Why I deleted my GapingVoid account

by Mathew on April 10, 2008 · 16 comments

So Hugh Macleod has made a splash in the blogosphere — and the Twitter-sphere, I suppose — by deleting his Twitter account. Hugh is the cartoonist/wine merchant (how many times do you see those words together?) who pens the Gaping Void cartoons, and is reportedly also working on a book. Why did he delete his Twitter account? He says it was too easy, and that it got in the way of doing other important things.

Hugh is entitled to his opinion, obviously. And there’s no question that Twitter can be awfully distracting, like a conversation at a party that is just out of earshot, where you can overhear bits and pieces of what’s going on. Hard to concentrate. But why did he have to make such a big deal out of it? I’m with Rex Hammock; you don’t have to cancel your account — just don’t go there as much. I haven’t deleted my Gaping Void bookmark, I just don’t go there quite as often. And sometimes Twitter posts produce ideas, as my friend Tony Hung notes.

Sure, take some time off and do other things — think deeply and blog about it, as Ted Rheingold suggests. There’s no question that there are flaws with Twitter, and Misha from Three Minds does a pretty good job of enumerating a few (hat tip to Changing Way). But why does it have to be all or nothing? Some things deserve a book, some things deserve a magazine article, some things deserve a blog post, and some are perfectly designed for a Twitter message. There’s room for all of them.

Update:

In other news, Ethan Kaplan of blackrimglasses would like everyone to know that he is *not* deleting his Twitter account.

  • http://eckenrodehouse.net n8k99

    i believe that some people just do things in binary; fullbore or nil. It's just how they are wired up until they figure out how to balance everything, set some priorities and reqrrange the time expenses. i do understand how twitter can totally suck up the time, its like hanging out on a school night with pals that have no curfew so it gets really hard to break away and do your homework or study for that upcoming test.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Hanging out on a school night with pals that have no curfew — that's
    a good one. I might have to use that :-)

  • http://seanmcdonald.ca Sean

    agree totally… there's a lot about twitter people go all or nothing about. being in or out of it, whether it's useful or not, to follow or not to follow…. i think it's best used with some progression to figure out how it fits in your life or workflow and who you should follow or be followed by.

  • http://www.davidrdgratton.com Ddonat

    I generally agree, but some people can become literally addicted to a medium. If you are addicted.. then getting rid of it might be the best plan. I am a recovered TV-o-holic. The only way I was able to kick my TV addiction in 1990 was to remove all TVs from my home and view. When I booked into a Hotel, I told them to remove the TV before I checked in. They never understood the request: “Just don't turn it on, sir”, or “How about if we unplug it for you?” This drastic measure was the only way I could break the habit.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Wow — really, David? That's quite the addiction. In any case, I
    think you are right — but I didn't get the impression that Hugh was
    addicted to it, just that he spent too much time on it because it was
    easy to do so. Or maybe that's the same thing :-)

  • http://eckenrodehouse.net n8k99

    thank you thank you

    i'll be here all week— or until i completely delete my disqus account

    ba-dum ba!

  • Roscoe

    He didn't make a big deal out of it. You are the one making a big deal out of it.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I meant by deleting it, rather than just not using it — and then
    telling everyone that he was deleting it. Hugh knows how many people
    read his blog. It was a statement. I'm just responding.

  • http://www.keithshepard.com/ KeithShepard

    I agree with you as well Mathew. No reason to delete the account. Twitter can be a lot like IRC in that you can spend too much time paying attention to it.

    I can understand how Hugh feels. I've seen people bail out of IRC all together because it was taking up too much of their life, but I still use it to get info., maintain contacts and collaborate on hobby projects.

    Instead of deleting Twitter, seek to discipline your usage. It'll help you in other areas of you life as well.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Good point, Keith.

  • andrewgoodman

    Reflecting on this, Matthew, I feel there's a strong possibility that Hugh is right, and you are wrong. :)

    Some things are just time sucks and just seem important because you've got yourself caught up in their orbit. I personally retired from “investing” and “frequent trading” in 2000 (coincidentally, the same time a lot of people did). My life improved significantly. I never looked back.

    Since the purpose of the activity was to get rich (I don't think anyone day-trades for the “insights” it provides), and it wasn't achieving that goal any better than any other means, I stopped.

    What is the purpose of Twitter again?

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I could be wrong, Andrew — it's been known to happen. But I still
    don't see why it has to be all or nothing. There's value in lots of
    things, even if only a little, and even if it's only entertainment
    value. As for the purpose, what's the purpose of the Internet again?
    What's the purpose of the telephone, or email? It is what you make of
    it.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com Hugh MacLeod

    Hey Matthew,

    Just saw this post, Rock on. It still AMAZES me, one month later, how much brou-ha-ha this wee scandal caused :)

    Of course, when I say scandal, I do mean in the strictly “inside-baseball” sense of the word ;-)

    Like your blog. Always good stuff going on here. Keep ut up :)

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Hugh. And just for the record, I love your stuff and I think
    it's great that you are trying new things and focusing on what is best
    for you and your art. I was just venting :-) Rock on.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com Hugh MacLeod

    Hey Matthew,

    Just saw this post, Rock on. It still AMAZES me, one month later, how much brou-ha-ha this wee scandal caused :)

    Of course, when I say scandal, I do mean in the strictly “inside-baseball” sense of the word ;-)

    Like your blog. Always good stuff going on here. Keep ut up :)

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Hugh. And just for the record, I love your stuff and I think
    it's great that you are trying new things and focusing on what is best
    for you and your art. I was just venting :-) Rock on.

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