This is not a post to convince you to delete social media.
This is not a post to brag about moral superiority for deleting social media.
This is a post about falling out of love with my favorite social media platform, and the clarity it brought me.
So if you love Twitter – awesome! Stay! Continue loving it. My experience is mine alone, and does not extend to every Twitter user. But in case you’ve found yourself falling out of love with this or any other social media platform, I’m sharing for you. For the people who have asked where I’ve gone. For the friends who have shared my feelings about this in recent weeks.
Twitter is incredible. Short, witty content. News. Memes. Niches. Weird twitter. I have loved it so much. I made so many friends. Learned so much. Connected with people I would have otherwise never known.
But even if it stayed exactly like that, without any of the extra negative and toxic garbage, I think I’d still be stepping away. Because it created an alternate universe. On the internet, I reached hundreds of people each day. I was exposed to hundreds of thoughts and opinions and pictures and rants and just… stuff. The world was humongous.
I loved being clued in to things all over the world. I loved having friends in different walks of life, all over the country. To see how someone’s adorable kid was doing or what hilarious thing that dude’s coworker said to him today. To be on the cutting edge of breaking news. There was so much of it! And I could be in and up to date with it all!
The world was so big. There were so many people. It made me start seeing my own life through the tiny end of the funnel. I was so small. Only a few things were worth sending to the large end of the funnel. There was so much more ~out there to share and experience! I began thinking of my everyday life in terms of this larger, digital world. It was great to think big picture. It was great to identify with other moms, states away, going through the same things. It was great to hear a multitude of perspectives.
It was not great to hear an amplified, grand spectrum of negativity and complaining, more than you’d ever hear in a normal day. It was not great to think of that huge end of the funnel, and let THAT determine which things were worth saying. Which opinions were #woke enough. Which jokes would be funny enough. Which perspectives would so quickly be out-of-date. Because trust me, your opinion and perspective can be out-of-date by the afternoon.
On Twitter there is so much acceptance, which can be awesome. But I saw it in so many ways that weren’t awesome. So much acceptance of hate. Acceptance of indulgence. Acceptance of poorly managing mental illness. On Twitter there are a billion strangers who are willing to say “YASSS QUEEN!!!!” and “treat yo self!” and “Totally blow off work! Your mental health is more important!”
Because no twitter friend/stranger is going to say something that will make you not like them. They’ve got no dog in your fight. We just like being a part of something, and “supporting” strangers seems a loving and fun way to do that. It always made me uncomfortable to see people complaining about their husbands, their moms, their boss – PUBLICLY on the internet. And even more uncomfortable to see people rushing to comfort and validate them. Do we stop to think what we may be doing by agreeing that their husband is a dick when we don’t actually know him, or the story, or even her?? Is it actually going to help their mental health to have their poor coping techniques validated by strangers? Do ask ~why we’re rushing to help them in an internet battle for a popular cause? No. Because it doesn’t affect us. It’s too easy to offer acceptance and support.
I had a hard time articulating my thoughts about this until I read Braving the Wilderness, where Brene Brown says “They won’t be there to drive you to chemo.” But their acceptance had come to mean a lot to me. In my battle with mental health I realized how easy it would be to take my complaining and struggles and dirty laundry to the internet. I knew I’d be understood and validated. But I also knew the people I could call to watch my kids or tell me to get it together were the ones I could truly trust, and they were I R L. And that their acceptance was more or less unconditional. Twitter? Not so much.
Because you also see intolerance of the worst sort. Use poor judgement in a lame joke and we. will. eviscerate. you. Prepare to have every single thing misinterpreted. “Call Out Culture” was born and bred on Twitter. Forget about expressing a conservative opinion. On Twitter Hillary Clinton is a saint and Donald Trump is dehumanized. Constantly. (Another gem from Braving the Wilderness was realizing how much we dehumanize those we don’t like or disagree with.) People are only people if they agree with you, apparently.
It can, for some people, create this culture of false acceptance. We accept you and validate you constantly, even if you don’t deserve it, until we disagree and then we’re gonna block or unfollow. But we’re also gonna make you feel bad if you block or unfollow people.
I felt a need to stay current. To know what the *woke* *current* *at the moment* stances were. To believe what people said. To contribute to the conversation. But I just kept feeling so bad. Bad for the negative and discouraging circumstances people found themselves in. Bad about the awful current events happening (seemingly) every second, everywhere, to everyone. Bad about mistakes other people were making, bad about mistakes I’d made.
Angry about, well everything. Sad. Dismayed. Negative. Concerned. I kept curating my feed. Unfollowing. Blocking. Adding more positivity to my feed. And that worked for a while. Until it didn’t. Then Twitter rolled out longer tweets, and kept putting “suggested tweets” in my feed. I’d see vitriol that had nothing to do with me, unchosen by me, all over my feed.
Eventually all of Twitter felt infected to me. People I loved (and still love!!!) had negativity so interspersed with their regularly awesome feed. Every day there was some new outrage or drama. I recognize that most people are probably more self-assured and disciplined than I am – they might be able to scroll past. They might be able to let it bounce off. They might be able to control their feed and time spent on Twitter. And maybe I’ll get there one day, and find myself back on Twitter to share puns and memes and the jokes too inappropriate to share on Instagram stories. We’ll see.
What I know is this:
I deleted Twitter off my phone over a month ago. I checked it a little here and there on my laptop for a week or so, but found myself blissfully not missing it. On occasion I think of something hilarious or witty and think “ah that’d be a good tweet!” But really? The only thing I miss is more up-to-date connection with people I like. Thankfully I’m able to keep it up through texting or Instagram. And the people who actually ~like me back? They’re reaching out elsewhere too.
Last week (week before? idk), I had a really great day. My anxiety had been on the fritz for a week, but that day I woke up feeling better and really tackled my day. I was feeling 100 emoji. Ryan came home and we had a great evening. Then before bed he asked if I had heard about “the Aziz Ansari stuff.” I hadn’t. He quickly summed up the story in a few bullet points, including arguments for both sides. In under 5 minutes I was caught up on a dramatic (?) current event, and it ended with a “Hmm.” And then I moved on.
In that moment something crystallized. Had I been on Twitter, I’d have known the news hours, if not a day earlier. I’d be well acquainted with the situation and I’d have spent the day listening to a lot of opinions and outrage. I’d have felt the need to have a stance and to share it articulately. I’d have launched into it with Ryan the second he got home.
And I am so glad I didn’t. Maybe it’s just a reflection on my soft heart and ~feelings, my lack of self-discipline. I’m willing to accept all the fault for that. But what I knew was that instead of being embroiled in that drama on Twitter, I had spent a day doing so much more with my daughters. I hadn’t been drawn into or stressed about a situation that honestly… does not affect me one way or another.
IT DOES NOT AFFECT ME ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. I understand the argument of white privilege meaning I have the luxury of not caring about politics or current events. It’s not that. It’s just realizing how many things you can’t change, you can’t #woke away – all they do is add stress.
So much of Twitter does not ~actually affect me one way or another. But I let it. Maybe I’m just not cut out for Twitter. Too soft. Weak sauce. That’s ok. Right now I am living happy without Twitter, and wanted to share that. I have had people ask where I went, and talked to two close friends who were experiencing the same things I was – so here I am sharing it.
I feel no shame in admitting I couldn’t deal. Because I can also say with confidence, and I doubt many would disagree, that Twitter has changed in a few small but significant ways since the election, and not just ~because of the election. Twitter is hilarious and smart and fun and informative. And Twitter got to be too much for me. It became far too much work to eliminate the negativity from my feed.
In exchange I have gained more time, more battery, and a more curated, balanced news feed. All the important stuff makes it to my other news sources anyway.
Because no human person was designed for this barrage of sad and scary current events. And no human head was designed to balance 600+ perspectives on each new development. And no human heart was created to be close, healthy friends with this many people on the internet.
Certainly not THIS human anyway.
Maybe I’ll be back again one day. But maybe I’ll just keep reading “25 Funniest Tweets” listicles on Buzzfeed to get a meme fix and move along with my life.