Confessions of a Tweeter

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I just got this interesting article from my good friend, Dr Mike. He is not on twitter. I responded after reading this article.

Confessions of a Tweeter
By LARRY CARLAT

Published: November 11, 2011

It started June 25, 2008: “Testing, testing. Is this thing on?” My first tweet. I began by trying to make a few friends laugh. I had no idea how quickly tweeting would consume me. Before long I was posting 20 to 30 times a day, seven days a week. Some of my posts were funny, some sad, some vaguely existential — “Living happily ever after is killing me” — some flirty, some filthy. I posted daily for three years with only one exception — the day my father-in-law died. Eventually, I attracted about 25,000 followers. Not bad for a noncelebrity.

Soon my entire life revolved around tweeting. I stopped reading, rarely listened to music or watched TV. When I was out with friends, I would duck into the bathroom with my iPhone. I tweeted while driving, between sets of tennis, even at the movies. (“I love holding your hand in the dark.”) When I wasn’t on Twitter, I would compose faux aphorisms that I might use later. I began to talk that way too. I sounded like a cross between a Barbara Kruger installation and a fortune cookie. I posted every hour on the hour, day and night, using a Web site that enabled me to tweet while asleep.

It was an obsession. And like most obsessions, no good came of it.

Eight months after I began tweeting, I was laid off from a job in the music business. Looking for work in such a bad economy was brutal. Almost a year went by before I finally landed a job at a men’s magazine. Just before I started, I removed my name from my Twitter feed and replaced it with my initials, L.C.

One morning, a few months later, my boss came into my office. “We need to talk about your Twitter,” he said.

“Sure,” I said. “What about it?” He told me that someone in H.R. had stumbled on my tweets and was stunned. (Apparently, the ability to craft crude anatomical jokes isn’t what corporate America looks for in new employees.) My tweets were a clear violation of the company’s social-media policy. I had a choice: to delete the account or face termination. Sensing that my days were numbered, and being ambivalent about the job anyway, I chose to fall on my sword.

Being unemployed was even harder the second time around. On the other hand, I had more time to tweet. What did I get out of it? Certainly not fortune or fame — on Twitter I was, for the most part, anonymous. But for me, every tweet was a performance. As John Updike wrote, “No act is so private it does not seek applause.”

About a month after I left the job, I separated from my wife, and I moved out of our house on Long Island and into an apartment in Park Slope. One morning, in a fit of pique, I wrote something like, “I would’ve taken a bullet for my wife, but now I’d rather be the one pulling the trigger.” To me, it was just a joke. To my son, it was a disturbing remark about someone we both love. He threatened to stop following me on Twitter. I deleted the tweet immediately.

Around this time, perhaps not coincidentally, my habit started to feel less like a rush and more like a burden. Instead of tweeting to reflect on my life, tweeting had become my life. I began to think seriously about giving it up.

I retweeted some of my older posts, telling myself that they would seem new to my now much larger audience. The truth was that the self-imposed pressure to post constantly — and for the post to contain at least a kernel of wit or real feeling — had sapped me. I was burned out.

I finally committed “Twittercide” about a month ago. Some of my followers begged me to reconsider, and the flood of affection and good wishes felt a little like the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But I knew it was time to return to mine.

Do I still have the occasional urge to tweet? Do I continue to compose tweets in my head? Do I miss my Twitter friends? Sure. But the immense weight of compulsion has been lifted. Now, before I go to sleep, I turn off my iPhone before I turn out the lights. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is of making coffee, not of typing “Someone spiked my coffee with optimism this morning and I spat it right out.”

In my next-to-last tweet, I encouraged everyone to follow my son. With luck, he will also know when to stop. He is pretty funny. He will be even funnier when he gets older and sadder.

Larry Carlat is a writer, editor and Web professional who lives in Brooklyn. He is not on Facebook.

Hi Mike,

Thks for the article. My right of reply from my own perspective.

The Chinese saying “走火入魔” best describe this situation. Hope we don’t have to reach this level.

This guy is always giving out tweets to his huge audience of followers. He is always obsessed with giving out tweets. He is incessantly haunted by the pressure to tweet. We give “sweets” though!

I usually subscribe to or in twitter terms, “follow” the main newspapers or news sources such as Today, Asiaone, ST, Bloomberg, Zaoboa, Temesek Review, Singapore quotes, Workers’ Party, Fake PM Lee, BBC, CBS, Breaking News, The Washington Post, Singapore Traffic, NEA, TechCrunch, Malaysiakini, Yahoo Sg, eHow, WhatsApp Status, George Yeo, Chen Show Mao, Gerald Giam, Jeffrey Archer, Dalai Lama, Shambhala Times, Mohd NajibTun Razak etc …

Each session – when I log in my twitter account – give me 200 latest new tweets. I need not read all the individual newspapers. If I like a story tweeted by say Asiaone, I will just click on the link and read the details. If not I just let it pass. If I like that story, I will re-tweet it or post it on my FaceBook – sometimes with my added comments – or email this tweet with the story and my added comments to my friends. NEA usually tweets twice daily on local weather forecast updates.

I receive most of my first hand latest news here before it appears on radio or tv via breaking news from ST, Today or Asiaone. It is free latest information. Remember when I told you the other day that they just found another body in Bedok Reservoir – the 6th so far! I got it from twitter.

When the recent General Election results were progressively announced over radio and tv or rather when we were waiting for the results to be announced. I was glued to twitter for all the updates, live coverage from the counting centres, mood of the crowd and candidates etc etc via the major newspapers, politicians, private citizens or individuals giving out incessant live tweets etc …

Even the political rally was tweeted minute by the minute via TOC – The Online Citizen. Such is the overwhelming power of tweets – it is part of the social media’s holy trinity – Twitter, FaceBook and Blogs. The traditional media ie print newspapers, tv and radio are fighting a losing tide against the onslaught of social media. It is here to stay. Tweets will stay and keep growing irrespective of your preference. It will catch on with youngsters just like what “sms” used to be in our generation. But then sms is shared only amongst few friends.

Today’s youngsters have just discovered the new powerful social median twitter [twitter appeared rather late about 3 or 4 yrs ago. It contains a maximum of 140 characters whereas mobile phone built-in sms is 160 characters] they possess on their hands to cast their tweets to the virtual world wide web with no limit or boundary at all!

For instance when Mr Brown or Fake PM Lee tweets, almost all in Sg cyber world react and move in tandem! WTF! Langgar!

We simply do not have the time to read all the newspapers. By subscribing to or follow those tweets, we can cut down time and follow all the latest hot news & happenings in Sg and worldwide.

If I want to find out what ppl say about the latest bestsellers, I can also do a search on the twitters’ search engine. All those who tweeted and commented on the subject will appear. From there I can read what they say. This is how I utilise the twitter tool which I find very useful. There are also many who came to my blogs via twitter cuz I post or tweet my blog daily. It auto tweets my blog when I publish my blogs online.

“When the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight”
Jack Welch

Let us then embrace these latest technological developments in our final stage of world civilisation. It portends an ever exhilarating epoch in human existence.

Read Nielsen Study

Read Why I stopped using Twitter.

Read To the Pointless Bubbles Out There!

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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