Twitter Addiction: Advice From a Cognitive Therapist

Product DetailsOne day, after hours of sliding my cursor from Twitter to Facebook to Stats for my blogs and back to Twitter, when I should have been writing, I emailed Dr. M, a cognitive therapist.

Dr. M had previously helped me understand that worry is an addiction; it hits the same pleasure center of the brain that other addictions, such as alcohol, do.

The more I worry, the more it reinforces me to worry; ever the pleasure-seeker, I worry more and perpetuate the cycle. Yet, once I understood the worry addiction, I worried less. While I am inclined toward overindulging in pleasurable activities (In my mother’s words. “Susan, you’re an extremist!”), I am also driven to avoid the consequences, in the quest for maximum, well, pleasure.

It took only one hangover to make me decide never to experience that feeling again. My attraction to pleasure also includes never wanting to be full or overweight or slowed down by the effects of smoking.

So, I feel pretty bad at the end of a day spent, not on writing, but on addictive flitting back and forth between Facebook and Twitter, seeking that serotonin surge I get from seeing that someone commented on my fan page or RT’ed my tweet.

Here’s what The Cognitive advised:

1. Give yourself a daily limit for checking Twitter. You can have a chart next to the computer in order to track the frequency. You can
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also print the word, “STOP” in bold red at the bottom of the chart to serve as a reminder to stop.

2. Track what increases this particular checking behavior – like any other habit-related or addictive behavior (e.g., consider over-eating), it is important to understand the precipitants.

What emotions, thoughts, and/or behaviors activate your desire to check the Twitter? For instance:

  • Do you begin to feel anxious and then check?
  • Do you begin to feel bored and then check?
  • Do you begin surfing the net and then find yourself having an increased urge to check?

In summary, find out what the precipitants are and begin to modify these to decrease the likelihood of the stats checking behavior.

3. Give yourself a reward for NOT engaging in the behavior. Remember that checking Twitter may be intrinsically rewarding; therefore, every time you check, you get reinforced on the behavior. Replace the reward of checking with another reward.

Thanks Dr. M. Knowing that–every time I look for a retweet–I’m feeding an addiction, helps me re-think doing it so often.
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Conundrum: After I tweet the link to this post about Twitter, I’ll be dying more than usual to see if any of the Twitter mavens RT it.

What reward could possibly replace the pleasure of clicking on that little bluebird icon? Please advise in the comments!

Pondering: Given that the Twitter logo is all lower case (twitter), why do the media capitalize it? And, then, why isn’t tweet capitalized too?


Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others                                                  Check it out on, Kindle, and Smashwords

The perfect book for worrywarts or anyone who enjoys a “neurotic, hilarious, poignant,” deeply personal story.

With wit and grit, Susan Orlins inspires you to embrace your worries, even if you have to wipe them down with Clorox first. (from Amazon review)

Some of my posts on Life Goes Strong (worried about my inability to make choices and narrow down this list):


*Joyce Maynard Adopted Two Girls From Ethiopia Then Gave Them Up

*He Asked, “Am I Going To Die?” I Had To Tell Him, “Yes You Are.”

*Can Separate Bedrooms Save Or Destroy A Marriage?

 See also:

*10 Easy, Healthful Breakfast Ideas

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