Shouting Into The Void

December 23, 2012

At the end of November I made an impromptu decision to take a break from Twitter. Just decided to stop using it. To stop checking it incessantly.

One Eyeball and One Thumb

Luke Wroblewski writes in his book Mobile First:

“I like to imagine people as ‘one eyeball and one thumb.’ One thumb because they are likely to be holding their mobile in one hand and using a single thumb to control it; one eyeball because in many locations where mobile devices are used we only have people’s partial attention.”

Luke is speaking to the mobile experience and how to design one that understands the context in which the user is using it in. There is no such thing as full attention. I’m coming from the other side of that thought. Between constantly viewing Twitter on my phone or a few other news resources on my phone, I’ve hardly given my full attention to anything. I’d sit in my living room with my wife, watching tv or a movie, and every other minute be checking something on my phone. I’d play video games and if there was a pause in the action I’d pick up my phone. It’s a disease.

The Remedy

Since taking a break from Twitter, and deleting my Twitter clients from my phone and mac, it’s been 100% for the better. A result that I didn’t expect is that I feel a lot better about myself as a person and a designer since I stopped. That has been a strange outcome because one of the main reasons I’m active on Twitter is to connect to other designers, to be apart of that community, and to grow from that. I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit it’s because I want to be famous. I want you to know of me.

That hasn’t really been working out though. Granted, I have met some awesome people that I never would have without Twitter. I’ve met some incredibly smart and talented designers. Some of them know it and are total d-bags about it too.

The Twitter Eco-System

I like to refer to the designers I follow on Twitter as a community. That is because it’s many of the same people communicating back and forth every day. You know them.

Twitter can be a total downer if you’re looking for affirmation though. It can be like a high school clique in there. Some people are popular for being popular. You’re not popular and so they’ll ignore you. When I return I’ll ignore them right back. It’s a waste of time.

Constantly comparing yourself to others can either sharpen your skills or make you depressed because you feel like you’ll never get there. Removing that daily flaunt from my life and suddenly I can see my own work as it stands on it’s own feet and realize it’s pretty darn good. Not perfect and there’s always room to grow, but still good.

Depending on how many people you follow on Twitter (I try to stay around 200 or less, otherwise it’s a noise factory) it can be overwhelming with a literal stream of people telling you what you should be learning, what you should already know, how great they are, etc. You need a break from that from time to time. I’ve been on Twitter because I wanted people to know about me but I’ve known all along that the followers and awareness would come when I worked on something that was worthy of bringing them in.

Doing Other Things

So, while I initially didn’t set out with any goals for this Twitter break, once I was free of that major distraction, I started to think about what I was going to do with that time I was previously, essentially, throwing away. I’ve been working on this site and tweaking the layout some. I’ve been learning more about responsive design and mobile-first thinking and implementing it in full-time job.

I’ve been reading a book. Yeah, like a real one that someone put time, energy and thought into writing. I’ve been reading some blogs by intelligent people that have meaningful thought behind them.

And beyond that I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do going forward. I want to be great at my job and if that results in people knowing me going forward then that is most welcome, but it’s not my number one priority. It has been for a while now and it’s such an empty experience. Twitter is for famous people not people who want to become famous.