We all know how hard it is to quit an addiction. You know, like that daily ice cream indulgence mid-afternoon (that used to be mine), or that nasty pack-a-day habit. But can social media giant Twitter really help with that? The New York Times seems to think so.
Earlier this week one of their reporters, Brian Stelter, claimed that he lost 75 pounds just by "tweeting" the details of his diet. His original goal was merely to lose 25 pounds before turning 25. Whenever he wanted to eat compulsively, he took to his iPhone instead. His online "cheering section" was so strong that one of his followers lost 50 pounds by following and completing the journey along with him. But how powerful is Twitter and a support group filled with strangers?
Stelter claimed he "couldn't diet alone" but didn't want to blog about it, keep a diary, or join Weight Watchers. He did the most cliche thing Twitter is known for: Record every single thing he ate, calorie by calorie, via tweet.
But rather than be annoyed by it and click "unfollow" -- the standard protocol of most Twitter subscribers -- most just sent messages of encouragement, instead. He was so inspiring to others that one of his younger brothers, Jason, also decided to take to Twitter, with the Goal of losing 50 pounds by the end of October.
Twitter has made Stelter so confident about his weight loss, in fact, that he ordered a "specially made scale" that posts its results onto Twitter every week. We're not kidding.
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TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis also took to Twitter to help her quit smoking. She'd been a smoker for 15 years, and once word of Stelter's Twitter account got out, she took to TechCrunch to mention her success. Whenever she got the urge to smoke, much like Stelter, she tweeted instead of smoking -- especially when at parties and passing by airport entrances.
But can Twitter really be a useful tool for knocking a bad habit or an addiction? Do you think recovery centers will now implement tweeting instead of eating, doing drugs, and then some, or are all of these success stories merely using Twitter as their wet blanket, looking for validation from strangers and replacing one addiction with a social media addiction?
We're kind of shocked that more than 1,000 followers in (for Stelter) and even as much as over 7,000 followers (in Totsis' case) haven't gotten bored yet by "I ate this just now" tweets.