I am writing the first part of this post on January 31 because it’s all fresh in my mind. I’m going to assume that by the time I end my self-imposed ban on Twitter in late February, I’ll wonder why I enacted the ban in the first place.

      Let’s all admit it: we’ve all spent too much time refreshing or watching the data-push flow for minutes and hours while we sit aimlessly at the computer. I know a lot of my evenings are spent working on blog posts, editing photos, and checking the same cycle of websites over and over again in the hopes that something new will capture my attention: Facebook, Twitter, photography forum, repeat. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I need to think in 140 characters or less, so that I can update my status with something witty or relatable.

      But do you really need to know that I love eating peanut butter sandwiches at 8pm? Or that my cat is sick (yet again)? Or that I oppose SOPA/PIPA yet again; here is another article for me to retweet to express the vehemency of my views!?

      We people, people who own our own businesses, people who relish every success and blot out the negative, pat ourselves on the back — out loud. Self-congratulating oneself is fine; it’s just… all of us have our ebbs and flows. My good day is not your good day, and your good day can be one of my bad days, and things can become very narrow: I’m happy for you but I want to be happy for me, too. There’s an article that’s been making the rounds that Facebook (but let’s be real: much of social media can have this effect) is making us miserable because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others.

      Don’t get me wrong — I love Twitter. It’s like the water cooler of independent business owners. Pop on, ask a question, get a response back from eight different people — it’s great. But it’s also a terrible place where you can feel surrounded by people having conversations yet feel so alone and ostracized (without anyone really meaning to keep you out of the loop).

      So I decided to just cut it out of my life for a month. Will my brain stop thinking in 140-character phrases? Will focusing on myself and my business, my relationships around me and my own health, feel richer when I’m not comparing it to other people’s triumphs? Will I come back in a month feeling invigorated and detached, and not as addicted?

      Also, why now?

      1. I don’t get a lot of traffic from Twitter. I use Twitter for networking with peers (mostly other photographers). My target audience is not on Twitter, so I was curious to see if removing my presence from Twitter would have any effect on my stats at all.
      2. It’s low season for me right now (meaning no weddings). All the content I’ll be sharing will be a mix of personal posts, recaps, and maybe one or two engagement or portrait sessions. My wedding season starts back up in March, so I should be raring to go when that happens. The people who want to continue to visit my blog and see what I’m up to will do so in other ways (either by subscribing to my fan page on Facebook or already have me in their Google Reader).
      3. There is a big photography conference happening in February and 60% of the chatter right about now is about that big event, and I am not able to go, so this is my way of opting out.
      4. Maybe an inactive Twitter will lose some spam account followers.
      5. Why not now?
      * * *

      Some thoughts as the experiment went on:

      Day 1: Something totally awesome happened and I itched to tweet about it so that others could agree about how awesome it was. Instead, I had to wait to come home and make a Facebook status about it. (I refuse to have Facebook on my phone.)

      Day 3: I see now that I am replacing Twitter with Facebook. I’m looking at Facebook more often. Is this good or bad? I looked at Facebook a lot already (in the evenings) but now I’m checking it more often in the daytime. We’ll see if this turns ugly…

      Day 7: I broke the ban so I could tweet how excited I was to meet Meg at the book tour stop. I miss Twitter but I also feel more focused without it. Still, it’s a bit sad not being a part of a lot of the conversations happening there daily. I feel less social.

      Day 13: What a weird day. I went from thinking, “Life without Twitter is so incredibly liberating!” to feeling lonely and hopping on because no one on my Facebook feed was discussing Smash.

      Day 14: I’m checking in every now and then. It seems as though if I can’t keep myself 100% away, I will inevitably be drawn in. At least Twitter is no longer on my phone.

      Day 16: DMing is more efficient than emailing sometimes. Especially when you’re too lazy to look up the recipient’s email address. Bah.

      Day 24: I think I’ll end the ban early.

      Now it is February 29 and I’m writing the second part of this post. Being off of Twitter was pretty freeing. As the days went on it was less of a compulsion to go check it, and more of an interest to see what was happening with other people. I broke the ban several days early because I didn’t really care about making the point anymore.

      * * *

      Results:

      1. My web traffic was not affected.
      2. Like I figured, the people who were interested in my life continued to read my blog despite the fact that I wasn’t tweeting links.
      3. While I did want to opt out of the conversation surrounding the photography conference, a lot of chatter leaked over onto Facebook. It is what it is.
      4. I didn’t lose spam followers. In fact, I gained about 10 followers during my absence. I don’t know why or how. And a lot of them are real accounts.

      I’m back on now (have been for a few days) and will now answer the questions I posed to myself a month ago.

      Will my brain stop thinking in 140-character phrases? Yes, mostly! This was a pleasant surprise. However, by the time I decided to use Twitter again, the same creeping, truncated thoughts popped up almost immediately. I think, unless I cut Twitter out completely, this will be one of those things that will never go away.

      Will focusing on myself and my business, my relationships around me and my own health, feel richer when I’m not comparing it to other people’s triumphs? It was nice focusing on my own business (well, still is!) and rather than “catching up” on all the things happening to other people I know, I decided to just read more — books, that is. A lot of Jane Austen.

      Will I come back in a month feeling invigorated and detached, and not as addicted?  It’s fine. I don’t leave the window open all day. I pop in, look around, read the last 10 or so tweets in my feed, and then pop off again. Maybe my absence or lack of engagement in other conversations is noticed; maybe it isn’t. We’ll see how it goes :)

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      I definitely tweet and facebook less now, I think I average 1 to 2 tweets a day, while I know many people who tweet like 5-10 times a day. And facebook is even less, like once every two or three days. I read it because I’m bored to be honest. Also, I have always thought that online relationships are not real 80% of the time. A twitter friend is not equal to someone who will come over when you’re sick and comfort you. So comparing yourself to them is useless. It’s like we’re in little isolated silos, and people are randomly throwing stuff into the universe. When I was going through some major pain, I think I tweeted once. And then hid under the covers until I felt better. I think if you’re in real pain, twitter becomes meaningless.

      Ok, I rambled. It’s what happen when you give me more then 140 words.

      I totally get what you mean, Nadine… Right now I think Twitter is kind of meaningless unless you want to be fluffy and social :P

      Well… I hate to say it but I didn’t even notice you weren’t tweeting until now you’ve said something about it. :-/

      2nd year of college I was so obsessed with FB that I would make us late sometimes to just check what the latest update was. So I gave it up for Lent that year. And now, I just don’t care for FB as much anymore. I don’t think to post my statuses, I don’t think to post pictures, I don’t think to even read all of my friends updates. I’ve been getting back into it slowly esp since FB is on my phone and pings me with updates, but it is liberating at least to not feel the compulsion to post or be “on” all the time.

      I glad that this experiment helped free you just enough to feel like you can handle Twitter now, but also feel like you don’t have to tweet all the time. :-D

      Liz – It’s funny; I knew a lot of people wouldn’t notice. I’m not saddened by that :) Usually I don’t realize that someone is missing from Twitter until they tweet again after a long spell of not tweeting, and I’m always like, “Oh, where have YOU been?!” I’m glad you’re pretty much over your Facebook compulsion :)

      I’m proud of you. I don’t think I could do it. Although since you told me you were doing the ban – I tried to consciously take more time away from Twitter myself and it was nice. I felt more focused on my ‘real’ life and I liked that. :)

      I have really been feeling the need to cut down my Twitter (and Facebook) time lately too, but it’s hard since I work at home alone all day, and Twitter makes me feel like I have “co-workers” in a weird way. It’s really interesting to see how this went for you. And awesome you ended up reading more!

      I appreciate your scientific approach to this :-) I especially love seeing your thoughts throughout. Sadly I think I would just rely more heavily on other apps if I cute twitter out :-/ I’m proud of you though!!

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