The other day I was an extra on The IT Crowd (thanks to Twitter - @ITCrowdSupport) – yes the fabulously funny Channel 4 sitcom written by Graham Linehan (@Glinner) of Father Ted and Black Books fame which stars Richard Ayoade as Moss, Chris O’Dowd (@BigBoyler) as Roy and Katherine Parkinson as Jen.
If you’ve ever spent time on a TV or film set you will know that the vast majority of the day is spent waiting around, mostly in silence, followed by short periods of manic activity on set, or ‘hurry up and wait’ as it’s known in the business. So I spent a fair bit of time waiting on the unlit dance floor of a dubious basement night club where the filming was taking place – along with around forty other extras. As we were all playing Geeks – with no acting required – we all wanted desperately to tweet about the experience. It was whilst I was waiting around that I realised that we all had a serious problem...
Spot the symptoms
...the symptoms were telling – small clusters of people huddled over – just outside the doorway, discussions about how many you do a day, along with a slight twitching and nervousness when we were downstairs and unable to feed our needs.
Realising that the only place to feed our habit was outside the club, we went up when we could, produced our little pocket packets and satisfied our addiction. Some of us were doing twenty to thirty a day – myself – I was, and still am, on around five or six.
Yes, I suddenly realised Tweeting is the new smoking, and whilst it is a fair bit healthier and a lot cheaper (until the governments find a way to tax it – as I am sure they will), it does share some of the dangerous habits and social stigma associated with cigarettes.
Try explaining to your girlfriend or mother why you have to tweet in the middle of dinner or just before dessert, or watch theatre and cinema goers scowl at you as you tweet trivia about the performance you are watching, and don’t even try and justify tweeting whilst driving or operating heavy machinery.
How long before we get non-tweeting sections in restaurants and on trains? How long before we see seven step programmes designed to deal with this addiction? And how long before we can only tweet in the privacy of our own homes?
Okay, so I am about to break the analogy that I’ve already stretched further than a malicious kid with a new Stretch Armstrong toy – but like many new social media habits, tweeting can take a serious hold over you if you suffer from an addictive personality.
How many is too many?
Research shows that people dislike receiving too many tweets from one person – twenty to thirty a day most people find annoying. (In fact, there are many people out there – myself included – that find the new location apps FourSquare and Gowalla intensely irritating for their constant automatic tweets about what someone is up to) – so if you are tweeting for business, then less is definitely more.
If you can’t go a single day without tweeting and get panic attacks when your phone or wifi loses signal, then maybe, just maybe, you should consider some professional help.
Right, gotta go, I’ve just finished my tenth cup of espresso and I need to get m m m more.