Twitter as a Cure for Perfectionism

Perfectionism can cripple productivity in that it will stop you from even getting started. Why do something now if it will not be perfect? Why should I not shave this yak? This problem is particularly insidious in programming and design,  in that you can argue that there may very well be a “perfect” way of doing it. The global optimum of some function, or the minimum amount of ink to convey an idea. You can essentially work forever and never achieve perfection. There is a cure, in an unlikely place: Twitter.

I was (and to some degree still am) guilty of perfectionism, but I found the most therapeutic device in combating this was having a space to spout off half-cocked ideas into the ether and watch them linger. I noticed that no matter how much or how little time I spent crafting these short messages, it was always kind of short of perfect and it did not matter.

If you find yourself bored one day, log into a streaming Twitter client (e.g. TweetDeck) and add a trending hash tag column. What you’ll see immediately is that almost no tweet is significant. You could craft the most beautiful, intelligent short poem and post it to an unknown quantity of people. Could no one see it? Perhaps, though unlikely. Could someone see it and move on to the thousands of other messages they’re trying to consume? Absolutely.

This exercise reinforces that more important than holding something to perfection, you should let it go. Someone may call you mediocre, but that is just as insignificant. If they someone sees it and doesn’t think it’s great, it’s unlikely they’ll do anything but move on (unbeknownst to you). A kind of social nihilism.

This echos with almost all social networks where there really is no way to be negative using the software (e.g. favorite, like, heart), Hater App excluded.

While this technique may not work in quite the same way if you have over 100k followers, it addresses the real problem at hand: worrying that you’re not as great as you want to be and people will find out. Tweet more, ship more, write more, design more, who cares?