The Twitter Effect

 

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As I sat at home on New Year’s Eve, run down by yet another cold/flu, exhausted from being awake all night coughing, and completely disinterested in food, I gave some thought to social media, eating habits, and in general, how social media makes keeping up with the Joneses a 24 hour, real-time concern.

As a marketer, social media is a big part of my work. Over the course of the past three years, I have started to spend about 50% of my work days writing social media content, working on strategies, managing communities, or reporting on analytics.

In addition to that, as you know, I keep up this blog, Twitter, Facebook (not so well), and now Pinterest (obsessed). Truthfully, unless I am in a meeting, on a call, or out and about, rarely a waking hour passes that I don’t check to see if I have any mentions, comments, or pins. Addicted? Perhaps. But I feel often that my professional life is so ingrained in my personal that it’s hard to step away, and heaven forbid I miss something! I do love social media marketing, but I guess there’s a line to be drawn.

My original New Year’s Eve plan was to cook a grand meal, paired with Champagne and one of my birth year wines. As I frumpily sat on the couch feeling miserable and unable to cook, I followed my Twitter stream, reading all of the fabulous things people were doing, making, eating. And it made me feel a million times worse.

Has this ever happened to you?

I’ve thought about it often; reading constant updates of people doing fun and exciting things puts a little bit of pressure on a girl. Because, in the olden days, if you knew a friend was going on vacation or to an amazing meal, you’d just be happy for her and want to hear all about it. Now? You have thousands of “friends”, so it seems like everyone is always doing something amazing.

Why am I sitting on the couch eating cereal for dinner when my tweeps are all feasting  at the newest restaurant, traveling, or running a most epic long run? Or having an amazing work day when mine has been just average?

Where previously, this pressure might have come in the form a TV show or magazine spread, now it’s people you “know”. All the time.  At any given time of day, someone in your feed is doing something cool, and you should be too. When you’re sick and can’t do pretty much anything, suddenly there’s nothing to say (probably means a good time to unplug). If you let it be, it’s always there.

I know that I open more wine because of what people are sipping on Twitter and because of my desire to find work in the wine industry than I would if I was sitting at home without my Blackberry glued to my hand. And I am certain I would be eating many more salads for dinner if I wasn’t so worried about interesting, blog-able food.

Maybe if I fill my feeds with more runners and health bloggers, I’ll feel some peer pressure to exercise more? Probably not, with social media, like most other things, it’s pretty easy to turn your attention to the things you want to be doing.

Do you think, to a certain extent, the rabid takeover of social media platforms has us living our lives a little less authentically and a little more for Twitter/Foursquare/Facebook/blog fodder?

Or is it just me?

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  1. David Crowley’s avatar

    Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well on New Year’s, hope you are doing better! I can understand where you are coming from–things like #winewednesday might make me more inclined to open an interesting bottle mid-week than I usually would! But I’ve also seen how the community that is formed online can support one’s goals. For instance, a group of us last summer focused on “eating local” tweeted with #eatlocalwob to connect around what we were doing with summer’s bounty.

    Reply

    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I totally agree that the community can help with goals and other positive things. I have made many close friends over my years of blogging, “meeting” many of them first through Twitter or blog comments! I guess it’s just the comparison factor, and the extent we start to think that we need to constantly keep up. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply

    2. Kelly’s avatar

      Great post and I completely, completely agree with it. I was just talking to some friends from work about this. I definitely can get sucked into the everyone is having fun and I’m not cycle and I think it’s really important to always remember that people chose what they are going to say/put out in social media and no one can be having a great day all the time and people are probably often more private about hard days/situations. Interestingly, I had the opposite experience from you on New Years. I was in Miami and as we were coming home from dinner and settling in to watch fireworks on my parents balcony, many people in my hotel were dressed up and heading out for a big night. I started to think, oh man- am I crazy? should I be dressing up and heading to a bar instead of putting on my pajamas? But then when I started to check twitter, I realized that most of my “friends” were having a quiet night in and some people weren’t even staying up til 12 because they had big runs in the morning or young children or just didn’t really care :) This actually made me feel better haha. However, I probably follow very different people than you since Twitter for me is 100% personal.

      I’ve also had the experience where I do go out and do something just so I can blog about it, and it ends up being so awesome and I am glad I didn’t sit on my bum instead of doing it. So I guess, in the end, social media has it’s ups and downs but I do think it’s important to be aware of the effects it has on us.

      Reply

      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Thanks, Kelly! I do agree that I have taken advantage of some awesome opportunities because I want to blog about them. It has gotten me out of my house a lot more and helped me to meet so many people in Boston and around the US I never would have met otherwise.

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      2. Megan’s avatar

        I sometimes feel pressure to go out to eat more or cook more fabulous things because I worry that people will get bored if I just post salads on my blog. But it’s my mission to eat healthier this year, so hopefully people will like the healthy meals I post in addition to the fabulous desserts. I also want to spend much less on groceries so that will take a toll on which recipes I end up making and sharing too. I need to be a little more me-focused and care a little less about what everyone else wants.

        But as Kelly mentions above there are also great things about the pressure too. There are certain events I’ve almost passed up only to be thrilled that I actually went.

        Reply

      3. Samantha’s avatar

        Great post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this in recent months, and doing some (light) reading on the topic – Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. Also great article in the NYTimes yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

        Anyway, I haven’t drawn any conclusions from all this, but am very interested to see how social media (or the way in which we interact with it) changes in the next few years.

        Reply

      4. Shani’s avatar

        It’s not just you. If we are all living lives on display in this age of social media, there’s very little middle ground between “I did this” and “I did this and it was AWESOME and you should do it too!” or even “I did this and what’s wrong with you that you’re not doing this too?”

        Reply

      5. Michelle’s avatar

        I think we all feel the same “pressure” from social media, especially if you’re already active in blogging or tweeting. I’ve learned that some moments are meant for just enjoying – no laptop, iPhone or iPad to distract me from what is going on in that moment.

        Hope you feel better soon!

        Reply

      6. Alaina’s avatar

        So, so true! I sometimes think my life is quite boring since I’m not always rambling about my goings-on on Twitter. But when I do get out and about, I have a great time and love writing about it. But I try not to feel the pressure to ALWAYS be doing something, every single night.

        Hope you feel better! Looking forward to our Salty Pig outing! :-P

        Reply

      7. Daisy’s avatar

        Great post!! It really got me thinking about what stares me in the face on a daily basis in a deeper way. Social media is such a HUGE part of my everyday life. I don’t think I put serious pressure on myself to eat, drink, or do a certain thing, at least, not in an overwhelming way. sometimes the pressure might be a fleeting moment, but in general I’m pretty content if I’m having an average day and someone else is kicking ass and doing something cooler than me ;)

        Reply

      8. Michelle Collins’s avatar

        I definitely feel obligated to tweet, Facebook, etc. a certain amount of times per day/week, even when I don’t feel like it. There have also been nights that I don’t want to make dinner or open a bottle of beer, but I see people on Twitter talking about their meals/what they’re drinking – and then I get inspired! It kind of depends on the day and my mood…because there are other nights I just don’t have the desire to be on the computer. ;)

        Reply

      9. melissanibbles’s avatar

        Oh, I definitely agree with this and it’s the reason why I don’t read many health blogs anymore. I don’t think most of them set a good example and would find myself feeling bad about my exercise habits, thinking I didn’t exercise enough. For me, keeping my Facebook separate from my blog has helped. I’m only friends on Facebook with a few bloggers and I don’t talk about my blog and try not to get into blog discussions on Facebook. I don’t feel pressure to eat food, go to restaurants or anything like that, but that’s probably because I’m lazy and old.

        Reply

      10. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

        Really interesting post! I’ve never quite thought about it as a keeping up with the Joneses but you’re totally right! As with most positive things, there are definitely downsides to social media. I often just have to step back and keep in mind what I need – and sometimes that involves staying home from blogger events or making a simple dinner. Certainly easier said than done!

        Reply

      11. Di’s avatar

        Social media has totally changed things. There are times when I’m going out and I wonder if I should bring my camera, because maybe I’ll see something that catches my eye. Then I can take a picture and it will be something interesting to blog about. Or I need to make sure to take a picture of what I’m drinking or eating or whatever and upload it to Facebook or Twitter…because other people are always doing it. It’s definitely a lot like keeping up with the Joneses, I think.

        Lately I’ve realized that while I should bring my camera with me, I should also live my life, take pictures of things that catch my eye, and not necessarily feel the need to blog/Tweet/Facebook about it.

        Reply

      12. Ranjani’s avatar

        Really interesting post. I’ve recently been having a lot of trouble allowing myself to rest and relax, and this could be a part of the reason. It’s easy to compare myself to everyone else who seems to be doing fabulous productive things all day long

        Reply

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