I base a lot of my value in the librarian career field as being young and tech-savvy. As such, I work hard to stay on the cutting edge not only of new technology, but also emerging Web 2.0 and social networking.
To this end, about a month ago I decided I should develop a professional presence on Twitter. I would tweet insightfully about everything library-related! I would follow libraries, librarians, library organizations, publishers, writers, etc… and thereby stay well-informed. It would be Wolfy the Librarian 4.0! Twitter would be my new networking tour de force.
This lasted for about a week. The second week I found myself incapable of restricting my tweets (the mini-updates) to just career-related sentiments. Subtle “my life” tweets started being mixed in. Things like “Mmm, chai tea for breakfast.” These started to change more to “my mood” tweets, such as “Why do I always mess everything up.” Ok, so not the most professional, but it was helping me maintain a personal contact with librarian friends.
When I became concerned about my twittering habit, though, was on a weekend day. I was doing one of my more well-loved activities (food-shopping and cooking), when I found myself thinking about how I would wittily tweet about the cooking I had yet to do. I was even automatically checking to see if it would be short enough. My inner dialogue had turned into a series of 140 character witticisms!
Realization of this hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat down. I thought about it. I realized that Twitter had become a stressor in my life. One more thing to think about. One more place in the world where I needed to maintain the mask, the facade. I have enough stressors in my life, which won’t be detailed here. My stress threshhold therefore is easily crossed. Twitter was keeping my stress stasis at a much higher level, closer to the stress threshhold. Not only that, but since when do I, the perpetual philosophizer and writer, enforce myself to think in 140 characters?
I thought back fondly to my blog, which I haven’t made entries in for multiple reasons the past couple of months. I was never limited as to how long I could take to say something. I could take the time to think it through as I wrote. I could go back and edit if I changed my mind about something. I had allowed blogging to become a stressor by only ever writing about things that pissed me off, but it didn’t have to be that way. It can simply be a place where I can express my thoughts when I feel the desire to say something.
Further, recently, Twitter is increasingly being viewed as a marketing place. Companies find new customers on Twitter. So what about me? I’m not a company, yet I truly was trying to use Twitter to market myself. Market myself. It sends chills down my spine. I am not an object; I am a person, but here I am devoting copious amounts of my time to marketing myself like an object. On the other hand, that’s what networking is, and my career is valuable to me.
So here I am saying that I don’t know what to do about Twitter. It was indeed impressing others in my career that I had a firm presence on Twitter. I was even re-tweeted by a well-known professional organization. Yet it was hurting me and my life. Who I am and how I interact with people in the real world. Should I trust myself to retry twittering only as a librarian in my 9 to 5 world? Or do I need to abandon it entirely?
Honestly, I know myself and my addictive personality. For my own sanity, I need to abandon Twitter entirely. Yet it bothers me that I can’t do what I should do for my career and still be the person I want to be.