March 10th, 2009

Does Twitter make you feel better about yourself?

Listening to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! the other day (yes, I’m an NPR podcast dork, and I’m proud), I came across this study out of Taiwan that discusses how blogging — even if what you’re blogging about how much life sucks — can make you happy. The researchers attribute this to a greater sense of community and connectedness to others online. While I’m sure that’s part of the equation, I can’t help but think there’s something therapeutic about the act of blogging itself: the kind of response that made keeping a diary appealing before we all got too impatient to write things out by hand.

Let’s extend this argument to Twitter. Twitter, as a microblogging platform, allows us short bursts of that same blogging high. For some that seems to be the “Hey, I’m talking to other people!” moment. For me it’s the “I actually have a clear idea of what I’m doing!” moment. Either way, I’d argue that the feeling is addictive. Twitter often (i.e. develop a taste for it) and you’ll find it’s hard to stop. In that way, Twittering is a bit like smoking. Instead of sticking my head out a window and burning through a cigarette every few hours, I start to get antsy when I haven’t Twittered. Then I do it, I feel calmer and more centered, and I can go back to work.

The question then: is the soothing effect we get from blogging and Twittering constructive or destructive? It follows the model of addiction, so we’re probably thinking: bad. The more you do it, the more you get hooked. Still, blogging and Twittering lack that other pillar of addiction, namely feeling bad about it after you do it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never woken up from a night of binge posting with a pounding headache and a feeling of shame.

Maybe Twitter is exactly the kind of emotional addiction we need right now. Our means of communication have become more and more removed; instead of social circles we have Facebook friends lists. You know the speech. Is it so wrong if we fill the void with little jolts of blogging, with reminders that we’re still goofy, corporeal beings with silly things to say (one of my recent Tweets: “Last night: watched biologists dissect bird skulls while sipping rum and Diet Coke”) and friends to say them to?

Tags: Blog

7 Responses to “The emotional addiction of Twitter”

  1. Alice Keenan Says:

    I tweeted!
    http://twitter.com/AliceKeenan

  2. Garrett Says:

    I do totally agree that microblogging is a great way to blow off steam, knowing that someone is going to see it, probably someone that cares about you. That is a great thing because then you arent bearing the burden yourself. Another Twitter feature we should use a lot is the reply feature. I dont have to have something awesome to say in reply to a friend. A simple “got it”, “thanks”, “man that sucks Im praying for you” could go a long way to boost someone’s day. I dont know if I would follow you all the way to the addiction though. What happens if you cant get to your Twitter account or if Twitter goes down for a few days? Now you have become reliant on something that cannot over the long haul supply the needs that you have. One of my friends says this is like trusting a dysfunctional savior to take you to what you think will be heaven…but only turns out to be a dysfunctional heaven because you were trusting in a dysfunctional savior. What do you think?

  3. Emotions and Addiction | The Hip Opinion Says:

    […] I know I’m addicted to everything from red stripe beer to ice cream… I gotta have more of everything and less of nothing… Constant stimulation is the order of the day… If not, them I’m sleeping… Let the good times roll! If their ain’t no fun. I’m outta here. Now Tweet it! […]

  4. Hip Opinion Says:

    Heck you talked me into it… I’m gonna follow you!

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