The Digital Dependency

Yesterday I read a great post by Jody Hedlund talking about how social media can suck up way too much of your time. It was weird that she posted it when she did, because that was exactly the time I needed a wake up call.

I’ve got some problems.  See, I like twitter. Like a lot. I’ve got it running on my computer pretty much non-stop, and if I’m away from the big screen it’s always there on my cellphone. I’ve caught myself checking tweets at work, while shopping, even in traffic. And the worst part of it all is that I’m letting it start to encroach on my marriage. My wife and I will be eating dinner together, and while she’s telling me about her day I’m on the phone checking the latest update from wherever.

I’m becoming a caricature. My life is like a live action Windows phone commercial. If I sound like I’ve been a great big jerk, it’s only because it’s true. And it has to stop.

The solution isn’t to get a better phone. The solution is to act like an adult and exercise some self control.

So here goes. It’s not New Year’s but I’m making some resolutions anyway, because I need them. I need to remember what is important in my life.

1. I will leave my phone beyond my reach when me and my wife are spending time together. If we are out and about, and I have my phone in my pocket I will kill all my wonderful little apps and leave them killed until our time together is over.

2. I will do my best to listen to my wife and support her when she is having emotional issues. I will not let myself be distracted by trivialities. If she is talking I will turn the radio off and listen only to her.

3. I will never let her feel less important than anything else in my life.

I need to get some things straight. I still want to connect and grow my network as a writer, but I have to remember that nothing is more important than my marriage.

How about the rest of you? Does twitter take up more time than you’d like to admit? Do you find it overtaking things that should be more important? Or maybe you’d like to tell my what a great big jerk I am. Leave a comment and let me know.

15 responses to “The Digital Dependency

  1. Glad to see you’re giving this some thought. I wish some of the people I follow on Twitter would do the same. Too many of the people I follow because they’re writers are forcing me to have long second thoughts, not just about following them, but about continuing with Twitter. A personal tweet now and then tells me there’s a real human being there. Endless tweets about diet, health, the latest 500 words written, the weather in Podunk, just make my eyes glaze over.

    Twitter can build a platform or destroy it. The same behavior that alienates a wife can alienate followers.

  2. I second Catana. 🙂

    Except I’m not going to ditch Twitter because some people tweet endlessly. I follow a small number of people. Whenever the list of people I follow starts creeping toward 100, Twitter is not as useful to me, and I start unfollowing.

  3. The number of people you’re following isn’t necessarily significant. I’d hardly call 100 a small number. I follow(ed) only writers and publishers, about two dozen of them. I unfollowed two the other day and there are at least three more on the hit list. There’s nothing to keep a writer you admire from being a boring chatterbox when they’re not churning out the stuff you admire them for.

    And I did just delete my account.

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  5. I’d say 100 is smaller than 1,000. 🙂 I follow 55 people. And yes the number itself isn’t necessarily insignificant. But I find it does make a difference in my Twitter stream.

    Congratulations on ending your Twitter addition. 🙂

  6. I assume that was a typo, and you meant addiction. It was merely one more attempt to do what’s expected these days if you ever want to be known. “Building a platform.” Taken up reluctantly, used frugally, and given up with relief. At least it gave me material for a blog post, so not a total loss.

  7. Actually, I meant “deleting your account.” I didn’t get the impression you were addicted to Twitter from reading your comment. Mr. Berg is the (hopefully) ex-addict.

    I think I know what you mean by “do what’s expected these days.” I look at the social media mavens and am blown away. I try, but I can only do what I’m comfortable doing. I know it’s work, but I also want it to be fun, not overwhelming. I hope agents remember it’s the quality of the book that counts first and foremost.

  8. I’m glad I was able to spark a little conversation between the two of you.
    As to cutting back on my tweets, I’m working hard to find the balance I talked about earlier in the week (or was that last week?). I follow a lot of people who update far more often than I do, so it is easy to become desensitized to overtweeting.
    I’m sorry to see you leave the twitterverse, Catana but I understand it can get frustrating trying to keep up with the stream. For what it’s worth, I took Kristen Lamb’s advice and got tweetdeck, and that has been an absolute lifesaver. It gives me the ability to blow past a lot of the chatter and focus on the important stuff.
    And again, thanks to both of you for reading. Your comments and conversation made my day.

  9. I often have similar thoughts about Twitter. Some days I look at it and say, “What the shit am I doing on here, anyway?” And some days it reminds me why I keep working at this online persona thing. Because at the end of the day, for me, it’s pretty rewarding to be able to have conversations with other writers. I like feeling like a part of this community. I can’t always comment on a blog, but I can @mention someone anytime.

    • Yeah, I love the sense of community. And honestly, I don’t even really mind everyone posting stupid stuff about their day or the weather or whatever. I just need to learn to put it down and walk away every once in a while. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Hey Albert,

    Glad my post could spark some thought for you. I love when that happens! 🙂 Seriously, I think that you’re doing the right thing to set some boundaries. And also, after time, the newness of Twitter wears off some, and then it gets a little easier to let it go. The ease of access, the fact that we can literally have social media with us everywhere we go, makes it hard to keep it from taking over. We all need to develop that self-control, because we need it to protect our writing time too. Wishing you all the best as you set those boundaries! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, and the original post. I love my cell phone, but honestly it tends to suck me and and not let go. It was actually a lot of fun hanging out with my wife yesterday with all my notification apps turned off. We had a total blast.

  11. I had this problem for a while, and my solution has worked great. I turned off the data plan on my phone and turned off all the text alerts from twitter and facebook. It’s hard, especially when I’m expecting an email or trying to facebook stalk an ex while I’m driving, but worth it. (And I’m saving a ton of money, too.)

  12. When I started Twitter I realized boundaries were going to be an issue. There are just so many cool people to talk to. I’ve started setting the timer on my kitchen stove for no more than 30 minutes. I use that one instead of my computer so I have to actually get up and turn it off. Thanks for your post.

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