Is your life all a-Twitter?

Are you Twittering? It seems like that’s what all the cool kids are doingand talking aboutthese days. Then again, we already know I’m not cool, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not on Twitter either.

Twitter makes me even more anxious than Facebook does, for reasons that are similar but not entirely the same. I have a Facebook page; I accepted an invite from a non-blogging friend a few months ago. But I’m rarely over there. I could see pretty quickly that it has enormous time-suckage potential. Of course, that potential can also be spun in much more positive terms as “social-networking opportunities,” and there’s the appeal. However, it’s a blocked site at work – which is probably for the best – and since work is where I spend the bulk of my daylight hours, time on Facebook would mean time I’m not spending with my family and/or various offline life activities including real-life socializing and reading. There are still only 24 hours in a day, and since large blocks of them are already dedicated to my job, commuting to and from said job (blech), and sleeping (mandatory!), that doesn’t leave a huge discretionary time budget. I’m choosing to spend the online portion of that time budget on blogging (writing, reading, and commenting), and that’s my social networking.

I understand that Twitter is intended for short communications and not for composing long-winded blog posts like the ones I put up here. I get the sense that where it eats up time isn’t so much in posting your own updates, it’s “following” everyone else’s, and that brings up the same issues for me that Facebook does (although it doesn’t seem to be blocked at work – yet). I understand that you can Twitter without a computer – it works by phone as long as you have text messaging – but there’s still the time consideration. And if you don’t spend the time on it, are you missing out on a lot?

For the most part, my contacts seem to be divided pretty neatly between online and offline (although there’s a bit of overlap in my LinkedIn connections); I haven’t yet met any of the online friends offline (but I do know that quite a few are Twittering already), and most of the offline folks don’t seem to be drawn to doing much online. I know that a few are involved in online communities like Facebook and MySpace; some of them do read my blog (thanks, y’all!), but I don’t know if they read any others, and they aren’t blogging themselves. I’m afraid that mentioning “Twittering” would just get me a blank stare in response. And then there’s the whole “following” concept. I get that it’s basically the same idea as subscribing to your favorite blog feeds, but having “followers” sounds a little like a virtual entourage to me. Besides, you may recall that I’m a little apprehensive about the whole “networking” thing in the first place…and what if I signed up for Twitter and no one wanted to follow me? That would just make me sad.

But I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing out on something here, and I’d like someone to enlighten me. I know that ultimately this is one of those questions I have to answer for myself, but humor me here, please. If you’re on Twitter, make a case that I really need to be there too, and that it won’t take over my life. And then you’ll need to convince my husband, who already worries that I may be spending just a little too much time in online communication modes and not quite enough on my offline relationships. I don’t want him to be right about that, and I really don’t need another time-consuming hobby eating away at my days, just as I’ve made a lot of progress at managing the time I’m spending with blog-related activity (really, I have! I swear! OK, maybe “some” progress is more accurate than “a lot.” Anyway, moving on…).

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  1. I opened an account on twitter about a month ago, I have yet to do anything with it. It’s too intimidating for me. May I’ll try it some day. Don’t know if this helps. 🙂

  2. I’ll follow you. 🙂

    Twitter is fun. For me, it supplies the “office chatter” I miss out on by being a working-at-home mom.

  3. Found you through Weekly Geeks! 🙂 I’m on Twitter, but I don’t really Twit. (Ha! Twit!) Pretty much any social networking site is blocked at work, and pretty much the only time I would Twitter would be at work. Also, random people choose to follow me, and I find that a little creepy. Sort of stalker-like. But you can block anyone you don’t want to see your activity, at least.

  4. Hey
    I found you through somer. I Twitter and I do like it. It’s a way to hear the little bits of daily life from people who are a long way away. You know the kind of thing you might mention across a desk at work but not in an email.
    It’s much better than Facebook which I have completely lost interest in due to all the requests for things.

  5. Thanks for all the Twitter feedback – keep it coming.

    Mike – I understand the intimidation, since clearly I have some of that myself. But mention it on your blog if you actually start using your Twitter account…

    Karen – Oh, good, because I would definitely follow you too!

    Somer – Exactly…and the last thing I really need at work is another distraction, so I’m still on the fence. Thanks for stopping by – I think Weekly Geeks will be fun!

    Alix – I know what you mean about Facebook, which is why I’m really not using it much. Good point about the “casual comment” aspect of Twitter. Thanks!

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. My feelings are pretty much the same as yours. I’ve resisted joining or even looking at Twitter,, or other sites that have “time-suckage potential” (love that!) Blogging takes up most of my online time (and then I always seem behind there as it is) so I’m always hesitant to join any more communities of whatever sort. I did join Facebook because a couple of friends are on it and nowhere else but I almost never go there. And I have to say I don’t get the appeal of the food fights and all that. Sigh. I suppose I’m not cool either. 😉

  7. Tanabata – Thanks for returning my call :-). I’ve added your blog to my feed reader, by the way.

    I’m much in the same place as you are about blogging vs. other online activities. And I find it pretty cool to be uncool. 🙂

  8. You just reminded me of a post I was going to write about Facebook that I’d forgotten – thanks! Once it’s up, you’ll understand why I have no plans to join Twitter anytime soon.

  9. April – Your post may also help support my reasons for spending so little time with Facebook – I’ll look forward to reading it :-)!

  10. i love Facebook! a bunch of friends, both real life and online, are there. i play Scrabulous there with a number of them, and i enjoy the iLike feature for my music.

    i recently put “Twitter Updates” on the sidebar of my blog. it’s a fun way to say something quick about what’s up with me. i don’t have a lot of people that i follow – but Alix (above) is one of them. if you were to Twitter, i’d definitely follow you! 🙂

  11. I see Twitter mentioned here and there, but never really knew what it was about until recently. Your reasons for hesitating in using Twitter and Facebook are exactly my own. I’m quite content with the set up I have, I think.

  12. Alisonwonderland – I know you’ve mentioned Facebook and Scrabulous (which sounds totally fun, and I like Scrabble) often on your blog, and that you really seem to enjoy them. I’m sure I would too, if I spent the time there – and that’s what worries me, so I’m avoiding it. (But if I do get on Twitter, I will follow you over there!)

    Literary Feline – It just seems like Twitter has exploded recently. I may have some need/legit use for it down the road, but right now I’m afraid it would just be one more thing to keep up with, and it feels like I’m already spread pretty thin sometimes.

  13. Hey, Florinda. I’m always kind of slow to catch on to social networking sites for many of the same reasons you mention. I went through a period where I was spending a lot of time on Facebook, but as that service deteriorated into a lot of silly applications (time suck indeed!), I stopped checking it daily.

    Twitter is something else. If anything, it’s allowed me to strengthen existing online friendships and make dozens of new ones.

    It can be very addicting, especially when all my political junkie friends are tweeting the candidates’ debates – or when another live event like the Oscars is on (and you are able to gossip about the stars in real time with your offline friends). I’m learning how to manage it, by choosing dayparts that make sense (i.e., when I’m just sitting around while waiting for my daughter to finish an activity – I tweet by texting on my cellphone).

    At any rate, I think you should give it a try – and I will definitely follow you! I’m there as socalmom (of course).

  14. Donna – I know you’re big on Twitter, and you were one of the people I was really hoping would weigh in on this, so thank you!

    I’m actually wavering toward signing up for it and seeing how it goes, despite my misgivings about its addictive qualities…but I’m not sure I’m quite ready yet.

    I’ll definitely mention it here if/when I do, and I will certainly be following you there!