Defeat a Twitter Addiction

In the entertaining world of social networking, the need to be online constantly, or to check updates frequently, can creep up on you unawares. An addiction is a term used when a person is "compulsively or physiologically dependent" on something. In the case of an addiction to Twitter, it can mean that you don't feel able to go a day without writing tweets and following others' tweets, and you feel deprived, unhappy, and perhaps even out of the loop of what's happening when you're away from Twitter.

If you find Twitter has started to fill up too many hours of your day and you'd like to stand back and put this social networking tool in its place again, here are some suggestions for unraveling your Twitter addiction.


  1. Decide whether you qualify for a Twitter addiction. If you've got one or more of the following common warning signs of being addicted to Twitter, you're in need of a Twitter reality check:
    • Tweeting is more than fun. It's akin to breathing. Without tweeting, you don't feel you are... anything.
    • The tweets must go on, no matter what. Even when you don't feel like tweeting, your hands and fingers haven't received the message and have gone ahead and tweeted for you. Inconceivable you say? Addictions involve actions that you don't want to do, or even actions you don't realize you're doing. It has reached its zenith when you don't want to realize you've realized that you didn't realize you were tweeting.
    • Insignificance takes on monumental proportions. The mundane matters. The crowd on your tweet-stream deserves to know that you... got up this morning.
    • People without Twitter accounts are Luddites. Period. They've been removed from your address book. You'd remove them from following your Twitter account if only they had one.
    • Giving Twitter updates as you leap from the crashing plane, give CPR to a nearly-drowned pal, or witness a horror smash is considered perfectly normal. So is reaching for the Twitter account before the epi-pen.
    • Twitter is your day. The rest of what could have been your day is arranged around it; the job is slotted in, the kids are given glazed nods, and dinner's out of the store freezer for the fifteenth month in a row.
    • It's essential to find someone else to post updates for you when you're incapacitated because of that nuisance work trip or annoyance of a life-improving operation. Providing your substitute with a total schedule, you've told them what to say, and forcefully rammed it home that they'd better maintain your usual tweeting tone... or else.
    • The Make Twitter Fail Whale Coconut Cookies looms large. After realizing you can't post a tweet informing everyone that Twitter is down, you curse, air-punch, and grind your teeth. You refresh the screen again and again and again until the Twitter conversations return. Only to tell everyone how down you were when Twitter was down.
    • Your work is piling up. You have a lot of unfinished projects and you still feel compelled to tweet.
    • You just cannot seem to be able to go a day without tweeting. It makes you uneasy and you feel better once you log back onto Twitter.
    • You have been told by your parents, coworkers, or supervisors to stop tweeting, and you find yourself unable to stop.
    • Your real life relationships are deteriorating because of all the time you are spending on Twitter.
  2. Own up to your Twitter addiction. Yes, it's a Rejuvenate a Cliche for Creative Writing that half the battle is admitting the problem but not acknowledging it means you won't change the addictive behavior. And before you rush to tweet that you have a Twitter addiction, by all means admit it to yourself but remember that there's no need to tell the world.
    • If you do tweet about your Twitter addiction concerns, it's likely you'll receive a lot of ha, ha, LOL tweets back with comments like "me too, and "oh I know, isn't it just too bad". All of which minimizes the importance of your realization, which can easily cause you to downplay the importance of admitting your problem.
    • Be aware that some people will want to Deal with an Uncaring Carer any attempts you make to withdraw from or minimize Twitter usage. This usually happens when the potential saboteurs know their own usage is out of control but they cannot change it. They don't want any evidence from someone else that it's possible to manage Twitter as anything less than a lifeline.
    • If you must say something about toning down your Twitter use, couch it in much more general terms, such as:
      • "Got a Stick to Writing a Novel to finish. You won't see much of me here for a bit."
      • "Giving birth tomorrow. Since I'm no supermom, you won't see me around till I know how to parent."
      • "Huge, v. big secret work assignment just came up. Will be unreachable for a few months."
      • "Tweeting less 'coz I've discovered marathon running. Off to train!"
  3. Plan your Twitter time. If you're inwardly groaning about how any person could ever "plan" the use of what is essentially a spontaneous medium, you're right. Twitter works because of its spontaneity. And that's also its weakness because you don't feel like there are any limitations of time, day or night, to when a good (or not) tweet can be unleashed. The plan that you'll need to adopt involves when, not what, you'll tweet, so relax (although, do try your best to minimize the inane and ramp up the qualify). Try the following:
    • Allow yourself a set amount of time every day, reserved for Twitter. Some suggestions are: 15 minutes every 3 hours, or one single block of an hour a day when everything else is taken care of.
    • Set precise tweeting times. This is different from the previous suggestion in that you can set a time every day, say 12:30PM to send one tweet message. Stick the to exact allotted times.
    • Check when your tweets have the most impact. Using only high-impact times can lessen your daily usage. Choose your time to coincide only with the time of most impact; this will vary depending on where you live and your interests. Assessing the time of most impact is especially important if you're promoting your blog, your novels, or your Appreciate Inner Beauty.
  4. Set aside "pure Twitter time". This means avoiding use of Twitter as something you can do while multitasking, such as watching TV, reading your exam notes, or writing articles about quitting Twitter. Used this way, Twitter serves as a distraction, an excuse to not fully concentrate on whatever else you are doing. The problem with viewing anything as a multitask activity is that you tend to downplay how much time it wastes and how much it distracts you from getting anything done fully and with satisfaction; instead, it feels piecemeal and never quite "done". Setting aside time just for Twitter can be helpful in overcoming using it as part of multitasking messiness.
  5. Fire your Twitter supporting cast. All those apps and planning sites that make Twitter such a breeze for you – get rid of them. Whether it be Tweetie, TwitterBerry, TweetDeck, TwitterFon, PocketTweets, or ceTwit, these mobile Twitter platforms enable you to tweet practically anywhere and everywhere. Removing these applications from your phone will greatly cut down on the amount of time you're logged into Twitter each day. Try it before rolling on the floor in disbelief; you can, and will, Thrive in a Recession as a result.
  6. Turn Twitter into a hobby and not a habit. For example, make going on Twitter something you indulge in on weekends only. You'll look forward to on the weekends, when you'll be more alert and able to craft more interesting tweets and perhaps connect more deeply with a few rather than trying to keep up with the too many.
    • Doing this might help to increase your work productivity if you're in the sort of job where they allow Twitter usage (if work's so boring you'd rather tweet, time for a new job maybe?). On the other hand, if Twitter is a part of your work, create a plan to use it the most efficiently, especially if you're working remotely.
  7. Spend time away from TMI (too-much-information). The constant bombardment of messages can induce a sense of constant hyper-awareness that keeps you on edge, in need of reacting and worrying over things you can't, on the whole, change. Is that a nice way to feel all the time? Give yourself information free time, Relax Under a Tree, or down the gym, or wherever your favorite quiet spot is. Without your phone.
  8. Realize that you're not alone in suffering from Twitter addiction. Ever noticed those accounts that just vanish? Not those "suspicious activity" ones but the raw food guy who was a fanatic about sending you raw food tips every day, or the poet whose Twitter haiku astounded you in its eccentricity? They seemed so nice, always around like Twitter furniture! Many of the accounts that disappear or wind down are people who have that moment of realization that too much time spent on Twitter is time not spent on other pursuits. The raw food guy wants to make his recipes instead of tweeting them; the haiku poet wants to spend more time in a quiet, wooded wi-fi free zone to reflect and restore her creativity. Be kind to yourself in realizing that others have been here already; the evolutionary nature of social networking means that many people continue to keep revising how to balance Twitter in their already busy lives. Keep your perspective about Twitter's place in your life as fresh as the updates.
    • What have you given up for Twitter? Was it an inane pursuit like watching too much TV, or something that mattered, like writing, exercise, reflecting, or spending time with people in the flesh? The answer to this question may help you to find the necessary motivation to make the time and energy input adjustments.
  9. Quit Twitter. While radical, if you've tried everything else and Twitter is still coming before the mowed lawn, the descaling of the shower, and the ironing of work clothes, then you might have to switch it off permanently. After all, will Twitter actually land people on Mars? No. But you can bet it'll be tweeted endlessly by people whose claim to space flight expertise is drawn from a bunch of links. If you don't know how to leave, here's how:
    • Log in to Twitter
    • Click "Settings"
    • Click "Deactivate my Account" at the bottom of the page
    • Enter your password when prompted. (Without the correct account password, you will not be able to deactivate an account.)
    • Verify that you really want to do it. If you've come this far, then you do. Have your life back. And those Luddites are having a great wine and cheese do on the corner of fifth and third...


  • Think about installing a web protection program and disallow access to Twitter. Although you will know the password, it will cause you to pause and think.
  • Always keep in mind that you are doing this voluntarily, and for your own good. If you don't do this, you cannot get rid of your addiction once and for all.
  • This is the message Twitter sends you when you've been missing for a while: "So much happens on Twitter every day, whether it's breaking news, a deal at your favorite shop, a local traffic jam or a funny pick-me-up from a friend. Twitter keeps you informed with what matters most to you today and helps you discover what might matter to you most tomorrow." This telling message suggests you're not capable of working out what matters to you without being continuously tuned in. Bear in mind that the intention of any site is to keep you there; the site doesn't care whether or not it's beneficial for your personal life balance. Be the decider of your own needs.
  • If you have teenagers, follow the rules you've imposed on them about social networking hours. You do have rules to guide their healthy and whole maturation into adulthood, right? Just remember they're watching your example...


  • It's not a good idea to seek advice on Twitter addiction from other Twitter users. They'll only convince you it's a good thing. Instead, seek out those who do not use Twitter or other similar social networking sites, especially those who have used it in the past and have quit successfully.
  • If you find it hard to stop tweeting, it may be best to stop for good.

Things You'll Need

  • Restored hobbies, activities
  • Planning sheet
  • Timers to remind you when to stop

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