What happened was as Lent approached, I realised I hadn't got a "vice" to give up - having done a (mostly) dry January I wasn't in the mood to give up booze, I don't smoke and I had done bread the year before, so wanted to try giving up something new.
I read an article which advised that it should be something that I would miss giving up and that I was worried about taking over or influencing other areas of my life. So I gave up Twitter....
A few people noticed initially and were shocked/surprised, and one friend said she'd give up Facebook and would see me on the other side - she didn't do Twitter that much. Now I'm not that much of a Facebook fan - it's too invasive, it encourages all sorts of validation seeking, people only put their "good side" up or worse, over-share. Some of these things happen on Twitter, but I think to a lesser extent, and also Twitter is very lightweight and it is easier to stop following someone than it is to "unfriend" them - with the implication you are being "unfriendly".
So, what were the results?
- People missed me. This was really nice for my ego :) and also said I guess I must be doing something right with a mixture of sharing content I enjoy, comment on the news/politics and messing about with friends - both good friends and random people noticed they missed me
- Lib Dem Spring Conference requires a bit more organisation, using Facebook to locate people and getting more phone numbers. This is OK, phone numbers are better communication than twitter I think - more direct. However it was apparent that some people do use Twitter as a primary communication medium - journalists especially.
- My concentration span improved a lot and I got a LOT more done, in my personal life. I was able to concentrate on MY stuff, rather than pulled this way and that
- I was able to "be in the present" more.
- I probably felt a bit less stressed. I'm calm in general, and fairly happy within myself, but it definitely stopped a lot of the "OMG" moments twitter can produce at times.
- A lot of people told me that they "couldn't understand it" and "couldn't do it". This intrigued me - other things that I've given up, or given up for Lent, people have commented that they've tried, and failed, or tried, and suceeded - so it seemed odd to me that in this case it almost seemed like giving up breathing.
- I still shared - just on Facebook, Google+ or by emailing/texting people. So giving up Twitter doesn't mean giving up sharing, and that in fact would be a very hard habit to break
- Facebook annoys me just as much as ever and I've had to hide people, leave groups and turn off notifications as it's bleepy, bleepy (now literally!) ways actually invade my consciousness more than I want. I can never do as some do and have push notifications on either Facebook or Twitter, but even the little "world" notifications on Facebook got turned off for all but my favourite groups - principally because I was spending more time there. L'enfer, c'est les autres dans Facebook.....
- I'm aware the last two points contradict themselves!
- The last week has definitely been the hardest!
- I've missed the cut-and-thrust of my friends (and strangers!) chatter, comment and want that back.
- I've missed the immediacy of news, tho you aren't actually THAT far behind in the real world with news programmes, radio and email, there is a sense of "missing out" if you aren't on Twitter.
Do I think I'll do anything different when I get back to Twitter (on Easter Sunday)?
Well I hope I'll preserve the new organisational habits - Inbox Zero through using Mailbox, prioritizing everything, putting all notes in Evernote. I hope I'll read as much as I have been doing - I've read more books, more long articles from the likes of the Economist, and understood more difficult posts like this one from Fraser Nelson. I've kept up with my Top 2 - Stephen Tall and Dan Hodges through RSS feeds - which means Netvibes (since Google decided to close Google Reader whilst I was gone). And I finally read Brideshead Revisited, and it was great!
One thing is, I hope to have breaks in the future, and do recommend it as a "palate cleanser". But it is hard work.
If you've ever tried a Twitter break or want to, let me know in the comments.