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Knightly: Living my life 140 characters at a time

My name is @KnightlyGrind and I have a Twitter addiction.

I first wrote those words in 2013 when I was the editor of the Boulder City Review. My addiction has not abated in the three years since. If anything, it has grown.

I seem to live my life now in 140 characters, and it can sometimes have a negative impact on my marriage. It has changed the way I watch sports, and spend time traveling.

I launched my Twitter account 5 years, 7 months and 1 day ago as I write this on Thursday. Since then I have sent 18,803 Tweets. Since the average Tweet is nearly 11 words by some studies, I’ve written approximately 207,000 words. According to the Huffington Post, the median book length is 64,000 words, so I’ve written three books worth of mostly nonsense on this social media platform.

This doesn’t count my first Twitter account that I deleted in 2010 because I was feeling moody.

Twitter is an online social network that was created in 2006 and is second only to Facebook in estimated unique monthly users, according to ebizmba.com. It is a microblogging site with each post limited to 140 characters called a “tweet.”

How can that be addicting, you ask? Trust me, it is.

A 2012 study by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business showed that social media (including Facebook and texting) are more addictive than smoking and alcohol.

There are 100 million active Twitter users generating nearly 250 million tweets a day. All these tweets are a free flow of information and ideas, good and bad, without filter.

Where did I first read of the death of Michael Jackson?

Where did I first read Osama bin Laden was killed?

Where did I follow the recent UNLV basketball coaching search drama?

All Twitter.

Ironically, while I was writing this column Thursday morning, a Tweet came across that the musician Prince had died at age 57.

Twitter has become my main source of news information in the past few years. It fits in my pocket on my iPhone and is easily accessed everywhere. It also has a major gathering place for journalists, so I am able to directly read what they’re discussing or what they’re linking to.

So how has this become an addiction? Let me explain a little more how this platform works. Twitter allows registered users to “follow” other registered users. This can be practically anything you can think of because practically anything you can think of is on Twitter. Corporations, politicians, sports teams, athletes, coaches, news outlets, musicians, celebrities, everyday people all have gathered in the Twitter world.

One of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s strengths is he is utilizing Twitter better than other candidates. Trump is a Twitter machine, having sent more than 31,700 Tweets through his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, which has 7.6 million followers.

Yes, the Pahrump Valley Times has a Twitter account, @pvtimes.

It is important to note that while I am making light of my own use of Twitter, it is becoming a growing concern in studies of younger users.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently issued a study stating U.S. adults ages 19 to 32 are on social media on average of 61 minutes per day, and visit various social media sites 30 times per week. The study found heavy social media users were three times more likely to battle depression, whether from cyber-bullying or just a sense of wasting time.

So how does this all tie into an addiction for me? The last thing I do as I lie in bed at night before falling asleep is read my Twitter feed from the 3,000-plus people I follow. I will let you guess what the first thing I do when I wake up is.

Like anything, Twitter can be enjoyed in moderation but it is easy to get carried away.

It’s a social-media world, and we’re just living in it.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

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