Among Twitter users, the term “Twitter addict” freely circulates and is unabashedly self-proclaimed by many members of the community. I am one of these people, who finds the allure so irresistible, I am often teased about my usage.
I started using Twitter in mid-2007. I don’t know the exact date because I have over 8,000 updates and unless someone can prove otherwise, Twitter and Twitter-tangent apps don’t allow me to dig back into the archives this far.
I have often debated the value of Twitter, most notably with Andrew McAfee, associate professor at Harvard Business School and Enterprise 2.0, Boston Red Sox and New York Times crossword puzzle aficionado. Since his first tweet on June 4, 2008, he and I have exchanged jabs, on the verge of SNL Point-Counterpoint diatribes, over each other’s usage, with him calling me an “emotion-junkie” and me calling him a “repressed hoarder.” I can’t deny his accusation since I believe emotions are self-illuminating cues to what both drives us as well as areas for attention and self-betterment.
*NOTE: I saw Andy on June 1, 2008 at the Government Leadership Summit and took the opportunity to ‘lightly’ antagonize him for not using Twitter. Three days later, @amcafee arrives. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
My ongoing debate over the use and value of Twitter with my Twitter antagonist led me to examine my own usage and re-evaluate the value of Twitter. What were the costs versus the benefits to both me and my followers for my participation in Twitter? I decided the best way for me to answer this was to step off of the Twitter playing field for a week and take a “carrot and stick” approach to break my addictive behavior. I, the competitive being that I am, conceived a wager in which the reward would provide me something I infinitely desire – insight into people, and in this case, a person.
For one week I would refrain from using Twitter, Facebook, and Blip (my three most favorite online community applications ) in exchange for one day of Andrew McAfee departing from his usual perfuctory, minimum participation in Twitter. The product was a wager built collaboratively and transparently in a Google Doc:
Today is my final day of silence. I have kept a journal throughout the week which I will be publishing, including insights I have gained. I can say regardless of whether or not Andy ends up executing the terms of his side of the wager, the value has been in the journey, not the destination.
[photo – eldh (black/white twitter)]