In college, I subscribed to and read the New York Times every day during breakfast. It held some great writing, and the political opinion pieces were usually riveting and made for great table talk with other political science majors.

It was in college, though, that the world began to shift to the always-on digital news stream we all know and love today. I was one of the first to join Facebook, and a couple of years later used my fancy feature phone to sign up for Twitter via SMS.[ref]We all referred to Twitter as "Phone Crack" at the time due to its heavily addictive nature. If only we knew ...[/ref] The world was changing rapidly, and these changes meant far more than the end of my hard-copy newspaper subscription.

Today, I don't read any one newspaper. I don't subscribe to news media that comes in the mail or is dropped at my doorstep.

I read Twitter.

It's through Twitter that I learned of the earthquake in Japan - before it was reported on CNN. It's through Twitter that I learned the results of the last election - before anything was reported in the news. It's through Twitter that I learned about Ferguson - before anyone mentioned the city on the evening reports.

Going without Twitter for a month has mean I've missed quite a bit, both in terms of industry buzz and real-world events. Having to wait for the nightly news or listen to the morning radio reports and rely on Feedly for updates has severely limited the amount of content consumption of which I've been capable over the past 31 days.

It also means I've been much more productive without the constant distraction of an always-on data stream. But, in hindsight, I think I'll happily sacrifice the tiny bit of productivity I lose with Twitter updates in the right corner of my screen if I can reap:

  • More frequent updates about current events
  • Instant access to other developers in the community
  • A way to interact with others, across the globe, inĀ real time without having to establish such a channel in the first place

Going without Twitter has taught me how valuable real-world relationships can be and the incredible benefits of being "right here" where I am instead of plugged in to a phone. It's also helped show me the value such a highly-connected medium brings to our always on-the-go and distributed lifestyle.