Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Why I Left Twitter

I deleted my Facebook account years ago. I loved Facebook in the early days, but it changed. I noticed more people on Facebook that I felt obligated to "friend" such as far-flung family members, once upon a time coworkers, former classmates from my giant high school that I never really knew. Most of these people weren't truly my friends, but they were free to interact with each other via my page. *shudder* What's worse is that I caught myself viewing the pages/posts of actual friends, and thinking "that's not how it happened", or "that photo makes it look much better than it was".  I was looking at highly curated, well edited, filtered lies. I was judging my actual friends harshly. So, I left.

But I still loved Twitter, and told people to find me there.

At first, I loved the "shout into the void" aspect of Twitter. I could quip, quote, share a silly secret with little repercussion or interaction. And I honestly liked that. Occasionally a friend would ask about a Twitter post when we met in real life, and it was welcome conversation. Mixed in with the cute quips was a lot of really ugly stuff, but I could avoid that stuff pretty easily in the early days of Twitter.

I started having really mixed feelings about Twitter a few years ago. I would check Twitter to see what kind of cleverness my writer and actor friends might offer, but also saw more ugliness. My pulse would quicken in a bad way, like I was getting angry about things I had zero control over. Twitter turned into a way to hurl abuse, insults, lies, hurtful "jokes" and essentially start a campaign of ugliness against someone, a cause, a group of people or a belief system. Of course there were still the much retweeted uplifting, sweet or politely funny posts, BUT, those nicely clever tweets don't set the virtual world on fire the way the hateful tweets do.

I deleted Twitter from my phone entirely and turned off notifications on my laptop, but still kept my account active. I still looked at Twitter a few times a day. I was mildly addicted to the gamble of possibly seeing fun, clever, happy tweets from friends. I was mildly addicted to getting engagement on my own tweets in the form of likes, retweets and responses.

I tried to stick it out on Twitter by blocking certain accounts, muting words, muting hashtags. Frankly, it didn't work. For example: I didn't like the show Game of Thrones. As fervor built during the final season of Game of Thrones, I muted #GoT, #GameofThrones, #gameofthrones, #got, Game of Thrones, GoT, Mother of Dragons and all sorts of other Game of Thrones buzzwords and permutations thereof. My Twitter feed then started getting lots of Twitter sponsored posts for all things Game of Thrones. Twitter, just duh, the exact opposite of what I want. So imagine what happened with all of the truly triggering hashtags, phrases, words and accounts that I tried to block and mute. My Twitter feed turned into a bunch of mess that I didn't want to see.

Two months ago, I hit my breaking point with Twitter. I noticed that I was only getting angry and feeling discouraged each time I looked at Twitter. The gamble was raising my blood pressure, but it wasn't paying off with nearly enough feel good moments any longer. So I deleted my Twitter account.

Here's the really awesome thing: I don't miss Twitter. I feel better without that noise. I have more free time, which I use to read books, look at news sources I trust, and text directly with people I actually know and like.

I'm not telling you to delete your social media accounts. You do what works for you. Be mindful of how social media makes you feel.

I still love Instagram... for the time being. I love making "Squirrel Time" videos almost daily for my Instagram stories. I like that quick creative exercise. When I see friends in real life, they tell me that they love the squirrel videos. That makes me happy. I still love posting photos of my silly dog, my terribly lovable cats, travel moments, stuff I bake or just odd little scenes that I observe to Instagram. There may come a time when I don't love Instagram anymore though.