Tweet Me?

April 16, 2011

I have an addiction, but it isn’t to what you would think. I don’t have a stash of illegal and seemingly unobtainable drugs secretly tucked away in the depths of my most private drawer. I don’t have a cabinet guarded heavily by lock and key to protect my most precious collection of alcoholic beverages. I also don’t sit in front of a computer screen watching inappropriate acts of sex and I definitely do not have a small mountain of candy under my bed. Absolutely not. What I do have affects everyone around me and has rudely taken over and planted its flag of ownership upon my head. Whatever is left of my willingness to resist is either too far-gone to recover or has feebly surrendered all together. I struggle everyday to ignore the rather annoying itch, while tirelessly working to suppress all desire to get what I want. In fact, this very computer that I type this on is the ultimate facilitator. My enabler. My pimp. My name is Jamie and I have an addiction to Twitter.

“How profound,” you say sardonically. I imagine the crossed arms, the roll of the eyes, and loud sigh that reverberates about the room. Then I observe that final look upon me as if I had nothing better to do in life and that I desperately needed a hobby, a sport, anything. I stare back, defensive, but at the same time wary and defeated. Hands are on my hips now. “ Well, at least it’s not Facebook!” Wow. That was the defense of all defenses.

You see I am a hopeless case. I don’t remember how it started exactly. All I know is where I am today and how I feel about it. My iPhone has two twitter applications: Twitterific and Echofon, one of which drains the battery as if it were sucking the life out of it. I get tweets from specific users sent to my phone in the form of a text message. My Macbook is equipped with Tweetdeck, which is a constantly updating timeline that shows all the latest tweets. In the midst of that, I’ve actually made virtual friends that share the same interests as me and are genuinely enjoyable to have conversations with. If I’m not on my computer, I’m on my phone and vice versa. Don’t worry. I’m way ahead of you. I think the word pathetic comes to mind. But I wasn’t always like this. In a galaxy far, far, away I was once a diligent student, completely and utterly focused on the task at hand, and unaware that social networking sites would soon put me under its constant communication spell.

I was powerless to defend myself. Once I discovered Twitter, I noticed that I got all my news in one place. News ranging from worldly events, updates on my favorite television shows and movies, and tweets from actors, comedians, and musicians were always at easy access. I wouldn’t have to scavenger much to get what I wanted to know. What began as a once-a-day occurrence quickly became an hourly ritual. Overtime, I couldn’t stay away, wanting to know what was going on in the world. I don’t know why I’m so interested in being constantly updated with the happenings of other things. All I knew was, I was addicted to it and I did nothing to resist. Maybe it really is because I desperately need something else to focus all my time on. Maybe I’ve become so bored of my own life that I’ve turned to other fixations to fill some kind of unsatisfied hole.

No matter how psychologically driven this might be, it really isn’t an excuse for what has happened because of it. My constant phone use has not been unnoticed by those around me.

I was in line for a movie one cold, Saturday night. As I waited there patiently, tapping my broken flat shoe, I observed those around me. Behind me, were two girls, giggling at their inside jokes and generally enjoying life. Maybe they were laughing at my broken shoe, but I guess we’ll never know. In front of me, was a group of girls and boys that looked like they were in their late teens or early twenties. They were simply intolerable, complaining about how inconvenient it was to be standing in line waiting for a movie. It was as if this phenomenon of standing and waiting was some kind of strange, alien occurrence that only happens on Fringe. I stood there, mentally hitting my head against the wall. It was just one of those nights were you could literally slap the next person who dares to say something remarkably stupid. So there I was, trying to tune out the sound of their objections, when I noticed one of the boys from the group. He was about medium height, black hair, Asian, and leaning on one foot with his hip protruded out as if he were posing for someone. He was laughing among the group, participating every so often in their conversations, but was mostly looking down and then looking back up. Bored, annoyed, and curious, I cocked my head to one side to see what he was looking at. In his hands, he held a mobile device with the ever-so-recognizable Facebook logo on his screen. I’m pretty sure he was either looking at other people’s statuses or Facebooking the conversation he was having with the group. I can just see it now: “WTF…Waiting in line for a movie?!”

But what stood out the most is how despondent and preoccupied he was compared to everyone that didn’t have a phone in their hands. He was there, but at the same time, he wasn’t there. Is that what I looked like what I pulled out my iPhone? Did I look doleful and somehow unaware of what was going on around me, even though my body was physically present? Did I look hypnotized by this little gadget that was literally my access to everything? It looked to me as if he were in his own little world and it wasn’t until the line started moving that he put the phone away and became existent again.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this in others. I could simply walk around my college campus and locate at least 10 people totally under the control of their phone. Just recently, it struck me that I don’t want this for myself. I don’t want my boyfriend looking at me when my phone goes off to see whether or not I’ll tend to it. I hate when I’m around my own friends and I have this sudden desire to check my twitter. I fear as if what I have been observing is what I’m actually turning into. I just can’t stand the fact that I looked as despondent as they did when they were using their phones. The only difference is, my distraction dealt largely with Twitter. I don’t know why I can’t stay away. As unimaginable as it may sound, Twitter has become my daily newspaper that I can’t stop glancing at for a reason I cannot place. I need to stop, breathe, and discover a little thing called reality.

I’ve decided to conduct a little experiment, kind of like a Twitter Rehab if you will. Have I gone far in my all nonsense project of my own doing? Yes, I suppose I have. I’ve been slowing edging away from my phone, not checking it as much, and trying to not care what else could be happening. I’ve gone several hours, if not a full day, without resorting to my phone to look through my timeline. I feel more focused, like a haze has been lifted and I can finally concentrate on certain tasks. More and more everyday the need to check my Twitter has slowly ebbed away. However, there are moments where I just pop up my Tweetdeck and let it stay on the entire time I’m on my laptop. Fortunately, I can now click that little red X and all is good and great with the world.

Although, I must admit, I feel utterly ridiculous and embarrassed for even having a problem such as this. Nothing  another good ol’ blogging social networking site can’t fix.

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