My Addiction

I have been reflecting a great deal lately and am finally ready to recognize I have a problem. I am hoping my PLN will be able to help me move through the process of recovering from my addiction. Unlike, most “step” programs, the intent of this process will not be to eradicate my addiction completely, but to get it under control.

Yes, there are other things at play, but twitter appears to by my gateway drug of choice. It is through twitter that I am up late at night reading blogs, commenting on blogs, lurking in online conferences, watching Ted Talks, among other shady online activities. When originally writing this post, I was going to mimic a twelve step process but thought better of it. I didn’t want to devalue the process of “real” addicts, and wanted to get straight to the point.

Over the past 6 months I have been on twitter building a PLN, of which I am extremely grateful for. However, I have not been very good at policing myself and for lack of a better term, I am addicted. I am staying up late reading blogs, retweeting, and constantly with my computer or phone in my hand. As with any good addict, I really didn’t even notice how bad it was. I was content and felt more connected and in tune with education in a universal sense than ever before in my life. My borders were widened and I gained more perspective in those 6 months that many years of formal education and teaching experience.

So, what’s the problem? Well, I am losing time that I was spending on other things. I am not heading out for my nightly runs as often. I am sending tweets from the dinner table. I am constantly looking at my phone to see if someone tweeted while I was in the bathroom…and in some cases bringing my phone into the bathroom. I am not playing as many video games. My two year old started asking me, “are you tweeting?” In conclusion, my priorities have shifted and I am not comfortable with it.

How did it get this way? Well, it was easy. I started very slowly at first and then it picked up speed. People started reading my tweets, retweeting them and then following me. In no time, I was deeply engaged in numerous weekly chats and loving every minute of it. I had created a “persona” that I worked hard to create and therefore wanted to keep up. People were following me, or so I think, to read what I was reading and tweeting. Many of us dedicate a great deal of time to connect ourselves because like a good video game, you need to build up experience points to get the street credit. It is that street credit that allows you to more fully engage in the conversations and create a powerful PLN. Let’s be honest, you have to put yourself out there if you really want to connect and get the most out of the twitter experience. I would be lying if I wasn’t looking at my list of followers growing with a sense of satisfaction. In addition, I got a good feeling when people replied to me or “retweeted” me. Is that wrong? I would be willing to believe I am not the only one out there…just the only one willing to admit it.

With all this in mind, I am taking a step back. I will still be there, but not as often. I need to restore balance and reassess my priorities. I will continue to blog about my learning and my evolution as a teacher. You will still see me in the occasional #chats throughout the weeks. I still hold the power of twitter and social media in the highest regard as a form of professional development and a collaborative space. However, I plan on focusing more on the truly important things in my life which includes my family, my students, and me.

The beauty of twitter and my PLN is that like a 24/7 buffet, they will always be there when I need them…without the heartburn.


@GwynethJones - The Daring Librarian said...

It's a wonderful thing with the Twitters you that can dip your toe into the river of conversation or you can jump in cannonball style! Either way, the river is always flowing & you are a new wonderful ripple in my beloved PLN. I often go "offline" for relaxation's sake - and unlike FB somehow with the Twitters I never feel any guilt! Cheers!
The Daring Librarian

Erin said...

I was nodding my head while reading this post, especially the part about continually checking my phone for updates. I've had this conversation too with other teachers in my district. Essentially, it's as importance to model balance and moderation as it is to model tech savviness and connectivity. Thanks for sharing this.

Dave Meister said...


I am with you. I am spending more time running, golfing, working with my children, and relaxing. Most of what I want to blog about is being said by others. The hyper-connectedness is not productive. Checking several times a day, while on hold on the phone or waiting for an appointment, gives me the information that I need. Don't get me wrong, this space has some wonderful opportunities to expand educational thinking, but you are right, balance is important.

Anonymous said...

Props to you for your courage and honesty! I find myself in a similar position and am trying to find more balance for myself, my family my students and my PLN. Thank you for the reminder. You are once again being a wonderful role model! Thanks for being you!

Anonymous said...

It was as if I was writing this post and as you are discovering balance is the key. Learning to step away is sometimes hard but so necessary because you begin loosing the best of yourself.
Thanks for sharing and enjoy!

Aimee said...

I found myself nodding in agreement with several statements in your post. Thanks for the reminder - balance is a good thing.

Plants seeds of knowledge...for our future! said...

I am going through the same thing! I too have realized that it was becoming to encompassing and it was time to re-evaluate and reset my priorities! Like you said the beauty of online PLN it will still be there! Good for you! I am glad that you too have realized that our lives outside of the education realm are important too!

Shane said...

I am right brained. Extremely right brained, left handed and all. Organizing time is one of my great perils, next to paperwork. searching for a solution I found this ebook Time Management for Creative People – Free E-book
The focus is creating time to be creative but the organizational practices sound perfect for your particular addiction. Best of luck.

Michelle Luhtala said...

Great post, Josh! I...wait...get this ... emailed (sacrilege, right?) Shannon Miller this week, "I've been out of the Twitter loop for days, just trying to catch up in F2F world - feel like I am missing a really cool party! :-(" You are not alone in this struggle.
Have fun reconnecting IRL!

Katie Bordner said...

I think many of us feel this, what would personally be valuable to me, however, would be if you post about your plan/progress in maintaining balance.

Anonymous said...

There is no greater quality than honesty - especially to the whole world.

Katie Hellerman said...

Feel the exact same way. (even the part about the bathroom) I think twitter can be a dangerous tool for a curious person. It's like a bottomless pool of interesting and relevant material.
I haven't gotten to the part yet about admitting it's a problem, but I feel it coming soon. I'm interested to see how you achieve your balance.

Lyn Hilt said...

Thanks for your brave, honest post. I think many of us have felt this way. May you find the balance you seek. I think all of us are here, in some way, in varying degrees, all of the time. That's the beauty of it- once connected, you're connected. You can take breaks and when you return, someone will be around to say hello. :)

Payton Hobbs said...

Thank you for your post! I needed this reminder and reassurance that it is alright to step away. My husband has been making comments about my constant need to be checking my computer or iPhone, and I guess I didn't realize how bad it was getting. I felt like I had to stay connected in order to be the very best educator as possible. What I am finding is that the more I am connected online, the less connected I am to the people who are actually right there beside me. Finding the balance is key!

Thank you.,

Brad said...

I also struggle with the PLN in that I see how great others are and how far I am from them and what they are doing!

I have not learned how to deal with the "gap". I often wonder if anyone else feels this way.

Ashley and Korey said...

I must say - I have JUST stumbled upon your blog and I am beyond excited! I've been looking for a blog to follow re:teaching for the last year and cannot get enough of your writing!! :o) Hopefully you'll keep up the blogging regularly!! Whoo hoo! -- Ashley

Alfonso Gonzalez said...

Yes, yes, yes! I really appreciate how you, Josh, and those commenting are pointing out that Twitter and our PLN are always flowing and will always be there. We can take time for ourselves and our families and our students. When we come back to Twitter our PLN will still be there! I need to remind myself of that. :)