Silent Treatment

Here are some thoughts and ramblings from the week I gave up Twitter.

Day one: Wake up, delete Twitter app from phone. Stare at the new blank space on the home screen. Spend an unsettling amount of time trying to make apps bounce around to leave the no-longer-Twitter space empty, rather than the default one in the bottom right. Realize it’s impossible, cross arms and curse Steve Jobs a little bit. Cheat and text in the tweet I wrote in my head a few days ago.

Go about my day feeling off-balance. Think of things that would make good tweets, but fight the urge. Fight it like Twitter is an ex-boyfriend that is never to be spoken to again.

Day two: Avoiding has become easier, thanks to surprisingly strong self-control. I’m still writing tweets in my head when I pass Tyler, The Creator look-alikes on my way to work, but I’m refusing to give in. I’m actually spending more time thinking of how great it will be to get back to the book I’ve been reading.

Day three: As I watch the evening news in the newsroom, I’m hit with the crippling fear that if something major happened in the world, I would have no clue, because I’m not checking Twitter — my main source for news. It takes a while to remind myself I get AP and CNN updates to my phone. And that I work for newspapers. Duh.

I’m starting to feel a little freer. Lighter. I’m still thinking of things that just have to be out there in 140 characters or fewer, but remind myself that it’s fine if it’s not out there. The internet doesn’t have to know everything. Right? Right?!

The rest of the week is strange. It really does feel like a breakup. I sneak peeks at it, but only briefly. And I feel guilty afterward.

* * *

When a friend of mine went silent for a week and survived, I had a hunch I should try it for myself. For real this time.

I had to do this to make sure I’m still in charge of my life. This silly little thing has turned into a massive, not-good-for-my-mind-or-social-life thing.

Twitter occupies my thoughts constantly. Throughout the day, I’m always feeling the need to see what other people are up to. I’m incessantly writing witty (or not) tweets in my head, then imagining the feedback they’d receive. I feel like it’s necessary to tweet at certain increments of the day, as if someone will notice and think the earth has stopped rotating because I haven’t tweeted in six hours.

And that’s just not healthy.

My productivity has been shattered. I can’t sit and read a book, even books I love, for more than 10 minutes before my brain starts firing “I bet something interesting happened online!” messages. As soon as I wake up, I scroll through my Twitter feed until I can’t fight the urge to pee anymore. I spend at least an hour before falling asleep every night doing the same.

I made jokes about my addiction to it before, acting like it was no big deal. But I’ve always known deep down how terrible it was for my mind. I’ve tried disconnecting before, too, and that just never works. Doing it on a smaller scale, just one outlet, has been more manageable.

* * *

It’s kind of like that time I gave up drinking pop, cold turkey, just to see if I could do it. I was bored and sick of the feeling it left on my teeth. I grew up in a house with half of the occupants loyal to Pepsi products, the other to Coke. We’ve always had both — and their various other flavors — in the fridge, so I always thought pop was the only dignified beverage.

I wanted to see what would happen. Would I feel better? (Yes). Would I feel like I could live without it forever? (Probably, but do we really need to go to such lengths? (No)).

And that’s where we are. And I’m returning to my old friend, because I’m lonely and I’m bad at giving up on things I don’t want to give up on.

A note: I resisted titling this post “Silent tweetment” because I’m trying to cut back on the cute puns. But just know that it did cross my mind. 

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