The great #twitterbreak


I am a huge advocate of Twitter, I admit it without shame. At first I didn’t really get it because I thought it was just a standalone status broadcaster, kind of like facebook but without the risk of friends and family members tagging awful photos of you. After finding Plurk I even declared that Twitter was dead to me and that I was going to have babies that resembled chubby Gantt charts (ok I didn’t say that, but I may have thought it at the time).

So, cough, that was a bit premature. I found out that the strength of Twitter is in the people you follow and interact with. You could probably say that about all social media, but Twitter is different in that you’re not bound by the interface on because they’ve released the API – which can be used in so many different and amazing ways. The most significant being desktop and phone apps like Twhirl, TweetDeck, Tweetie, Twitterrific and my favourite, DestroyTwitter.

Through these clients you can take Twitter everywhere, and as a result you can take your followers everywhere too. I’m never alone on the bus, because I can sign in to and tell people about the songs the bus driver is singing, or I can muffle giggles as my friends have ridiculous conversations. I think that Twitter clients have really encouraged people to use Twitter as a platform for life casting, and instead of being a site you visit once a day to catch up on activity… you find yourself running your Twitter client in the background all day and night just so you don’t miss out on anything. It’s really not a medium that lends itself to “catching up” on because of the sheer volume of tweets, as well as the reluctance of the site and client designers to institute any real threading for tracking conversations. I like it that way – it’s like a conversation you have with your IRL friends, and if you enter the conversation late you’ve already missed the momentum and excitement of the moment.

Photo by Nic Suzor

Of course, if you live in Brisbane you get the opportunity to turn your URL friends (that’d be your online friends) to IRL friends through BTUB meetups. Brisbane’s Twitter community is very active and very friendly, and meetups in the vein of Sydney’s STUBs and Melbourne’s MTUBs were adopted last year and very quickly became a date claimed every month on most Brisbane Twitter users’ calendars. I never expected to meet so many fantastic people, or to become so close to them!

This is where Twitter gets really interesting. Instead of having that distance between the URL and the IRL, strong relationships and affiliations start to come together quickly. Where I would have had no problem mouthing off at someone for saying something ignorant or whateverphobic and walking away, I found I really needed to start considering the impact of my reprimands and how it could affect the tight knit social group. The people on the other end aren’t faceless anymore, they’re friends and acquaintances. I also have started wondering if I see the networking platform as strictly professional, social, casual or a curious and awkward mixture of all of the above.

So, I’ve decided to take a few days break to see how I can reflect on this. Whether I like it or not, I am developing a persona online. You are too – whether you put your name on your interactions or if you use a nom de plume. Like most people, I have flaws and foibles but on platforms like this blog… I tend to gloss over them a bit. It’s not that I want to appear as if perfect or completely palatable by any means, but opening up your personality and life to complete strangers and new acquaintances is a big deal and I feel like I’m opening myself up to things that both scare and enthrall me. It’s not just “the internet” anymore, Toto!

Do I need a personal branding strategy, or should I just fly by the seat of my pants? Will I be able to make it until the end of the week without broadcasting the minutiae of my days? Can I stand not being able to commiserate with and/or congratulate the people I have come to care about as they talk about the things they encounter in their lives?

I’ll keep you posted.


  1. this is a great really interesting post.

    I am really tired at the moment and don’t really have the energy to send you over a big reply, but I just wanted to mention that I read this and I enjoyed reading it.

    And you raise some SUPER interesting points.

    I say that to my boyfriend. when “alone” in public people always usually go straight for their phones. I used to check my phone and be sad if I had no new messages.

    Now I always have someone saying something to me somewhere.

    Enjoy the break. WE will miss you xx

  2. Personal branding strategies are boring unless you a lawyer or doctor or something like that. Unless your strategy is to be yourself and never try to cover up who you are.
    If you do it’s all fake and a hard act to keep up for very long.

    Good luck with the break! I know I need the outlet because my real life people don’t understand my version of the world most of the time. (that version of the world being internet based)

  3. Yes – I read something someone posted about how all these internet things like email and twitter and facebook just fuel our desire to be talked to! It’s completely true :D

    My break was totally ruined by an auto tweet from Petition Spot, GRR! But I’m going to stick it out until Friday and ponder on my reflections whilst scratching my beard!

  4. My strategy right now is just to be ALL RIDICULOUS, ALL THE TIME. I don’t take many things seriously, and the only things I really have an agenda about are body acceptance, atheism and drawing until I break my fingers!

    I know what you mean about the outlet though… the internet is the best text based adventure in the universe! I’m lucky I also have a tumblr, facebook, lj… etc etc etc :P

  5. Oh hai Natalie. Nice post. :) Cliche much? In all seriousnessness, I agree: the ultimate twitter experience for me is that I get to meet super awesome creative people such as yourself.

    PS just how many chins do I have in that photo? Urgh.

  6. I miss you on Twitter already. It’s just less fancy without you there.

    I guess the whole “branding” thing depends on what you want to do with Twitter. For some people it’s vital that they have their game face on, because they’re either running a business or promoting themselves professionally etc.

    For others (like myself) it is a social thing for me and I yam who I yam. I’m learning that I don’t have to like everyone I encounter, and that they don’t have to like me, and that I only feel “right” when I am true to myself.

    However if I were job seeking or promoting myself professionally in any way, I think I would approach it differently.

  7. Back again. I was going to write to you on twitter but then remembered I couldn’t.

    Just saw the OBB post about your Fat Bride Survival Guide. And as I was reading I thought hey, that sounds and looks like Natalie, and wait, that’s her husband! So I clicked through, and it was you.
    And then I looked at your wedding on OBB, it was posted there before I was reading Definatalie, but as soon as I saw the croquet mallets I thought, this is the dog poo wedding!!

    lol. Too awesome.

  8. Wow it’s you! I’m sorry this is not related to this blog entry but I wasn’t sure where else to say hey. I don’t know if you remember me and I can’t even remember how I met you?! It must have been back in 2001/02? Ohh possibly it was through the BME ezine? Yes, that’s kind of ringing bells. I do remember the one and only time we formally met I drunkenly accosted you from your table of friends outside RICS one night to harass you with questions about your back tattoo. haha Wow, seems like so long ago. Anyway Natalie, just wanted to say hi and just ignore me if I’m ranting like a crazed stranger. I was also extremely in love with your art and design work and you have totally outdone yourself and will no doubt continue to do so till you die. Congrats on being married as well! x

  9. woman, great post. im not super articulate and nearly always post rubbish in the end but FANCY GIRL I WILL MISS YOU and welcome back you to twitter anytime.?

  10. I have these social media crises every few months or so where I feel like I’ve let it get too unruly and impossible to maintain and just want to ignore it all.

    I think the last time I did this I unwisely unfollowed huge chunks of my follow list at random on Twitter and rebuilt from scratch. I say unwisely because there were a few people who felt slighted by this and I can’t blame them, but I apologise and remind them that it was indescriminate and I’m overjoyed they cared enough to be pissed at me.

    But it now stands as a lesson learnt and in the end it did help me out at the time.

    My personal branding strategy is that I’m just me, it’s too hard to be someone else and so I try and just be me and let others make up their mind, that’s not to say that I don’t bite my tongue or stick my foot in it but in society that’s what you do!

    I too have found some amazing friends on Twitter!

    I guess my unsolicited advice is you should just go on doing your thing and being who you are and if a twitter break helps then great but don’t come back as anyone but you.

  11. I do remember you!! I was just thinking about before and remembering how I had to leave the site quite abruptly after the whole paid access thing came in. I’m glad you’ve found me!

    I saw your blog and that you’ve got a kid and you’ve got twins on the way, how crazy! We’re all grown up now :D

  12. It can get so overwhelming, especially when you feel like you’re obligated to follow or respond or even just be active all the time! I think we should all respect each other’s right to chill out from time to time :D

    I think I wanted to take a break just to step back and think about why I have the compulsion to use twitter all the time. I’ve realised it’s because of all the people and the instant gratification :D

  13. I left when the paid access came in as well. They were poor and desperate times back then. hehe Yes, I have children galore! But no more, noooooooo more after these two I say!! Ciao for now x

  14. My #twitterbreak lasted approximately two days, and I had to break my “fast” because I simply couldn’t remain mute any longer. People who aren’t Twitter-savvy yammer on about how it’s just a bunch of self absorbed people blagging on about what they at

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