Saturday, June 12, 2010

On Twitter detox

Recently a bunch of us took a detox from Twitter. Our detox means no reading and no tweeting. No access to Twitter for 15 days.

I’ve used this break to figure out what Twitter means to me and what I’ve gotten out of it. So here goes. First, why I like Twitter.

1. The People – It’s always the people and the conversations. Kinda like Lost. The whole intricate story and all is all cool. But you’re there to see what happens to Jack, Hurley, Shephard, Locke and that bunch of weirdos. You relate to them. You converse with them. Maybe you’re even a voyeur. You like to know you’re not the only fuck-up around. You get to be your own freak show there. Fake, phony, original, whatever. There’s always some interesting people out there. You want to be around. Hey, I’ve even got all kindsa questions answered out there. From tech, to cycling to food to whateveryouwant. But the best part of it? I landed up meeting some really cool people who I’ve now come to know and like. That has got to be the biggest thing I’ve got out of Twitter so far. And it will keep making me come back to it.

2. The talking –I need to talk. I need to crib, complain, moan, groan. Or be joyous, thrilled, excited and shit like that. And I like it when there are others out there like me. I think that’s the fun part of Twitter for me. You’re there for idle chat, for enlightened debate, for arguments, for banter, for sweet nothings. Or just regular gaandmasti. The same stuff you’d do with your friends that you probably can’t do very often because you’re stuck in a boring job. Or maybe even a boring life. So I need to talk. I need to have a conversation. That’s when things get going. Which reminds me. I don’t get why people take Twitter seriously. I mean dude, it’s only a bunch of people talking. We aren’t changing the world here (but if that happens, wouldn’t that be cool too?).

3. The here and now – Or the ability to have a conversation anytime, anywhere. Like when I’m stuck in a traffic jam or at an airport or waiting for someone somewhere and stuff like that. Twitter is a great time filler. More so with a cell phone now becoming an extended digit on your hand (as someone told me my iPhone had become for me). But this is also a bit dicey because this is the part where Twitter can become an addiction. You get hooked on to it and then you start needing it. You’ve been stuck in a traffic jam before too, right? So what has Twitter done other than spread that misery? And make you addicted to spreading it. Make you addicted to thinking that people actually care. Perhaps they do. But only for that instant. For that then and there, which was a here and now for you.

And this gets to me to the second part. I needed the detox from Twitter to get away from:

1. The excesses – I tweet like mad. I once did some numbers that showed me that I could’ve written a book in the number of tweets I’ve done. That’s a helluva lot of time. On detox, all this time opened up for me. Boy, it felt weird. And it made me painfully aware of what all I can do with that time. Like write. Which is what I’m doing now. Something I’ve not done for a very long time. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Twitter kills blogging. At least it did for me. Twitter gets you into all that stuff about people and talking and whatever I said up there. Me? I love writing. I wish I can die writing. But that oh-so-familiar over-worked lifestyle leaves me with little time to breathe, leave alone write. (Yes, I know that if you have a passion for writing you’ll write at two in the night too. No excuses there.) And whatever time I do get, I fill it with Twitter. Some of it is stray time, some of it isn’t. I’m not sure if tweeting is also writing but I believe Twitter and blogging can co-exist. With some good planning, both can happen, which is probably the best of both worlds. Add that to my to-do list.

2. The expectations – If Twitter is like a regular bunch of people, then as regular bunches of people, we begin to have expectations once know people. Impressions and perceptions are created. If you do something ‘wrong’, you will be hauled up. Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong. But here’s the thing. I think we all have our shortcomings. And I think at some point we start expecting people to behave in a certain way. I think those expectations become a burden. I’m ok with imperfect people. I like imperfect people. They’re like me. I don’t think I can live up to anyone’s expectations and I don’t think I want to. I will be inconsistent. I will be biased. I will screw up. And when I think it’s wrong, I will apologise. But give me that room to goof up and don’t judge me when I do. No really don’t do that.

3. The numbers – I think Twitter fucks things up with numbers and creates phony ‘personalities’ out of mundane people. Imagine Twitter without any numbers. Can you? This whole obsession with number of followers reminds me of the blogging days when it used to be about number of comments on your post. Does it really matter? I don’t think it does. If you’re good, people will read what you have to say. If you’re good, people will talk with you on Twitter. I don’t think there’s any bigger reward.

So our Twitter detox gets over on June 15th and I’m looking forward to being back. I miss the people and the chatter. I still think I’ve gotten more out of Twitter than what it’s taken out of me. And as long as that equation stays that way, I will keep coming back to tweet.


Prolific Dyslexic said...

Very well put. I hope you do find the time and the will to blog more, because you express yourself much better in the long form.
I have missed the twitter junta for the tech and the banter. After some sage advice I've received, I've realised that following the links that people put out is one of the things that makes twitter a major time sink for me. Let's see how it works out in the second innings :)

Anonymous said...

Love the way to write... Its very well put... Amazin...I am also a twitter moron...and I am finally goin to detox after readin this post...

compulsivewriter said...

I can only speak for myself when i say that, before i went on the detox, i didn't realise how much time i was spending on twitter. The detox has made me realise what twitter means to me. it has also made me realise why i need to take a break every now and then.
thank you, for encouraging this time away from twitter. when i tweet again tomorrow, i will be glad to be back, but i will be glad i went away for a while. and as Prolific Dyslexic says, let's see how it goes in the second innings...

Karthik said...

I think this is more a case of abstinence than detox! In detox, one perhaps takes some remedial measures to get over the crap created by the earlier process and since that is missing, it is mere abstinence :-)

Today is the day, I suppose - welcome back. Which TV channel is getting the exclusive sound byte on your coming back?

Rak35h said...

Very well written, Sir :-)

I believe you have penned the feelings of most people on Twitter. I only got on to twitter last year, reluctantly, just to follow an 'adventure' rally that runs annually from London to Mongolia. One tweet led to another and here I am, enjoying every twinute on twitter.

I made a bunch of close acquaintances via twitter who I believe can become good friends in due course. In my case, I reconnected me with my 'des' India. The mundane 'traffucked' tweets, the rains, the moans and groans of Indian life - they are of much value to me.

Will I be able to, now, go on dettox? Doubt it, not completely. Recent changes have forced me to tweet less. Perhaps the decrease in quality may (as an off chance!)reflect an increase in quality. But then, who the 'f&$k' cares anyway. It's twitter.

I agree with Prolific, you write well when you write more than 140. But then, I have to say, you express well when you write less than 140!

Hope to see you back in the building!

~ aar4 (previously known as Rak35h!)

Ann Dee said...

That felt like my own blog [a different story that you're a cooler writer].

I have been lamenting Twitter killing the Blogger in me ever since...but that too happens on Twitter. Which means everytime the frustration begins to well I give it an immediate vent.

To add to all that you wrote, which I second word by word, I feel Twitter is ripping me of deeper thinking, self-retrospection, even concentration.

Twitter detox shall it be & very soon! Amen!

d i l i p said...

Reached this article from Compulsive Writer's blog. You have written it so well. And point #2 - The expectations - is what I really want a few of my *friends* to read and understand. I could have never put it across to them so clearly. So a big thanks to You! :)

Shane said...

Loved the post.Definitely related to your reasons for the detox, any chance of a follow up on how it was to be back? I know you've mentioned what you missed n all but anything else? Also keen to know whether you'd do it again?

An Iengar Chick .... said...

LOL BA, like I say Twitter is for Twits that tweet (sweetly) rofl. Great reading you once again. Me not a tweeting twit so I do miss (reading) you. Moi is mucho glad to have you back.


rohit said...

very well witten review. i also liked the movie very much

maitreyi said...

hey very well written----pls write more ---n continue!

maitreyi said...

very well written!---pls continue to write!

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