Twitter Sabbatical, Reflections

Last Thursday I went on what I termed a ‘Twitter Sabbatical’. The week leading up to my one year anniversary as an active member on the site, I cut Twitter out of my life. No reading, tweeting, or other networking allowed. The only exceptions to this were daily ‘I’m alive’ tweets and following up on relevant @replies and DMs where necessary. Full details on the rules may be found here. After the jump, see what a week away from Twitter does to a person.

Day 0

Wednesday October 28, 2009
I sent my last tweet at 10:25 PM on Wednesday October 28, 2009. I promptly deleted Twitterific from my iPhone and shut down my computer. By 11:30 PM I had already logged onto Twitter Mobile to check my feed one last time. Knowing I wasn’t supposed to be checking Twitter made me crave it more, but it was still before midnight, so I was still allowed. I went to bed a little later not knowing how the next week would turn out.

Day 1

Thursday October 29, 2009
Woke up, reached for the phone and went through my morning routine, weather, email, facebook, twitter. Twitter, no Twitter? I’ve gone weekends without tweeting before but no reading posts either? This is going to be difficult. The first half of the day proved the same. Sketching in Illustrator I didn’t have my usual 20 second break of checking the latest tweets between creating layers. The second half of the day I survived though and having gone out to dinner with friends I didn’t even crave evening checks (though I would have loved them of course).

Day 2

Friday October 30, 2009
Friday was easier than Thursday. More than the conversations I missed the constant connection I had to the design worlds and all the links everyone posted. I couldn’t help but feel I was missing some important piece of design news by not being on Twitter. At the same time, I started feeling that ‘ignorance is bliss’ and not knowing every piece of Apple news the second is is released is not a bad thing.

Day 3

Saturday October 31, 2009
Pretty much the same as Friday. Didn’t really crave it much. I did attend Carnegie Mellon’s Homecoming and the School of Designs 75th Anniversary… a lot of quotes lost to the time line of real life since I couldn’t live tweet the panel on the history of Industrial Design and the program itself… and then Halloween happened and not tweeting was likely a blessing in disguise.

Day 4

Sunday November 1, 2009
Starting to twitch a little bit more. Running into @jdoobious and @wosemary at Dozen Bake shop, my Sabbatical came up and I was called out on my praise a few weeks before that Twitter is ‘how I know the design events to attend in Pittsburgh.’ Feeling artificially distanced from the networks, I’m waiting for the next three days to be over.

Day 5

Monday November 2, 2009
Apparently my Sunday Tweet that I’m still alive got some people’s attention and seemed contradictory to the whole Sabbatical thing. @mccue and @birdypeter thought it clever to call out my Tweeting despite my following the clear boundaries set forth by the initial blog post. If we thought people had a short attention span and couldn’t read 140 characters, remembering a blog post from a week ago has been proven even more difficult. I survived Day 5 but I am really missing the conversations with my Tweeps. I also want to use Twitter to get some feedback on an article I am developing but will have to wait till Thursday.

Day 6

Tuesday November 3, 2009
Simply put – I think this was a good day to not be on Twitter. Some colorful discussions throughout the day that likely would have led to some regrettable tweets. I was however upset I couldn’t live tweet the premiere to ABC’s remake of V and criticize it’s lifting of themes from 4400, Lost… oh wait, that’s just where they grabbed the cast from.

Day 7

Wednesday November 4, 2009
The effects of the Sabbatical finally took root, and not a moment too soon. I came across a handful of interesting links via the ‘analog methods’. You remember, manually going to a blog or website or Google? Wanting to share them with friends I actually looked up their email addresses and sent them personalized one-off messages with the links within the body of the email. No 140 character limit despite writing brief emails, no mass broadcast. It’s funny that that used to be how we shared links.

Conclusion

So there were no life lessons learned, no ‘aha’ moment of pure clarity. This was an interesting social experiment though and I suggest anyone with an unhealthy relationship with a social network to cut the ties for a week or so just to reflect on its impact on your life.

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