To Tweet or Not to Tweet

By: Austin Anderson

It all started on July 25, 2011, at 1:16 p.m. “lockout is over #thankthelord” I tweeted for the very first time. I was new to the Twitter world, and I felt alone and confused. Was I supposed to use a hashtag every tweet? What even is a hashtag? Can you #hashtag?

I was just rolling with the punches as I was still primarily dedicated to Facebook and the wonderful days of “like for a truth is …” and “why what’s up?” where my facebook friends would “like” my post, and I would post some completely made up heartfelt message for them. Usually I would say, “I don’t really know you that well, but that should change,” or sometimes I would dig deep into my creative, loving soul, and pull out a “you’re pretty cool, hit me up.”

At a junior high student council meeting, we were reviewing how to be safe online. The instructor asked how many facebook friends we had, and when he asked if anyone had over 600 friends, and I was the only one to raise their hand, I was without a doubt cemented into the realm of awesomeness.

After that, everything changed. My mother punished me by taking my phone away from me for deleting her as a friend on facebook too many times. I knew something had to give in a world of social media, infested with adults. That’s when the brand new world of Twitter started to arise. It was scary, new and bold, but we had to take a chance; we had to escape the parental controlled realm of social media.

I started thinking of a name for myself on Twitter, and so I used the nickname I had been given from my third grade baseball team, The Glove, and combined it with my favorite time in the day 4:44, creating the genius that was @TheGlove444.

Nineteen of my first 21 tweets were about football, and I’m sure the eight loyal followers I had were very intrigued by what I had to say. Then one day my friend told me she wasn’t going to follow me on twitter because I “only tweet dumb stuff about sports,” I was appalled, shocked and hurt. Looking back on it I probably should have turned around and told my “friend” to pull the knife out of my back that she so graciously yet fictitiously inserted.

But I knew she was right. How could Facebook’s most popular person in the Holmes Junior High student council only have eight followers? I stopped tweeting about sports at a 90.5 percent rate and tried being more creative. A 2 a.m. Twitter name change to something more creative might give me a leg up. After multiple rejections saying “name taken,” I was #blest to finally conclude my search with the creative and descriptive @TheNamesAustin. I worked my way up to 135 followers heading into high school and tried to get more into Twitter.

Going into my senior year, I thought I had reached the pinnacle of the twitter world, 500 followers. What was my prize? I got to throw it in the faces of my friends who had not reached this legendary number. I was back into the realm of awesomeness that had evaded me since my junior high Facebook days.

Then my friend decided to give up social media for his English class and dared me to give up twitter for a week. That’s easy, I thought. I don’t care about most of these people anyways. I uninstalled the app from my iPhone 5s home screen in under a minute of him daring me.

I caved three hours later.

I re-installed the app and figured I just wouldn’t get on it during the class we had together. He doesn’t have Twitter anyway, so I thought, he won’t even be able to see me.

That very next day it hit me. I didn’t control Twitter, Twitter controlled me.

I was addicted to Twitter.

The very first night I lay in bed at a time I normally would check Twitter and looked at the same Instagram pictures I had seen at least 10 times by then. I even found myself scrolling Facebook multiple times a day now, where before I wouldn’t think about clicking on that blue app with the white F on it for days or even weeks at a time.

I was looking for anything I could to fill the gaping hole I had in my days and heart that was previously completely devoted to Twitter. I missed it so much, which makes no sense considering most of the time I am on twitter I just get annoyed with the idiocy of people’s tweets. Yes, I see that you are having a great time with your best friend at the lake, but it seems like if you were really having a great time then you wouldn’t have to prove it to others.

Just the other day I saw a couple on a date eating a meal while on their phones the entire time. I can’t claim to be a relationship expert, but that certainly doesn’t seem like the night of your life out on the town.

Then there was some breaking news that I didn’t get to read about the moment it happened, and I didn’t get to see all of the Twitter fights first hand, but I still heard about them even if it wasn’t milliseconds after it happened.

Yes Twitter is one of the most impressive technological forms of communication, and when used properly, it can be very beneficial, but it also has many downsides. All things considered, when my time was up, I was still pretty excited to see my mentions blowing up with people tweeting and following me. After all, I had been gone an entire week.

I had one notification. It was a spam account that followed me. And then already unfollowed me.

I missed over 5,000 tweets from my timeline that I will never get the opportunity to see.

The Twitter world didn’t shut down in my absence; in fact, it seemed to thrive better than ever. It was a struggle to make it through the week, and I missed it very much. But it couldn’t care any less than it did. I only told three people I was giving up Twitter for a week. Nobody else mentioned a single word about it to me. Nobody noticed and nobody cared. I discovered that Twitter opened me up and used me. Twitter controlled me. After a week free from the demon, I feel ready to take on a new life without (as much) Twitter. I might read a book with all my new free time, do some research on an appealing topic, or even, heaven forbid, have actual human interaction with my friends, peers and acquaintances. Take that, Twitter.

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