Learned from Twitter: week ending August 8, 2009


This week I did not really learn much from Twitter, at least not from the actual site itself. This week, I took a sabbatical from Twitter. I did not tweet, check tweets, respond to tweets or anything related to Twitter. I took the week off from staying up to date with what people were doing, 140 characters at a time.

And I learned a few things along the way…

1. I am very relational.
I like interacting with people, knowing what is going on in their life and being able to quickly communicate. This is one aspect of Twitter that I truly enjoy. I know this fact because it is the one thing I really missed during my Sabbatical. I do not have as much regular “relational” interaction with people as I have in the past and I think I find this void partially filled in with Twitter. I know some of the people I interact with on Twitter I have only met once in real-life (and some I have never met), but that does not mean there is not a friendship in place. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are youth ministry-minded folks – and those are “my people.”

2. Twitter is a great way to stay up to date with friends.
People use twitter to update the status of their job search, vacation, prayer needs, or new addition to the family (rather it be human or animal). Without making numerous phone calls every day, I would not be able to keep up with all of this information. Twitter is the central meeting place for all of this information, and I’m glad it is.

3. Twitter can be very time consuming.
Depending on how often you check Twitter or how long you stay on the site, it can eat up a few hours of your day without you realizing. On the other hand, if you use mobile devices for your updates, you can add up your time just as quickly and become distracted from your surroundings. It is easy to “just check” for new updates every half hour while working on something else that you never really get in a “groove.” But this is not a problem with just Twitter, it can happen with anything in your life (see point #4 & #5).

4. Even if you take Twitter away, you can find other ways to “waste time.”
There are many other websites that can take over your time: Facebook, myspace, YouTube, ESPN, or TMZ to name a few. I’ve heard many people (esp. people on Facebook) mention how silly they think Twitter is or what a waste of time it is. Yet, as I think back to my pre-Twitter days and my Sabbatical I can honestly tell you that anything can be a waste of time. I think things become a waste of time when we use them to avoid what we need to be doing. Some people use music or TV to avoid talking to someone (maybe its your spouse). You can read to avoid household chores. Anything can become an avoidance technique, which then becomes a waste of your time.

5. I need limits to everything I do, or I’m bound to become consumed by anything.
It doesn’t matter if its Twitter, video games, TV shows, reading or exercising – I tend to take everything to the extreme. Personally, I struggle with finding balance in areas of my life. I start to do better in one area, which means I do worse in another one. This need for boundaries/balance is an ongoing struggle, which I assume will stay with me until I need someone else to do stuff for me.

6. I like technology.
Nothing much more to say – I really like technology. Case-in-point: I have been on Twitter since March 2007 – well before it became popular.

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