thoughtwisps One commit at a time

there and back again

A few months ago, I made a contribution to a genre that is so very 2010s - I wrote a quitpiece about my Twitter account. Now, I am making a contribution to another, perhaps nascent genre that necessarily follows the rise of the quitpiece, the relapsepiece, or the story of there and back again.

Everyone loves spending time in an echo chamber of curated experiences and instant internetlove, which ping up on a user’s screen and deposit an immediate microdose of gratification in her brain. The amount of time I spent staring at the notifications icon and the ever-scrolling screen of little thoughtbytes on a myriad random topics was alarming, not very productive or relaxing, but strangely satisfying and addicting. It brought memories of idle moments spent on a dial-up connection playing an ancient ancestor of Candy Crush on a Finnish gaming website. Hours could pass without anything more significant than little pictures of diamonds, sapphires and rubies flashing by in various combinations.

I’d start my mornings by wanting to reach for my tablet to check on it.

I deleted the native Android client.

And then I used the browser to access the mobile version of the site.

I also remembered the notes from pre-college alcohol addiction training program. Wanting a drink first thing in the morning is a warning sign.

So why are we more worried about people reaching for a morning whisky than we are about people reaching for their smartdevice?

Unfortunately, quitting Twitter cold turkey is hard, because the site is designed to leave you, the quitter, a window of opportunity to repent and rejoin. The 30 days that must pass before your deactivated account is permanently deleted are ample opportunity to struggle with neuroreceptors freshly deprived from a never ending stream of (mostly) low-nutrition and easy to digest infobytes.

This certainly had a big role to play in why I am writing this relapsepiece. The other, is the small nuggets of truly valuable signal that can be unearthed in the noise. One of these is definitely, Stephanie Hurlburt’s Twitter account. Stephanie’s call for other Twitter users to post offers of help and mentoring has already lead to several fruitful discussions that I hope to continue and to learn from.

For now, I will stay for the discussions and the learning. But I am also being mindful of how and for how long I visit. The advice and warnings of Cal Newport’s New York Times piece ‘Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It’ are never far off from my mind. I think there is still too much we don’t understand or choose not to understand about the consequences of embracing communication and social media technology, with open, unquestioning arms.