Is twitter addictive?

This is the third post about twitter,I am becoming obsessed! I intend to write at least 2 more (“Is Twitter a threat to democracy” and “Twitter and personality types”, quite ambitious, I know, but I like challenges!), and it’s been 10 days since I last wrote a post….

So, the obvious answer from my experience is POSITIVE!

Yes, yes and yes, Twitter is potentially addictive.

You will be irresistibly tempted to follow more people (“tweeps”), to write more “tweets”, to spend more time “twitting”…

More and more, you will always want more .Or quit (like 60 % do before one month)

Why is Twitter like a slot machine?

Slot machine

Someone like Kathy Sierra, author of Creating passionate Users, already stressed that as early as 2 years ago:Twitter is a near perfect example of the psychological principle of intermittent variable reward”, the key addictive element of slot machines.

“One of Skinner’s most important discoveries is that behavior reinforced intermittently( as opposed to consistently) is the most difficult to extinguish. In other words, intermittent rewards beat predictable rewards. It’s the basis of most animal training, but applies to human as well…which is why slot machines are so appealing, and one needn’t be addicted to feel it”.

Kathy Sierra , quoting a TIME magazine feature story on multitasking, Patricia Wallace, a techno-psychologist, …believes part of the allure of e-mail, for adults as well as teens,is similar to that of a slot machine. “You have intermittent, variable reinforcement”, she explains. ” You are not sure you are going to get a reward everytime or how often you will, so you keep pulling that handle.

I have never been attracted to slot machines, but I’d better not try one of them, since this last two or three weeks experience of Twitter has driven me to spend each day more and more time, with more and more intensity and expectations…

Clearly, it has been replacing my blog activity and it’s the first thing I check in the morning, before my e-mails, before listening to any radio station, …to any human being as well!

Why humans crave for social interraction? The illusion of “connectedness”

in Naked Capitalism, I found a more recent article called “Twitter, Communication , and my Intermittent Inner Luddite” (refering to Georges Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and deficit in communication)

In this post, Yves Smith argues that we humans, being a social species, with very big limbic brains and smaller cerebral cortexes,we have a strong drive to create social interactions.Twitter is supposed to nurture this strong urge for connectedness, but the problem is that we can “trick our brain into thinking its having a meaningful interaction, while another (ancient) part of the brain “knows” something crucial to human survival is missing” (here, I am quoting Kathy Sierra).

For Yves Smith :“Twitter feeds that addiction, that false sense of urgency . Most things can wait. Indeed, a lot of things are better off waiting. But we are encouraged to be plugged in, overstimulated all the time, at the expense of higher quality human relations”.

What do I think about it? Well, if I still have a small part of my brain left to rationalize, I would say that Twitter represents the dangerous addiction of any given pleasure.

Chocolate Chocolate is mine, what is yours?

Just like reading your favorite author, watching the latest movie, playing an exciting new tennis game,…eating your favorite raspberry ice cream, or drinking the most delicious Gigondas…

We are just not aware of it, since it’s all new, attractive, free and looks like a very innocent social game.

So, how could we develop another “attitude”?

Twitter “AWARENESS”, depending on your profile…

It’s a matter of knowing yourself, choosing the right balance between abstinence and greed.

Asking yourself:

1) Why do I want to tweet? What am I looking for?

2) Who do I want to tweet with?

3) How long do I want to spend at the Twitter Agora?

..might prevent you from becoming “twittaddict” .

I may (or may not if I get caught into some interesting twitter intellectual joute) develop this idea in another post coming soon: Twitter and different personality Types.

You may Tweet this article, of course!

And join me for more discussions on Twitter!