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.