Last year around this time I took a few months off from posting on Twitter and Facebook. It was so nice. I found the desire to write more long-form entries here on the blog and generally just felt more relaxed. It was like taking a breather after running for hours. I discovered that I had begun to think in 140-character snippets. Everything that I saw or experienced, my brain dutifully composed in my head as a tweet. My fingers would then, also dutifully, type that message into Twitter. It’s annoying, not only in my head, but probably to the world that reads those sometimes inane tweets.
As a result of that time away, I’ve used Twitter far, far less in 2011. Coincidentally, we’ve done an order of magnitude more business this year than last. Interesting.
As my stress level has steadily risen I decided to take the last few months off again. One week into that sabbatical, I noticed something different this time. I’m training my brain to think long form again, but I also miss Twitter a bit in one way: it’s actually useful. Several times I’ve wanted to ask a question on Twitter and stopped myself. But there are sometimes friendly people out there who like answering questions.
As with everything, it’s all about balance. I guess there’s nothing wrong with using Twitter for genuinely useful communication. I can use it when I need it. So now “taking off” means not posting every thought I ever have. It’s refreshing, and after just one week, I’ve found a renewed desire to write again. For a good chunk of the year I figured my not writing was because of having too much going on creatively. In the past week I’ve actually had to do more creative work than usual and yet still feel the desire to write. I still subscribe to the theory that I only have so many well-written words to give in a day. If I give a large portion of those to Twitter and Facebook, I rob my other endeavors.
It makes me wonder if I’ll use tools like Twitter even less next year. Probably so. I need to treat it as just that, a tool, and not a place for everything that sails between my ears.