40 Days (and nights) without Twitter.

By definition, I’m an extremist. I can’t eat one cupcake, I have to eat the whole batch. I can’t watch just one episode of $Television_Show, I must watch the entire series. I can’t do things in halves or partials, I must have the whole entire wondrous, beautiful thing. Thus, anytime I need to quit or par down on something, it’s hard for me to get into the mindset that majority of the population already does this on a daily basis and that it’s totally okay to have $X in small amounts or not at all.

Temptation and gluttony be thy middle name. And usually, I’m totally okay with that until it starts running my life — like Twitter.

Let me spin it this way: When TheEx and I broke up for a second time in August ’08, I swore that I was not going to read his blog anymore. This sounds silly, yes, but after nearly two years of being together and the joining of our digital and physical lives, I did not want to know what he was doing or how he was doing in grad school. I went from checking his blog several times a day, during the entirety of our relationship, to not checking his blog at all. NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING IT WAS TO GO THERE! I especially did not want to find out about his love life. I’m egotistical enough to state that once you go Lisa, you never go back and I know myself well enough to know that my little heart could not bear to find out that in “3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years” he’d be dating someone else. Also finding that information would lead me to want to track the newGF down and talk sense in her before he started smacking her around (literally).

But I’m horribly digressing.

The point being is that I had to rationalize my way through of not going to his blog: What was I going to learn? How was this information going to help me? Did I or do I need know what or how he is doing? How is this going to help me in the healing process? I deleted cached information so that there would be no auto-complete when I went to the browser bar, I cleared out the cache so that it would not show up in my history. I did not want any easy way for me to stumble upon his blog, even innocuously. Melodramatic? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

Like reading TheEx’s blog, like smoking (25 days smoke-free! woot!), like most anything that has a shred of addictiveness to it – Twitter has become one of those indispensable things in my life that one wouldn’t think would make such an impression or be declared a necessity but because it has, I have to nip it in the bud before it takes over my life — which it has started to do.

I discovered Twitter in the August of 2007 via somewhere, created my account and tweeted my first tweet about procrastinating on a now-abandoned thesis. I lost interest in the technology — I knew no one really other than a handful of people on Twitter and since at the time the interaction with those people was sporadic, I too was sporadic with my tweeting. My tweeting picked up in December/January of ’08 and from June onwards, I became a tweeting fiend. I’m not sure what changed — perhaps finding out I could tweet from my cellphone via SMS was probably a huge factor, tweeting non-sequitor stuff I was thinking about while grocery shopping or what have you seemed like the bestest thing since sliced bread. Or that my own readership was growing as well as those who were following me.

Discovering that not only people but robots, news services, and whole corporate entities were on or getting on Twitter also helped further along the obsession. But what really hooked me was the immediacy of Twitter — there is no thought process or need for editing (other than “Can this fit in under 140 characters or less?”). Getting out a thought, no matter how minute or ridiculous or profound fanned the flames. According to TweetStats, I averaged 20 tweets per day for January 2009. My overall average is 10 tweets per day, which via another statistical tool (of which I can not find now, obvs.), was higher than the average tweeter who does something like 5-7 tweets per day.

Some popular tweeters get along on much less. But it isn’t about the time of writing the tweets that becomes a problem, really, it’s the auxiliary work that becomes the issue. I use auxiliary as a term for things such as reading my public tweet line (which can take time especially when reading pages upon pages after period of non-reading. Like reading what was going on in the Twitterverse while I was in bed.), finding new tweeters, researching said tweeters (yeah, like you don’t Google everyone you digitally meet), reading those tweeters back log and making decisions on whether to follow them or not.

In short, tweeting is not just about the immediacy of getting out your special snowflake thought but it is also about researching and developing relationships with those in your network, which of course takes a lot of time. So much so that everything else I am working on (such as working in a library, homework, studying, personal projects) went to the way side and I hadn’t realized to the extent of how bad this addiction of mine was getting until it dawned on me that the first thing I do when I’m at work everyday is log into Twitter — before I do anything else. My own writing for my various blogs, journals and personal use also took a huge nose dive – libschooled. alone hasn’t been properly updated in ages.

Couple this with I was beginning to write professional emails in Twit-speak, the problem had to be curtailed and soon. Several Twitterpeeps were discussing what they were giving up for Lent and while I no longer practice Catholicism, I do like a challenge. Could I go 40 days without participating in the Twitterverse? No tweets, no adding friends, no reading the public tweet lines? If I could give up smoking, which was on the one crutch that I have been trying for years to give up, surely Twitter could be no worse. So, I resolved for the next 40 days (starting today, Ash Wednesday, of course) of no personal tweeting and no reading of public time lines. Twhirl has not been removed from my computers but it has been removed from my desktop. I’m even debating on removing the Twitter SMS number from my phone.

In my little world, Twitter will not exist, at least for 40 days. But of course there are exceptions, such as libschooled. has third party software that tweets when it is updated, so that is okay. And I also believe some other software stuff I have installed on various forms also tweets when that is updated, so that is also the exception. As long as I am not personally involved in the tweeting, then I have not broken this vow of Twitter-chasity.

What I’m going to be interested in is how much the Twitterverse will have changed in 40 days — how many people have stopped following me, how many people will begin to follow me. What new, cool and useful toys will make its appearance while I’m gone and how social networking within my own Twitter group will also change and also social networking as a whole in the Twitterverse. You can get in touch with via the usual routes and I’m always on gTalk.

See you in 40 days. More or less. 😉