Time to go cold turkey on Twitter? close

Luke Hubbard
Luke Hubbard
In Musings
4th January 2010
Time to go cold turkey on Twitter?

Step 1: My name is Luke and I’m a tweetaholic (averaging about 10-20 tweets a day).

I signed up for the micro blogging service back when it was still in its infancy. Initially I didn’t use it much as hardly anyone I knew was using it. That changed when we organized the first BarCamp in Bangkok and every name tag had a place for people to put their twitter name. Being a small community, once a few people start using something it spreads like wild fire. Since then Twitter has been a major catalyst for the growth of both the tech and expat communities here in Thailand.

Twitter proved its worth during the recent political turmoils that battered this country. It was the only place where you could hear the opinions of both sides and follow unfolding events in real time. I recall when tanks were rolling down the streets, we knew exactly where they were and what direction they were headed thanks to friends tweeting (and retweeting) updates. When the “red shirt” gangs took over the streets in protests there was a constant stream of photos and videos from the ground. People were concerned but at the same time there was a good community feeling of bonding. We made jokes about what was going on, debated possible outcomes, and prayed they wouldn’t shut Twitter down.

On TV the political problems playing out on the streets of Bangkok made @breakingnews on both CNN and BBC. Unfortunately they reported the same dumbed down “edited” version of the story that failed to convey an accurate picture. This made me realise that if you are following the right set of sources on Twitter you can get a broader spectrum of news than you get by taking as gospel what old media decides to spoon feed you.

Nothing travels faster on Twitter than news of an earthquake. Back in 2009 there was a 8.7 earthquake off the cost of New Zealand. My mom lives in New Plymouth, so it immediately grabbed my attention. Seeing there was risk of a tsunami “expected to hit the cost in about 15 minutes” I called my mom on Skype right away...

“Hi mom, sorry I haven’t called in a while. I don’t want to cause alarm but there might be a tsunami heading your way... Perhaps you should turn on the telly.”

The online simulation showed the tsunami was unlikely to reach the north island. So the purpose of the call was really about breaking news rather than delivering a warning to run for the hills. But nether the less it makes one wonder, had Twitter been around when the 2004 Asian tsunami struck, how many lives could have been saved?

I think its clear twitter has real value. Over the past year I’ve made good friends, connected with the industry, recruited staff, and kept abreast on the latest breaking news. There is no disputing Twitter is changing how we do business and how we interact with customers online. By all accounts the trend will only accelerate, 2010 is poised to be the year the “real time” wave breaks. Armed with this information, I’ve decided to head for the hills.

Last night while coding I listened to Jason Fried’s talk on the negative effect of distractions on your workflow.

He suggested “spending Thursday without talking to anyone in the office”, the less distractions, the more work you will get done. This along with the enduring voice of Gary Vaynerchuk in my head made me stop and think: I’ve got the passion, I’ve got the skills, really all I need is enough time “in the zone” (coders will know what I mean) to deliver on the vision. Life has thrown me a bone, an opportunity to “crush it”, in order to make the most of that opportunity its time to make some sacrifices. Here is my New Year's resolution.

I’m going cold turkey on Twitter, restricting Skype to a certain time per day, and reducing the torrent of news to a trickle. Unless there's a tsunami headed for Bangkok, I don’t need to know. If there are tanks on the street, and I happen to leave the office, I’m sure I will notice.

How long do I intend to keep this up? I’ve set a target of 64 days before I come up for air. Hopefully when I surface we will surprise the world with our rocking new app.

You can wish me luck on Twitter (@lukeinth) but come 00:00 GMT+8 on 01/01/2010 don’t expect any @repiles

Cold Turkey three weeks on – the update:

Three weeks on and how am I holding up? The first couple of days without twitter were ‘odd’. I kept coming across things that I wanted to rant or rave about but there was no outlet available. Like anyone who gives up something they have become reliant on, you have those moments when you feel a relapse coming on. And I have to admit that I have had one so far, tweeting to tell the world about a Thai ISP which I discovered had been hacked to host Russian malware. Nobody seemed to care and so I quickly deleted the tweet. Generally it’s been OK, there was life before twitter and there is life after it.

If I'm not feeling productive, rather than tweet or read news sites, now I try to either get away from the computer and do some exercise.

Work on our new app is going well, nothing to show the world yet, but if you are interested you can sign-up for updates on the website. http://www.getdash.com