A MinD in MoTown

Fighting the addiction.

Like most other days, I turned off the alarm and grabbed my cell phone. A few clicks later and I was on mobile Twitter, seeing what the world was up to before I threw off the covers and rolled – literally – out of bed. And, like those other days, I decided to save my first tweet for the office, which I’d stumble into an hour and a half later after walking the dog, a 15-minute date with my hair dryer, some makeup and the routine struggle to decide what to wear.

But this day – today – was different.

Twitter was down. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was convinced my work computer simply decided to hate me until I attempted the mobile version, which also refused to load.

“No big deal,” I said to myself as I meandered over to Facebook, only to discover error message after error message invading my computer screen. It wasn’t just Twitter escaping my grasp; it was Facebook, too.

After several repeated attempts to successfully browse each site this morning, I realized my attachment to these social networking devices – an attachment most of us bloggers tend to have. Sure, I somewhat acknowledged this beforehand, especially during moments where my boyfriend would harass me for tweeting through dinner, but it wasn’t something I took any more seriously than a joke. However, with this morning’s duo of downed sites, I can accept my position as an addict.

Whether it be Twitter of Facebook, these sites are the first I check in the morning from the comfort of my bed and the last I view before slumbering each evening. To count how many times I wander their direction would be nearly impossible, but I’d venture it’s at least several dozen times a day*. I tweet while driving, while working, while watching TV, while shopping, while eating, so on and so forth**, and I’m regularly checking Facebook just to discover what my “friends” are up to each minute of the day. Clearly these sites have become more than entertainment; they’ve moved into a pervasive element of my daily life.

And what’s worst of all? I know I’m not alone here. Since social networking became “all the rave,” so many of us have jumped onto this bandwagon, refusing to let go. We tweet, we update our statuses, we retweet and we play dumb games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars***, all while blogging our lives away when free moments arise. I almost can’t help but wonder what “real life” things we’re missing out on by engaging in these Internet activities.

Yet each element has become such a common piece of our generation’s existence that most of us – few of us, I’d imagine – stop to think about it until one site goes down and we wander the Web lost, trying to find something else to fill the void. That’s what I did this morning, after all. With Twitter and Facebook incapable of working properly, I read a bit more news than usual, made a few phone calls I otherwise might have waited to complete and skimmed through my Google Reader, all because two pages I frequent were beyond my fingertips.

Is being a social networking/computer addict a natural part of being a 20-something in 2009? Or are some of us taking our Internet lives farther than need be? At what point, if any, does succumbing to this world – the blogosphere, the Twittersphere and countless other sites – invade reality and keep us from completely enjoying a life without the clicking of keyboard keys and mouse buttons? For us addicts, is there truly a time when we’ll have to say “when”?

* An assumption of 25 each per day seems accurate, yet only approximate.
** I may or may not tweet from the bathroom, too.
*** I am only guilty of the first of those two, thank you very much.

15 Comments so far
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The thing is that we are the Internet. We are generation 2.0*. We should unplug once in a while. However, we are defining the future.

* Totally called dibs on Generation 2.0. I have a possible video about that soon. =P

You can have dibs on it. I should certainly unplug sometimes, and maybe avoid accessing the Internet constantly on my phone. I think it’s keeping me from other things at moments, things that are more imporant.

Comment by phampants

The whole reason I quit twitter is because of the addiction that you described.

Im not going to lie- sometimes I miss it…but not enough to go back to it.

I can’t quit. I’m too far in, but maybe lessening my attachment is a wise decision.

Comment by Matt

It pains me to say something so cliche, but I think it’s about balance. I’m annoyed by the people who assume that just because this is a new way of living that it’s necessarily worse than whatever we were doing before. Before I was addicted to the internet, I wasn’t a better person than I am now. I didn’t spend all my time reading and volunteering. I found other distractions. But, like any addiction, the internet can take over in an unhealthy way and we all have to be careful not to let it. That said, I’ve never been addicted to Twitter or Facebook, but I sure do know how to waste a day on the internet.

My problem is that I am utilizing these services too much. I’ll literally tweet while on a date with my boyfriend. It happens often. That’s how I know I’m strangely addicted. Balance is necessary, for sure. Do I think we’re worse off because of things like this? No, certainly not. You’re totally right in saying that other distractions surround us anyway. But when you’re like me and you can’t go to bed without checking in, and then you feel a need to do so moments after waking up, maybe, just maybe, it’s a problem.

Comment by Ashley

I think that it’s the lack of moderation that leads to blogger burn out- I always try to walk away for some part of the day. I’m happier knowing I have a big corner of my life that’s offline, but honestly I don’t know how to curb the compulsion I feel when I *NEED* to check my e-mail.

I rarely jump in front of a computer when not at work, so there’s some moderation there. But I will quickly check news, Fbook, Twitter, my email from my phone several times at night. Using my phone keeps me from planting my butt at my desk all night, but I wonder if it’s actually any better…? You seem to have a fabulous life full of stories and adventures – even if little ones – and maybe if my real life was more exciting, I might not venture to the web so much. Maybe. Who knows.

Comment by Kyla Roma

I was just having this discussion with my fiance. He always makes fun of how much I’m on the computer & even though I know he is just joking, really I am on the computer a lot more than I should be.

When I went on vacation this past week I didn’t use a computer, internet, or phone for the four days I was there and I have to say I did fairly well, but of course as soon as I was back home, I checked every single site I had a password to! lol!

You are seriously like me then. I went on vacation about two weeks ago and I felt proud of myself for not using a computer once and significantly decreasing my Internet usage via my phone. But once I returned, I was practically glued to my computer, catching up on everything I missed.

Comment by Amber

here was my tweet today that best describes my feelings:
dear twitter, you suck today. and i suck for being such a slave to you. it’s a mutually dysfunctional relationship. love, me

really though, i am such an addict! i already have over 1,500 tweets…and i just started a couple months ago!! like.. january. sigh.

I very briefly saw that tweet and was about to @reply, and then Twitter crapped out on me again. =/ I have all this space in my day now and I’m lost trying to fill it up. We are both, clearly, major addicts!

Comment by floreta

I won’t lie. I was a teeny stomach sick and dizzy when Twitter was down.

Oh man, that’s even a step farther than I. I was just confused, saddened, maybe one tear rolled down my cheek. Nothing major.

Comment by Ben

I am and was SICK! Like, I couldn’t catch my breath (ok maybe not that bad). Twitterberry still won’t connect on my phone but I JUST checked the website and it was back. but I use twitterberry on my phone 99% of the time, so I don’t know what to do with myself.

Damn you Twitter and your addictive hold over me.

Just saw your updated tweet that Twitterberry was working again, so yay! I use the mobile Twitter on my cell phone internet browser and that hadn’t worked all day. I haven’t checked it again, but hopefully it’s up and running as well. Stupid Twitter. We’re clearly addicts!

Comment by thatShortChick

I am also addicted. You know how athletic people get, like tennis elbow, or whatever? I have refresh finger. Its basically a disability.

Hahaha. Hey, if you can hurt your thumbs from texting, it’s completely plausible to have refresh finger.

Comment by Jill Pilgrim

It’s so hard for me to admit but I think I am an addict too.
I try not to be. I just love my routines.
For me it’s my gmail account and googlereader too…

I’m not addicted to my GReader, but I definitely check it often. That, however, is easy to do without (plus I can’t access it on my phone).

Comment by Kez

I always wonder what the next social media fad will be, the next Twitter or Facebook. It’s bewildering to think that there will be something we don’t even know about yet that will take over our lives.

P.S. Check out my site today if you get the chance.

Way to plug your site. =P

And you are quite right. Something is bound to crop up in time that we aren’t even aware of yet, and it’ll be the next “best thing” for many of us. Remember when MySpace was “it”? That’s clearly a site worth leaving behind by now though. When, if at all, will that point come for Twitter and Fbook?

Comment by Andy

[…] was reading this today – a great blog post about one blogger’s addiction to social networking sites! And […]

Pingback by At least I’m honest! « So I was thinking…

Twitter and facebook were down when it’s already so late here, I fell asleep and didn’t know anything about it. I considered this a blessing since I’m so addicted to both, I’ll be as confused and pissed as the rest.

I suppose you somewhat lucked out then, huh?

Comment by Andhari

This is sooooooooooooo true. I feigned indifference until I couldn’t any longer…lol

We all cave eventually.

Comment by dalipstickbandit

Good post. I have been struggling with this lately. Last weekend I went to Wisconsin to visit the fam and I didn’t check Twitter or Facebook for TWO days. At first it was maddening. By the end of the weekend, while I was excited to check the sites, I realized that my two days without them were actually really fricking great. I’ve been on a bit of an experiment lately to cut back my internet use and while I HAVE cut back, so far I still use it way more than others–for example, my parents–consider normal.

With that said, I also check both sites before I role out of bed in the morning. 😉 What to do?

We’re stuck somewhere in between a silly addiction and wanting to put a buffer zone around the internet. “What to do?” is so right.

Comment by hautepocket

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