a problem with the internet in general and especially Twitter.  It’s not unlike drugs or alcohol in that it offers you highs and at times leaves you flat on your face.  Depending on how you use Twitter and the road it takes you on this may look different to different people.  For me it was about validation and feeling “liked.”  If I tweeted the right thing people would reply and show interest in me.  Conversations would start and I’d get the warm fuzzies of a new friendship without having to leave my living room.  But what you realize about Twitter is that it is saturated with people and those people are using it for all sorts of reasons, mainly to get noticed themselves.  People move on, find new followers and engage in more interesting conversations.  For me, I was always on Twitter (logging in and out almost constantly), but not always getting that validation.  In those down moments I would feel the urge to sign off and stay off, but then someone would mention my blog or tweet about my “lovely smile” and I’d be sucked back in again.

For weeks now I have felt this pull to spend less time online and especially less time on Twitter.  I have met such great people there though and when I would think of taking a break the fear voice would pipe in.  What if my Twitter friends forget me? And of course the logical answer to that is if they do forget me they are not actually friends and if they are friends they will not forget.  But that damn fear voice is not logical, it just panics and clings.  So I decided I would present my predicament to one of the sweet souls over at Owning Pink.  I happened to find her on gmail chat last Tuesday evening.

I asked her if she spent a lot of time on Twitter.  This was a question I already had the answer to.  Yes, she has an account, no, she doesn’t really use it.  I told her that I was beginning to feel like it was draining me.  It was making me feel like the regular girl trying hard to be the popular girl.  I am an introvert at my core and that huge part of me aches at these attempts to be an extrovert.  I joined Twitter for the sake of my blog.  It’s what people do when they have something to publicize.  She asked if it was helping.  I told her I thought it helped but really could only see about 8 hits a day that come from Twitter.  The fact is out of 1400 followers I have on Twitter, maybe 20 of them read my tweets (or at least that’s how it seems).

Then she suggested this challenge…Take a week off of Twitter or for the next week limit the time you spend there.  There it was, one of those wonderful clicks. I thought OF COURSE, I’LL DO IT.  A minute later I left my last tweet for the week (other than the daily post that goes to the FB fan page and Twitter simultaneously).

So what have I done this week?  I read a book.  I meditated more.  I bought a sketch pad and started drawing.  Inspired by Bella’s homemade Valentines, I’ve started making greeting cards.  I put 5 handmade and handwritten cards in the mailbox to friends and loved ones today.  I’ve played Wii with Mark.  I’ve spent time with the girls.  I’ve wallowed in the beauty of my real life.  I’ve breathed in gratitude that these three people are here in my world loving me so completely and wonderfully.  I am full and blessed and happy.

I’ll sign back on to Twitter tonight.  I’ll say hello to the friends I’ve missed.  Maybe I’ll find a few mentions of me, or maybe I won’t.  I have learned that I can earn the same validation by listening to my soul when it demands a change.

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12 thoughts on “My Twitter-Free Challenge

  1. ray February 17, 2010 / 12:15 pm

    As you know, I am also evaluating my routines. Sometimes things of the past don’t serve us anymore but we keep doing it out of habit. Taking a look at our patterns is a good thing.

  2. Caren Schmidt February 17, 2010 / 12:25 pm

    Hi Leslee, I must say that I have had those feelings about Twitter. I originally started out hoping to find like minded people and then found OP. At least I think that is how I found OP, to this day I think it found me. Really! I have been lucky enough to make some friends on Twitter and others are just for informational purposes. I really just wanted to find a platform to help fullfill my dream of empowering women and helping them find their voice. I think after reading your blog, it has re-affirmed why I am there. I don’t have many followers and don’t follow many. Now I know why. I want only valid connections. While this may not have been your intention, you made me see this. I applaud your decision for taking this break.
    I am glad that I am getting to know you this way and through the Journey to Health ( that has been a struggle). I wish you love and blessings.
    Caren

  3. OpinionatedGift February 17, 2010 / 2:51 pm

    you were indeed missed. but I think most of us understood why you did it. Good reasoning too. Congratulations.

    Like a lot of the internet, twitter has the potential for addiction. But in the end, what is it we are really addicted to? Does giving up twitter for a week really address the need for validation?

    I’m not sure. As someone who certainly has similar needs, I’m pretty sure I’d just figure out some other way to get what I think I need.

  4. johncaveosborne February 17, 2010 / 5:54 pm

    wow. you and i have “spoken” about this before. i just had no idea how deeply it ran with you. thanks to your (very well written) post, i finally get it.

    the great thing about twitter, at least for me, is that in a relatively short period of time, it helped me build up a pretty good readership for a relatively new blog. it also helped me build awareness for my book. (the one you haven’t bought yet, but i digress…) though i understand what you mean about trying to “fit in,” etc… i look at twitter as something that I’M gonna leverage. a tool that I’M gonna use. not the other way around. so whenever i fail to generate the reaction i was anticipating w/ a particular tweet, i don’t get down on me. i get down on how i’m using twitter.

    i’ve found that my twitter success seems to depend on two things… the people i follow and the people who follow me. the more defined those groups are, the more narrow they are in focus, the better. as i’ve culled those groups and weeded out folks who don’t fit in, twitter has worked better and better for me.

    taking a week off? i think that’s OUTSTANDING. i’ve been on it less than normal the last coupla weeks and that’s a good thing. virtual is great. but real is better.

    and that’s why i like you so much. you’re REAL. sorry to ramble…

  5. Laura February 17, 2010 / 10:08 pm

    I did the same thing in the fall, for Facebook and for my online mommy boards. It was draining so much from my day that I wondered what I woud accomplish if I didn’t do those things. So I signed off…for a month!

    And I cleaned, spent more time with my kids, read more, and just did more. We did more things before the internet.

    I did eventually return, but my month off the social sites resulted in shutting down all of my games on Facebook (what purpose do they serve anyway) and allowed me to be a bit more discerning about my online time. Though I do slide back into the habits now and again.

    Good for you! You are not alone in this sort of addiction.

  6. lesleehorner February 17, 2010 / 10:30 pm

    Thanks guys for all of your comments.

    Ray-I definitely agree it is time to change things up a bit. A day in and I’m trying to figure out the balance that works best.

    Caren-I also feel that certain people have found me through Twitter in a “meant to be” kind of way, including Lissa Rankin which drew me into the OP community as well. That is an amazing place and an amazing group of people.

    OG-I think I’ve just been clogging up my circuits being online so much. I’m drowning out the inner voice and not paying attention to what it’s guiding me towards. The week off helped me see that and it got the attention (or validation) it needed.

    JCO-Reading your response made me wonder if I was too vulnerable with this post. My intention was definitely to use it as a tool for the blog. It was suggested to me by someone in PR. But I stumbled into some unexpected friendships and got a little hooked.

    Laura-If the week doesn’t work I may have to try that month thing. That might be what I need to get me started on that novel!!!

  7. Joy February 17, 2010 / 11:41 pm

    Bravo, my dear Leslee. Who knows what you’ve inspired? Sending love and kudos. xo

  8. Laurie February 19, 2010 / 6:41 pm

    Thank you so much for the home made card. It meant a lot to me – Hope to see you sometime!
    Laurie

  9. jackmcclane February 20, 2010 / 9:28 am

    Hi Leslee

    I am, it is safe to say, a social networking addict. From Facebook to Twitter to 434u to Foursquare. Most of the time is spent with FB and Twitter though. Lately though I am getting more from Twitter than FB. I use the two mediums totally differently. FB is for friends and family and Twitter is for strangers with no cross over! I often see my Twitter me as a character and not always the real me. Maybe I am the real me on Twitter and a character on FB who all my friends and family expect me to be. I’m still working that one out.

    Anyway, I had a 3 day hiatus from FB which ended today and at the time I wasn’t missing it but it was great today to reconnect. I have found that a lot of my FB friends rely on me for entertaining them. I am never dark in mood on FB or twitter so I am often a source of positiveness for them. I like feeling wanted.

    So I will continue to flutter about.

    I loved your post though and what you said about the validation of being liked is spot on for me. If I don’t get responses I wonder if my posts are relevant and therefore welcome. That’s where I have decided that if people don’t like it they have the option to delete. So I will continue to try and entertain. I hope I entertain you, Leslee!

    Thanks

    Jack

    • lesleehorner February 21, 2010 / 2:06 pm

      Jack-So you have yet to get close enough to anyone on Twitter that you’ve invited them into your Facebook world? I started out that way, keeping the two separate, but then got close enough to a few tweeps that I added them on FB. Facebook is just much more visual. You get a real peek into someone’s life (or at least the real peek at the life they want you to see.) Thanks for your comments on this post! I really appreciate you sharing and reading (of course).

  10. mama2point0 February 24, 2010 / 2:03 pm

    Leslee,
    I absolutely loved this post because I think you put into words what many people on Twitter are thinking in their heads. You are so right that you never quite know how a tweet’s gonna be perceived, if at all. I, like you, first got onto Twitter to promote my blog. In fact, I was very anti-Twitter for a long, long time. My husband kept pushing me to sign up, but I thought it all just seemed silly. But, also like you, I ended up forming some unexpected friendships when I finally buckled, and I slowly became a fan. Now, I sometimes find myself on there a little TOO often, and I have to remind myself that I have people here in the real world who would also like to connect with me. I love your idea from taking a break from it for a while to rediscover all the blessings that exist around you. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Nuckingfutsmama 🙂

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