Musings From My 3 Week Twitter Hiatus

Deleting the app and realizing its importance

Hello, hello, and hello. Let me tell you a story about a boy addicted to a bird-logo’d mobile application called Twitter. Overzealous to know everything, he would stop mid-workout to check this feed of endless information about everything from Donald Trump’s latest gaffe to #fivethingsIlikeaboutStarbucks. He couldn’t stop, checking this app within five minutes of waking up and five minutes of falling asleep. He finally decided, enough was enough, and deleted the app from his phone, blocked it on all of his Apple devices (even re-directing Twitter.com to an article about staying focused), and tee’d up other apps to fill the void.

Yes, that information-hungry, social media-addicted young man is me and yes, I deleted Twitter for a whopping three weeks.

Here are five quick observations from those three topsy-turvy weeks and why I’m now even more convinced Twitter still has an important place in my digital life:

1. Great content became tough to find

I found myself going to other platforms like Snapchat and Facebook to get more of my content. Unfortunately, neither had the diversity of opinions, depth of insight, and quick information necessary for me to “stay in the know.” My Facebook feed is often bothersome, tacky, and often feels like my High School writing class. My Snapchat Discover feed is, well, loud (Twitter is loud too, but with remarkably more defined voices).

2. Publisher home pages were visited often

For the first time in recent memory, I consistently started going up to that lovely URL bar and typing in a specific publisher’s website — an ancient practice. I ended up on the home pages of my favorite publishers like Vice, CNN, and Politico because I was so used to reading their particular content on Twitter. It’s interesting how publication home pages have evolved over the years, but at the end of the day, it became tough to focus on the top articles to read or videos to watch. Their social feeds, mainly Twitter, are highly curated and weeds out the extra stress of choosing an article –I missed this type of hand-holding.

3. Google served its role

When it came down to real-time news, I found myself heading to our old friend Google instead of other networks. Obviously, Google integrates with Twitter, but even besides that, the News tab on the Google search bar became incredibly useful. It satisfied the need to have multiple viewpoints on a specific news story or event. Did it exceed expectations or add an extra “oomph?” Nope, but it sure got the job done.

4. My burning, loud thoughts were privatized

As far as Twitter’s famous participatory tool, the self-made Tweet, I was lost without it. Did my latest thought about San Francisco’s great new coffee shop belong as a Facebook status? Probably not. What about my hot take on Bill Maher’s latest tirade? Nope. Facebook and other social media sites didn’t feel like the right hyper-connected chat room for these types of remarks. Only Twitter provides the robust discussion ecosystem to launch right into powerful conversations with our favorite trolls, influencers, and occasional High School rec league teammate.

5. Twitter still found me

As much as I tried to avoid Twitter during my hiatus, Twitter still found me. On home pages, Google searches, the rare TV broadcast, conversations with friends, one Tweet or another furiously entered the conversation (oddly, the demagogue running for President of the United States did not understand I was taking a break). It became obvious that 140-character capped thoughts significantly impact global dialogue on… just about everything.

Well, there you have it — I’m back, I’m fired up, and I’m ready to Tweet!