Tweeting to myself
The next time you think, “Oh, I should tweet that!”, don’t. Experience life as private moments rather than as a performance. #mindfulness
– Me, oddly unironically on Twitter
Some astute observers of Noah (often called “friends” or “stalkers”) may have noticed that I have been tweeting much less than I often have. This is deliberate, and I have to admit, I like it.
I like it for two reasons. First, and this is a little embarassing to admit, but there’s a component of self-validation that goes along with tweeting. I put myself out there, and I want to know that people appreciate what I have to say. By tweeting more, I hope for (and even sometimes get) more @replies, click-throughs, and retweets. Tweeting sets into motion a whole set of other behaviors: engaging in more Twitter conversations, checking Favstar.fm, checking to see if I’ve been retweeted, checking click-through stats on bit.ly. Sure, it’s nice to be loved, but constantly hitting reload to see if I’m getting the kind of social affirmation I’m looking for is neither healthy nor a good use of time. Less tweeting means less potentially coming back at me, and that can be a good thing.
Second, Twitter changed the way I live, or at least the way I conceive of life. With Twitter, especially when used for personal rather than professional content, I found myself constantly thinking, “Ooh! I should tweet that!” Have a clever thought? “Ooh, I should tweet that!” Doing something other people would think is cool? “Ooh, I should tweet that!” Just get some exciting news? “Ooh, I should tweet that!” Read an interesting article? “Ooh, I should tweet that!” It’s ridiculous, really. Life becomes performative rather than introspective.
Enter Day One. It’s like Twitter, but to yourself, and with no character limit. Brialliant! Hmm…I think there’s a name for such a thing. Oh, right…a journal! I’ve never been much of a journaler or diarist, but this thing I can do. Day One gets part of the credit: I’d love to see an analysis of the app and how design can influence and encourage behavior…but that’s a different story. (Hint: the small size of the quick entry box makes it feel more Twitter-like and less intimidating.)
But the bigger reason I think I’m so into Day One is that tweeting has trained me to live not only performatively, but with a critical, reflective eye. So many of my “Ooh, I should tweet that!” moments I don’t actually tweet, either because I don’t think my audience would be interested, or because they just plain aren’t appropriate for Twitter (or anyplace else outside my own brain, for that matter). But with an outlet for them, those thoughts are captured.
And despite the mental barrier to entry being lowered by making the text box nice and small and having Twitter to have established norms of observation, reflection, and conciseness, I often find myself expanding on those thoughts, blowing through Twitter’s character limit, sometimes even going on for hundreds of words.
And the cool thing is that, even without the possibility of social feedback, tweeting to myself is just as emotionally rewarding as tweeting to the world — if not more so.