Last week, Hugh MacLead of Gaping Void (his cartoon above) announced that he was leaving the micro-blogging platform Twitter because he found it was distracting him from what he really wanted to be doing: writing books and drawing cartoons.

Rex Hammock responded with a sensible post calling for moderation:

I like Twitter and have written on this blog about how I believe it can serve many positive purposes. But yes, it can be a time-waste. That’s why I try to keep my Twittering in the background and turned off while working. I’ve found the program Twirhl, a desktop Twitter (and other services) client is helping me filter out lots of Twitter noise and have a better framework and context for the use of Twitter.

This struck a chord with me, as I am finding my current Twitter use unsustainable and have more or less abandoned the tool over the last week.

I find Twitter most useful when I read most of the updates of the people I am following. That way, you truly get to know the people you are following and can participate in the conversation that is taking place on Twitter. If I don’t read most of the updates, I find Twitter disorienting – it is like picking up a book and trying to read it backwards.

I’m currently following around a hundred people, and I would guess that I would have to be on Twitter an hour a day cumulatively to truly keep track. I’m not willing to make that kind of time investment. Given that, I’m left with a few choices:

  1. Abandon Twitter altogether like Hugh.
  2. Trim my list of people I’m following to a more manageable level.
  3. Abandon the conversation aspect of Twitter and use it as a glorified listserv, a la Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Seth Godin. Basically stop listening, or drop in and out of the conversation at best.

I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. I suspect other people are facing the same dilemma, as with many Twitter users you see periodic fits of activity followed by long periods of silence. I would guess these people are like me – they stop seeing the value because they don’t have time to follow the conversation.

Note: I just read an anecdote that pretty well sums up the Twitter time dilemma. Blogger Ryan Kruder recently called out Seth Godin for using Twitter as a one way communication vehicle (Godin never participates in conversations on Twitter and nearly all his posts are automatically imported via Twitterfeed). Godin responds:

If I twit, and do it well, as Garret seems to say, then what shall I give up? I already don’t sleep or comb my hair…

That pretty well sums up how I feel about Twitter right now.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.