I Love Twitter, But I Have To Quit It | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

I Love Twitter, But I Have To Quit It

As the headline says, I’m afraid I have to stop twittering, for a little while at least. I love Twitter. I enjoy getting updates from friends and colleagues, and frankly I find a LOT of good links and information from it daily.

But sadly, I’m drowning in tweets and it’s becoming too much of an information overload to keep up with reading them all.

I think the turning point was last week when I installed a neat little application called OutTwit, which delivers tweets directly to my Outlook. This is great, I thought, I don’t have to login to the website and try to catch up on my tweets, now I can just read them in my email.

Wrong decision.

What happened was that I found that my 195 “friends” send a TON of tweets. I went away for close to 48 hours and returned to see my email inbox full of about 800 messages.

So Shawn suggested I have the tweets sent to a special folder in Outlook, which I did, but the problem with that is, I see them all collecting in there, and when I try to go and read them, I feel completely overwhelmed. I mean, today alone I had over 500 tweets in that email box.

So Twitter, it’s time for me to walk away, for a little while at least. I just can’t keep up, and you’ve become way too much of a distraction for me.

I’ll be back, someday?

Anyone have any tips for Twitter information overload?

About the Author

Shawn Collins - November 27, 2007

Hey Jim –

I was like that at one point, and I just cut down on the number of people I followed.

So far today, I just have a few dozen Tweets.

One way I streamlined was to stop following people who weren't following me.

Sort of hard to have a conversation with them if they don't see my Tweets.

The Foo - November 27, 2007

it is overwhelming and that’s why i never used email to read my twits as i was afraid it’ll be like that. the need to read twits is a powerful force indeed.

i don’t really want to give up twitter… but may have to choose between twitter, jaiku or pownce (which I have accounts on too). Keeping up with 3 is just too much for me and I honestly don’t know how some people do. If it comes to the case where it is really affecting work or personal time — i think i might have to quit too. it is becoming dangerously close though — just have to watch myself.

good luck and hope to see you back on twitter again!

— thefoo (twitter name)

Jim Kukral - November 27, 2007

@the foo, thanks, I may be back someday.

@Shawn, I think I might have to do that, cut down to people who only follow me. Maybe I’ll try that first.

robyn tippins - November 27, 2007

Agreed. Had to pare down my own list and don,t read them all, just the ones that are live when i can read :)

Glenda Watson Hyatt - November 28, 2007

I am beginning to see twitter like the watercooler or lunch room at a J O B. You wander by when you have time and pick up bits of conversations, but you don’t stay all day otherwise you wouldn’t get any work done. For those working from home, twitter does provide the disjointed conversations like the watercooler does.

Lisa Galley - November 28, 2007

Like your website re-do. The interior decorator in me is greatly impressed. Like the video box, but have to say that the whole dental visit video made my dentist-paranoia flare up again; I had to hit the stop button the minute I saw the hygienist turning on the machine. Anyway, look forward to reading more posts on the new website.

Kevin D - November 28, 2007

Jim, I tend to use twitter three times per day (it is on all day however), first thing in the morning, click on every link twittered, not reading the text (quite cool to have 25+ pages open, all generally decent links ) same at lunch and then twitter banter once everything has died down later in the evening. I’d hate to receive the tweets by mail..and I think there should be more functions to remove people that don’t follow you, making it easier to remove.

George Nemeth - November 28, 2007

Uninstall OutTwit. Use a utility like Twitterific or just view Twitter in your browser. You can turn it on when you want, as KevinD suggests. Twitterific is nice, because you can set a time limit on how long it stays popped up. That said, it may be Mac only.

Lisa Marie Mary - November 28, 2007

Hey Jim – completely love the new theme! It looks great and it fits better in my screen!

I use the Firefox plugin, Twitbin, so I can just pull up the tweets in the side of the screen and I normally just read what’s going on right then. I will occasionally look further back in the history – if I feel I’ve missed something. But keeping up with everything everyone has said? No way.

Web 2.0 activities eat up too much of my time already!

Eric Rice - November 28, 2007

Yup, number one thing I noticed when I quit for a bit. I got stuff done! I’m involved in plenty of other ‘time sucks’ and they don’t even come close to the ‘learned ADD’ I feel I’m getting with things like Twitter.

What I am noticing is that I’m going back to reading longer formats (like blogs), because I hate having to weed through numerous tweets when someone puts together an insightful thought. It’s almost like we’re forcing ourselves to be soundbite-y because of 140 character limits (which we can easily get around anyway at the risk of being a conversation-spammer :)

Clay Newton - November 28, 2007

Yeah, getting them piped into your Outlook would be brutal. I turned on SMS notifications and woke up one morning with 200 text messages. I couldn’t wade through them all!!

It freaked me out.

Twitter is challenging in that there is really good stuff in there, plus a lot of noise. There’s no easy way to filter.

jonny goldstein - November 28, 2007

Just view it in your browser. Then you can dip in or not as you wish. And you won’t have that distraction of seeing your twitter folder bulge.

Goldie Katsu - November 28, 2007

Autorelaying tweets to anywhere other than a twitter client would overwhelm me. The answer is you have to learn to let it go. I use a twitter client that saves a certain number of tweets. When I go away and come back I check whats in the client and then go forward from there.

I also turn off twitter notifications and just ignore it from time to time and have 1 day a week twitter free. There is always something going on that we won’t know about and that is ok. Grazing on twitter will give you a good picture on what is going on, but don’t obsess about getting it all.

I was mostly offline for about a week (travel – I don’t drive and tweet) and when I came back not that much had happened. I had missed a few details here and there, but many of those were transient details anyway.

So my advice would be: pick who you follow carefully, get a client that has a limited buffer of tweets, take breaks, and know that the tweets you miss won’t really make a big difference in the end.

Sam Harrelson - November 28, 2007

Nice linkbait, Jim :)

Get a desktop client like Twitterific for Mac or Snitter for Mac/PC or Tweetr for PC and let the flow roll.

I’m with Marshall…


Jim Kukral - November 28, 2007

I don’t write linkbait Sam… since a couple of years ago at least anyway :)

I agree with Marshall too, but I’m not a publisher who writes 10 stories a day. If I was, I’d be glued to Twitter.

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Leather Sectionals - November 28, 2007

You mean you are all ‘a-twitter’ (if you get my allusion)? LOL!

But I do know what you mean by an information overload, it is almost a sensory overload sometimes.

Opensource Obscure - November 29, 2007

Being almost a lurker (english is not my mother tongue, so I may hardly be a conversationalist on twitter right now), i usually cut people from my following list in order to keep the twitter stream at a reasonable size.
Then, the ‘reciprocal’ thing is not so important for me – the important thing for me It’s not the number of people I follow on Twitter, but the kind&size of information flow they produce.
Some people usually write many interesting things, but at the same time they fill my twitter stream: I don’t want to lose what they say, so I cutted off them from my following list on twitter and I subscribed their blog feed.

Len Edgerly - November 29, 2007

I try to take a tech Sabbath each Sunday, meaning I stay off the Internet altogether but do allow myself the luxury of longer-attention computer work such as doing a chapter in my Final Cut Express tutorial book.

I picture Twitter as a river that’s always flowing, and I stop by its banks once in a while during the day (okay, a LOT of times during the day!), to see what’s passing by. I’m content to let what I miss flow by without my attention. I obsessively check “Replies” to see if anyone’s responding directly to a Tweet of mine.

Once in a while, I do need to reboot by staying offline for several days at a time, like taking a Zen retreat for a week of silence. Then everything looks new again, and I can go back to the river with new appreciation for what’s flowing by.

Yaggs - November 29, 2007

Ask Scoble. Guess he’ll tell you not to read each and every single Tweet but to scan the messages, learning to discover trends and have people send you the important stuff via @response.

I too think the Outlook tool was a bad idea.

Mike Power - November 29, 2007

Len Edgerly is spot on with his river analogy. I’d take it further. Rather than trying to build a dam (OutTwit) to hold the flow of the entire river, divert a stream to power your own little Twittermill from just enough of the flow to satisfy your needs. Turn the twitterwheel off and on as required :)

Oh, and don’t forget, you can have more than one.

fred wilson - November 29, 2007

i’m with the majority of your commenters on this

1) don’t feel like you have to read every twitter post from everyone
2) cut back on the number of people you follow
3) use twitterific when you are online
4) use the web client when you are not

i don’t try to read every post in every feed i am subscribed to and i treat twitter posts the same way. when i am somewhere outside of ny, like i am in sf now, i try to follow my sf friends on my phone, but then i turn them off

there’s lots that twitter can and should do to make all of this easier. i know they are working on a lot of this


Alex Falkenberg - November 29, 2007

I’m surprised to see that no one has mentioned using keyword tracking as an alternative way to stay on top of specific topics. In general, this works especially well for tweets containing links.

Also, since tracking doesn’t limit itself to just your followers/followees, you get insight and tweets you might otherwise miss, and you also find new people talking about your interests that you might want to actually follow (or subscribe to their blog directly, say).

I would like to see more options for filtering and searching tweets and twitterers, personally. The queries-per-hour limitation imposed on clients basically means this is something Twitter itself needs to address; it’s my understanding that these types of ideas are very much being worked on.

Given well-crafted lists of keywords, and some ability to filter/search them as necessary, you can indeed end up with a (generally) more focused, shorter list of items to read. You can still read the massive flow of tweets at your leisure, but if you instead set up filters in Outlook (or Google Reader, which is what I use to ‘collect’ tweets en masse), or tracking keywords with Twitter itself, you really get the best situation, and can free yourself from the urge to read -everything- as it happens.

Trula - November 29, 2007

Aw, I just found you on twitter today! I feel you though, it can be overwhelming. I just scan and reply to stuff that interests me.

Xavierv - November 29, 2007

I agree with George Nemeth, use twitterific.

Plus ask yourself why you use twitter and find the twitterapp that fits this need the best.
ex: I track my blog’s main keywords on Twitter to grab discussions I can relate to and easily infiltrate.

Jim Kukral - November 29, 2007

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting.

I’m still twitter-less after a day or so, doing ok. I almost logged in to check it today, almost.

I also attempted to install the firefox plugin someone suggested, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t get it to login.

Probably best )

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Syahid Ali - November 30, 2007

i use snitter to get my twitter daily fixes. it works for me!

Alex Falkenberg - November 30, 2007

I completely forgot to mention Tweet Scan: http://tweetscan.com

Again, the idea is instead of Twitter using you, you use Twitter. ;)

Good luck.

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Shana Albert - TheNanny612 - January 23, 2008

I totally understand where you are coming from with this post. I love Twitter…. don’t get me wrong. But, it is overwhelming. Every once and a while I take a day off, but I find myself thinking often, “What am I missing?”. And, I want very badly to pop onto twitter to see what everyone has been chatting about. I hate the feeling of being left out of the fun. But, at the same time….Twitter can me time consuming on an already very busy day.

This post was written in November… have you gotten back into Twitter again?

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Update: As of March 2008 I’m back on Twitter big time. Follow me, I’ll follow you back.


I’ll do a video about why I’m back at some point so subscribe to this blog feed!

Mike Power - March 23, 2008

I’ve noticed! ;)

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