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Cure for Twitter addiction

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13th-Aug-2018       
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Steve Albrecht  :
Same thing happened when Monica Lewinsky, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dan Harris, Adam Carolla, and Dr Drew retweeted something I wrote. I felt a physical buzz that bordered on elation. That's sort of stupid, right? Should celebrities (or again, their hired people who operate their Twitter accounts if it's not them for really real) be able to alter my mood like that? I guess the short answer should be solid no, but it's also a hazy yes.
I joined Twitter in 2011, for the primary reason for growing the exposure to my 30-years plus training and consulting business without having to set up a Facebook page. Many people in my life are big FB fans. Not me. Twitter seemed somehow better to me, faster, more tightly curated at 140 characters (now 280, as we have all become so verbose). I liked how quickly national and international news stories broke and updated, even faster than on the websites run by the media conglomerates. The humour on Twitter makes me laugh and it proves there are some really clever people out there who don't always work in Hollywood.
Although I consider myself a Twitter connoisseur, meaning I try to write thoughtful, insightful, informative, or witty tweets, I must not be very good at the form. Despite my national reputation as a thought leader in certain areas, I only have about 1,000 followers. My best friend of 47 years is Major Garrett, the Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News. Just to give you a sense of Twitter scale if you're not on the site, he has 185,000 followers. President Trump has 53.4 million followers, Kim Kardashian West has 58.4 million followers, and Justin Bieber has 104.1 million followers. The guy that just started his plumbing business has 12 Twitter followers. Relativity has its place in our world of who and what is important, it seems.
In days of old, each morning before coffee, I used to check my email to see what I needed to respond to. I then checked Twitter to see if the world was still standing. It may have taken me five minutes for the first task and 35 for the second, which foreshadowed the larger problem for me (and I'm assuming others like me), which was that Twitter is a 'time suck'. Like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, you can go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole and when you finally come up for air, it's lunchtime. The 'new me' is trying hard not to be like the 'old me'. Part of my recovery from my Twitter 'addiction' is to first admit I have the problem.
Part of this social media obsession/compulsion seems to be rooted in our feverish national desire to avoid "missing something important" that other people might quiz us about later. Part of it might be that we rightly feel that we "need to know about" whatever news story is immediate, frightening, or anger-inducing. And then I guess there's my category, which is that I get an endorphin rush when someone of prominence endorses my little message.
I define addiction as Dr Drew Pinsky does, a set of high-risk behaviours that have consequences. (Did I mention he retweeted me once?) So this description suggests that if you drink at work, gamble away your kid's college savings, or steal from your grandma to buy heroin, you are going to face the music at some point.
Can I quit Twitter? Of course! I've done it dozens of times! (Old cigarette smoker joke there.) But I still sneak back to that little icon of the blue bird after I said I won't. Why? I'll admit to more than a little anxiety if I go without Twitter for a few days (vacation, phone broken and in the shop, stranded on a mountain).
The era of outraged entitlement now plagues nearly every subject on social media. So out went the politics, Trump this and Hillary that; North Korea and Iran went bye-bye, to be replaced by tweets about stuff I really care about and, more importantly, that don't make me feel bad. This includes: pictures of Pugs in particular and cute dogs in general; major and minor league baseball; the NFL (I skip the kneeling for the national anthem stories); writers and the craft of writing; new and old movies; libraries; comedians; and the local Colorado traffic and weather. That's it.
I'm trying to scale back my Pavlovian reach for my phone. I don't lunge for the Twitter app while I'm still in bed or worse, while getting ready for sleep. I'm trying to cut down on my visits and be more thoughtful of the fact that the time I spend or waste on Twitter is unrecoverable and therefore more precious. The battle to disconnect continues.
By the way, you can follow me on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht. So it appears I'm still a work in progress.

(Steve Albrecht is a US-based keynote speaker, author, and trainer. Courtesy:  Psychology Today)

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