Saturday, 19 January 2008

Twithdrawal


Over Christmas and New Year, I exchanged my internet access for quality time with family and friends, for eight days of rest and relaxation and a chance to ease down from ‘working mum’.

I was expecting it and prepared for it – and the break was both difficult and welcome.

The change of environment made it vital – meant space to walk and smell the sea, time take my son to the edge of the wild winter water. Danacea was a world away, a Planet away – left in the endless anticipation of the scrolling Twitter screen.

Upon my return to Sutton, my laptop was waiting for me with eager puppy lights, begging me to log on. I succumbed to the Firefox double-click, braved the onslaught of emails, notifications, postings, twitter replies that I hadn’t seen… after the quiet of wind and water, it felt like white noise, but it felt like welcome.

More recently, I’ve been a victim of a Virgin Media power outage – and left spinning for two webless days.

I was neither expecting it nor prepared for it – at home, with my partner away and my list of evening-filling online projects abandoned, I was left hopelessly seeking something to do.

‘Something to do’, I say.

I have a job to do, a family to care for, a home to run, friends to see, a fitness schedule to keep… yet how many times do I glance at the clock in the corner of my pc screen and think ‘I need to go to bed’, ‘I need to get moving’, ‘I really need to get off my arse and spend this afternoon turfing three years’ worth of crap out of my son’s bedroom...’?

My partner doesn’t understand my shiny new fascination. He pushes himself away, swearing he’ll be the last person on earth to sell his soul to FaceBook. He throws Bill Hicks quotes at me – I’m sure fellow Marketeers know the ones I mean – and curses all things virtual.

He’s extreme, but he has a point.

It’s very easy to let Twitter consume your time.

Over my two webless days, I finally did those tasks I’ve been putting off. I had energy to burn, idle hands with twitching fingers. I was bereft, but I was busy – my windows have never been so clean.

During that time, I was thinking about the two tines of Twitter – about how they affect the lives of its users, their families, friends and businesses.

On the positive side, the sheer and overwhelming strength of the community to pull together in a time of crisis, or to support a friend – the huge force of fellowship that responded to Susan Reynolds and Ashley Spencer has brought forth tears all around the world.

On the positive side, an open arena for the exchange of information, both professional and personal: any member of the community can absorb as much or as little as they choose – from whomever they choose.

On the positive side, an environment where social groups are created. In the middle of my Christmas break, I dropped in to loudmouthman’s ‘social media living room’ to drink whisky and talk tech. I’d met warzabidul briefly, but had a chance to meet jasonjarrett, markharrisonuk and fred2baro – Twitter creates smaller communities within the larger one.

On the positive side, when you’re doing a wee bit too much of the Stay At Home Mum thing, your Twitter friends keep you from climbing the wall.

Fellow twitterers reading this, I know none of this is new.

But.

Twitter is enormously powerful. The flow of conversation never ends; the ripples of activity as your worldwide friends awaken is perpetual motion in action, endless potential as new days begin. Like all tools, it’s as good or bad as you make it.

There are just times I need to pull my head out of the screen and focus on what’s in front of me – my family, my home.

And there are just times when I dearly wish that the chasm between those two worlds were not so deep.

Over Christmas, my partner strained his knee and was sitting on the couch with a bag of frozen peas pressed to the joint to ease the swelling.

And there was no-one to understand why I chuckled.


6 comments:

Dan Mosqueda said...

First, thanks for linking me. Second, I like to take time out from Twitter and all things computer. A walk by the sea sounds wonderful!

Cheers - Dan

Danacea said...

Clears the head ;)

Dave said...

Nice first post. Look forward to reading alot more, so am shoving the feed into gr.

Danacea said...

Thank you :D

Rupert said...

I've been working out of the office so much this week that I have a whole week's worth of admin and office work and emails to catch up on, never mind Semanal videos and Twitter and Seesmic and and and

Which is why I'm here, reading your post after clicking your link in Twitter. Twitter's provided connections and opportunities that have changed my life in the last year, and it's the first place I go when I want to enjoy myself online.

BUT my self-discipline is so bad that I have to remove myself from it if I want to get things done. And I've avoided logging into it this week in the evenings, so that I could spend proper time with my family.

The conversations and flow of good stuff there is difficult to dip into and out of quickly. The more time I spend reading and responding, the more rewarding it is. If I spend a small amount of time there, I don't find it as satisfying or enjoyable.

But those long periods of time come at the expense of other things. Family, work, etc. Sometimes that makes me so panicked and stressed that it's not worth it. And so I undergo these enforced periods of cold-turkey. Which then make me think about what I'm missing online.

But all this is just my own lack of self-control, I guess. Ho hum.

Anyway, I'd better go back to processing my email backlog. Not via Twitter :)

warzabidul said...

Twitter is a great place to make connections with people that are interesting because of what they blog about. It's also an interesting way of finding out about real world events like tweetups and seesmic meetups for example.

Of course it's a virtual community to most people but not to us. That's because to us it's friends and family, both combined.

Many people don't understand Facebook but that's because their friends aren't there. Mine are so the view is different.

People will move online but online will move away from the computer towards mobile devices..