I'm not big on the whole 'family position' branch of psychology, but if you buy into it, my position as the youngest kid might help explain my obsessive desire for ATTENTION! That's probably why I love twitter so much.
If I've got something funny (or even just mildly funny, or just stupid) to say, and I send it to a friend on a text message, they probably won't message me back right away. People are busy, and we're always in the middle of something else. But when you post it on Twitter, anyone who's NOT doing anything might respond to it right away.
You poke the bear. It pokes you back. You poke the bear. It pokes you back. It's called positive reinforcement. You get a good response when you do a certain behaviour, so it solidifies that behaviour in your mind.
Who knows? Maybe I even got kinda good at it. People interact with me regularly, and are entertained enough to retweet or favourite or respond.
But then something happened. How do I explain it?
Many (maybe most) of my twitter interactions are with women. Call it a demographic thing (are there more of a specific gender on twitter?), or maybe it was an unintentional consequence of the way I tweet and interact.
Add to that the fact that I have a tendency to disengage if I get stressed out. Guess what it looks like:
If I have a stressful day, I check out and go interact/joke with a bunch of lovely women on Twitter. I'm not saying that's what was happening. I'm saying that's what it LOOKED LIKE.
And you know what? In a relationship, we need to feel SAFE to have a bad day. You shouldn't have to feel like your spouse is having all their fun without you involved. It feels like you're getting phased out.
See, Twitter is this funny thing. In my last blog post I wrote about our underlying motivations. I don't know why the person I'm interacting with is on Twitter. Or why they're interacting with me. Twitter is half real and half fake. And that makes it more dangerous than if it was all one or all the other. Because my 'persona' interacts with someone else's. And maybe it comes off as flirtatious, or maybe it's just really...nice. But the person behind that other persona may be in a lonely place. And maybe the interaction with me is fulfilling a need that they should really be getting filled in real life, by the people in front of them who they're ignoring. This isn't the case for everyone, of course. The point is, I can't tell when it IS the case.
But here's what I know: When I discover that I've been doing something that goes against some of my most important principles: loving my wife and making her feel cherished, and being PRESENT for my family, things are going to start to change. And I don't want to be a stumbling block for anyone else either.
There's no person or group of people I blame for this other than myself. It's just a shift I saw happen as I shifted my account from a professional one to a personal one. And I wish I could be a model of self restraint and phase out the negative behaviour, but I've tried that for a while. And I know my limitations. And self restraint? Yeah....
I realize that I'm doing this at a great cost. Every day I see ways that Twitter could add value - DM'ing my coffee order to @CoolBeansBus, putting out a request for volunteers for a non-profit work bee, or posting a really uplifting story are all examples from the last day alone of all the value that I'll be leaving behind. Call me a fool, but there's nothing I would not leave behind for the sake of the most important relationships in my life.
So, you still know how to reach me. I still work where I work. I still blog. I'm still on Facebook (less addicting/appealing). And you can DM me or comment below if you want contact information - I'll be happy to stay in contact if we established working relationships on twitter.
And maybe one day I'll be back again. And maybe not. For now, I need to find healthier ways to get the attention I crave, and stop trying to make myself a celebrity one follower at a time.