On March 11th, it is National No Smoking Day – whether cigarette lighters of the world will notice is neither here nor there. According to research by Nicobloc, the UK currently has around 10 million smokers with approximately only 4% successfully quitting in the wake of the 2007 smoking ban.
That is, in theory, ten million people who go out of their places of work for say, twenty minutes a day on top of their hour lunch breaks, to sit or stand alone or with others and contemplate, or chat. The liklihood is that they’ll go out in a group and chat for a few minutes, gossip most likely, about something to do with no-one in particular, and then retreat to the warmth of the office.
But, this is nothing compared to the amount of time we spend online – a recent survey said that 48% of workers waste time online, whereas only 15% took longer breaks. So what were the respondents doing online? The survey doesn’t say.
So does this mean that whilst colleagues go outside for a cigarette break, everyone else is on Twitter seeing what conversations are flowing, what news is breaking or what the score in the cricket is?
I stumbled across this interesting argument that Chris Nee developed, saying:
Twitter folk are the smokers of social media. Much like … musos, Twitter is their “thing”. They’re immensely proud of it, yet they’re forced outside to be geeky on their own. Still, they have the best conversations while they’re out there.
They’re also sort of cool and sort of uncool at the same time. They’re a little clan, but they’re also forced outside by the mainstream. That coolness stems in part from a streak of creativity, which many users of Twitter share.
I would argue, that there is an element of truth in this. Absolutely – every time the smokers pop outside, why shouldn’t I induge in a bit of retweet-action? They’ve a right to do something they enjoy, why not allow me to do the same for a brief fleeting second?
The difference here is of course that by interacting with your sphere on Twitter, you are connecting with a much wider audience, perhaps participating in, or adding to, a much larger conversation. All of a sudden, the breaks don’t seem too bad do they?
As an aside, just as they’re going out for a sneaky cig break, ask the smokers in your office to have a quick watch of this…