My Trip to Twitter Land

canstockphoto19233296After deleting my Facebook account, I decided to evaluate Twitter. I’ve tried to look at it over the years, but it never hooked me. A pulled hamstring and twisted knee have made me more stationary these last couple of weeks, so it was a good time to review it again. I followed some people and organizations, read through trending Tweets, and have come to the conclusion that Twitter is not healthy for me. I deactivated my account.

The final straw was reading a Tweet that a woman had posted. Her 4-year-old said she wanted a lady dentist at the dentist’s office. Kids say a lot of strange and funny things. Adults on the other hand, can be complete and utter assholes. Grown humans immediately piled on, railing against feminism, bad parenting, and referring to the 4-year-old in every snide way possible. My child once said she wanted to live in a tree. If I’d said it on Twitter, I’d have been doxxed by arbor lovers and castigated for teaching my child to discriminate against houses – in much creepier and toxic terms.

canstockphoto26171619Part of my experience of Twitter, was the passive-aggressive hobby of muting and blocking people who I found irritating – the MAGAs, the people with full weapon arsenals in their profiles, the religious ranters, the misogynists, the people who had fifteen million emoticons in their user names. Apparently emoticons have evolved to high heel shoes and American flags. And criminy, hashtags render everything into a convoluted mishmash of eye-screwing chaos.

I blocked people who felt the need to advertise that they were patriots or God followers or that they had superior intellect. I find advertisement to be the red flag of self-definition. If you feel the need to advertise your moral high ground, I can only assume you are hiding toxic personality traits and eventually will tell me that I’m a libtard, a feminazi, the grammar police, and a bad parent. Twitter encourages the use of labels and categories and it all seems like the squawking of parrots and derivative categorization. It also encourages judgment.

canstockphoto50409609There is something unhealthy about seeing the worst of humanity’s thoughts on a daily basis and having elaborate, but silent arguments with them. The trick is, I think, to carefully curate who you follow and not to read anything beyond the original comment. I don’t have that kind of self-control or thick skin and if I started to respond to any of the many jerks who populate Twitter, I’d barely manage to feed and clean myself. The grammar corrections alone would render me frozen in front of my computer 24/7.

Perhaps it is my addictive personality. The fact that I have played 3 billion games of Freecell in my lifetime is a tip off. Or that in the six months after I discovered casino poker machines, I never had any money for more than ten minutes. I had to go cold turkey. I’ve spent more time in my life quitting bad things than starting good things. So I know this road and Twitter looks an awful lot like years of my life about to be sucked into the internet.

I assume there are normal people out there, who could take or leave habits, who know when to get offline or put down their phones. I am not one of them. And I can’t really afford to indulge my compulsions. I’m 50 and have a shitload of things I’d still like to do with my life.

canstockphoto52762970I’ve heard that there are positive things about using Twitter. There are writers who seem to handle the whole thing swimmingly – John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig have made it part of their careers. And I admire that particular skill set, but I have to finally admit, I’m not built for it. I move too slowly, think things over until they’re reduced to milquetoast responses. My sense of humor is an acquired taste, I have never been called a “wit” in any social setting, and sometimes I’m fiercely, fiercely angry.

I have to agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates who said something to the effect that having an immediate public platform for his thoughts was not good for him. It’s not good for me, either. I could do it, but at what cost to my organic thought processes? There are other writers I enjoy reading who are also not on Twitter, which seems like a career-damning thing to do, although most of them are established writers with high level platforms in the form of big name publishers or national magazines and papers.

canstockphoto10130744Still, I can’t change who I am in response to what may or may not be an eventual writing success. And it will be a success I never have, if I spend my time doing things that are not productive and that extract hours out of my day. Social media is, in capable hands, a useful tool. In my hands, it becomes an unwieldy addiction. That’s a hard-won admission that surely cements me into the category of codger, but I think I’m #okaywiththat.

37 Comments on “My Trip to Twitter Land

    • When social media has populated every aspect of our culture, it’s tough to make a decision to walk away. Many people really find it useful and worthwhile. I’ve gone back and forth for years about Facebook and Twitter, but it is really starting to come down to a question of time. I would also say that public discourse has become more toxic and less civil, so in addition to time, the psychological cost has to be calculated. Apparently, I had more to add to this post!

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  1. I agree with you for the most part. I too deleted my FB account and reluctantly turned to Twitter as an avenue to spread my blog posts/writing. I spend very little time there and only tend to follow people that post cute puppy pictures, things like that that are light-hearted. So I do not take Twitter seriously. A good thing, I think. 🙂

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  2. Having an immediate public platform for one’s thoughts is not good for anyone; said platform additionally constrained to small snippets of expression results in concise impulsive idiocy. Trump’s ready preference for it simply confirmed my feelings: Twitter is mostly the province of small stupidities uttered by immature minds. Tweets belong with birds, who know how to make of them beauty.

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    • Those were my initial thoughts as well, in terms of the quippy, bumper sticker kind of format. Still, the thought persisted that as a writer I might be shooting myself in the foot. Clearly pragmatism is winning out this time. But you’re right, that it is the preferred form of communication for our current president, should be a tip off that it might not be a fit for me. And yes to the birds! Despite the 14″ of snow, they are getting busy for spring. I’ve had to refill the feeders daily!

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      • I know you folks are tired of it, but I envy you the snow. We’ve had a barren winter, and now wildfire season is looking especially awful. Re. social media, I maintain a Facebook account solely as a second channel for blog posts. I post nothing else there, and allow no one else to post anything but responses; all content is public. That has worked well, I think, in terms of expanding audiences that do not duplicate one another.

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        • April in Minnesota broke a record this year – highest all-time accumulation. I actually wrecked my leg shoveling. Too bad we couldn’t send some of the inevitable spring flooding your way.

          That’s what I used Facebook and Twitter for as well – the auto push of blog posts. Generally, people have been kind in sharing my posts and they have bigger audiences, since I didn’t engage with people there. It may be the case in the future that I’ll have to use them again, but for now, they don’t serve a purpose I value.

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  3. Loved this post.. you are correct Twitter is littered with gobshites (Irish Word) I have first hand experienced some pretty Vile people on there .. mine is on private now..

    I enjoyed this .. thanks for sharing..

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    • Even as a spectator and not a target of the vileness, it felt truly disheartening to be reminded of how awful people can be. If you internalize even a smidgen of that, it can really dampen one’s joy.

      I just popped over to your blog – a woman after my own heart. Screw menopause – I believe in aging ungracefully. Added your site to my blog reader – thanks!

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  4. I went on a Twitter break at Christmas after spending too much time scrolling. I find I’ve been drawn back into it in recent weeks. I blame your American politics. It’s endlessly fascinating/terrifying and Twitter does provide some good, timely links. (As opposed to Facebook, which is generally lame). But it’s a time suck, for sure. And I come away hating people. I guess the trick is to not read comments. Ever. Anywhere.

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    • Yes, our political scene has become chaotic – instability means that the news changes from minute to minute, so you feel like if you don’t pay attention, you won’t find out which country we’ve bombed or who else has been fired. Part of me feels like there is malevolent intent – to turn us all into spectators to the president’s reality show.
      I’ve been questioning my need for a “fix” of drama or anger or whatever gets fueled when I read people’s feeds and how I feel about humanity is always substantially worse afterwards. If I could stick to the positive or interesting news, it would be okay, but I think I look for the fix. Hence the realization that it is not a healthy medium for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t think you’re a codger. Social media has its pros and cons. My favourite is Facebook primarily because it’s an easy way for me to keep in touch with people I like and care about — particularly those who live out of town or far away. Guess that makes me lazy. I have found some interesting people to follow on Twitter and basically I get very little out of LinkedIn in terms of business, which is what it’s designed for. Because I’m in advertising I have to understand and use social media because clients expect it. But thankfully I’m mot addicted and have no trouble unplugging.

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    • My few forays into Facebook were not enjoyable, but I also tend to be fond of writing letters – no ads, no data collection, and no aggravating garbage in the feed. I know a lot of people who do like to stay connected on Facebook – I frustrate them a bit.

      I think that part of the success of social media is that it has created a sense of “need to know” that really isn’t a need and likely not good for people like me, who are intense, introverted, and easily sucked in by negativity. But you’re obviously not like that and have a healthy relationship with social media.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know many people who feel exactly as you do. I think I do have a healthy relationship with social media — at least so far so good.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have FB and Twitter accounts but rarely use Twitter. Not sure why I have it, except at one time ‘everyone’ said I should. I have cut way back on FB, but there are good uses. My high school class is planning a reunion and looking for all graduates. They have an account for the reunion and I can keep up with the planning and say hi to long-lost classmates. The trick is, as my mother-in-law used to say, “everything in moderation”.

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    • Your mother-in-law was right. And if I were an upright citizen without compulsive tendencies, I would be able to tend a lovely social media garden. Instead, much like my real garden, I am overly ambitious, a little obsessive, and eventually, completely burnt out. The real trick is, I think, knowing one’s own limitations and tendencies.

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  7. Hey Michelle,
    Im on twitter, but I dont get it! Sounds strange, I know, but it just baffles me!
    I put up an account caz as a writer I figured I had to. But I never post unless it’s to push a blog post through, and I pretty much don’t understand how to use it or even why people do.
    I wish it would just fly away, far far away, like the birds!
    Oh, hope your leg heals soon!
    😂

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  8. Thanks, Lisa. Twitter is not an intuitive platform (despite the fact that people use it indiscriminately), but I think I understand it enough to make the choice not to use it. I think we get a lot of messages as writers that are not useful, especially when it doesn’t take into account one’s personality or work habits or where you are in your career. But I suppose that is part of the process – figuring out what is useful for you and what is not.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have cut way back on my Facebook usage. I found that I began disliking so many people (friends and family) after seeing some of the political posts they liked and shared. Facebook has become a mean-spirited, foul land. Twitter is good because I hop on for 15 minutes a day, catch up, and I’m done. There’s not too much interaction, unlike FB which is more personal. There are some writers and ecologists that I enjoy reading/following. I don’t get into the follower/following/follow back things too much. I really only want to interact with those who share common interests, as opposed to collecting followers. Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I enjoy seeing all of the nature pictures from all over, and folks seem to be a lot nicer on IG. At least that has been my experience. Kudos to you for trying out and seeing what works for you, and removing what doesn’t. Social media is here, I think we need to learn how we want to deal with it.

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    • That really is the point – to recognize what is useful and that one of the ways of dealing with it, is to not use it. I think my attitudes towards technology are starting to become more consistent. I’ve often explained to people that just because my phone rings, doesn’t mean I need to answer it. I’m very slow to respond to emails and texts. Perhaps it is the immediacy of it all – it just doesn’t fit into my tortoise-pace life.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m with you Michelle. Twitter (and other social media) can be so toxic. It’s not a pleasure but an assault I can live without. I only use Facebook, and I carefully edit my news feed so it’s 90% news about friends and family. And if the post is remotely controversial I *never* read the comments because that’s where the toxicity lives as you discovered. Addiction is not my problem – at least not to social media – now sugar, that’s a different matter 🙂
    Alison

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  11. Good post. It’s a relief to find somebody else who also doesn’t do Facebook and Twitter. Thankfully the “trolling” aspect is largely absent from WordPress, but I still have to ration it, otherwise I wouldn’t have any time for writing endeavours/research!
    Evangeline

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    • Hi Evangeline. For me, even blogging can be treacherous territory when it comes to writing – so easily distracted by it. But it does seem to have a slower pace, a more respectful community (and self-selecting), and is not as pressing in its immediacy. I think, for now, that is enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I never have really gotten into the social media sites, although I belong to three of them. I used to belong to Facebook but deleted my account–kind of, that is, because I can’t get prior data off of the site. I’m hoping the FBI investigation will result in me being about the remove my data. I just wrote a post about this and have it scheduled for tomorrow [Monday].

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    • We’ll have to see where that all goes with Facebook. I watched part of the hearings in Congress with Zuckerberg and what is most concerning is how our aging legislative body doesn’t actually understand the technology they are trying to legislate. This means that either legislation will have little meat on the bone or that outside interests will have undue influence. The generational gaps in technology are really telling right now.

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  13. I dislike Twitter. Even the name annoys me. Facebook I take or leave as I need to. I shut down my account a couple of times during the Presidential campaign. I think about shutting it down all the time but I do use it to share my blog posts and blast DT on a regular basis. Probably a waste of energy since I’m mostly singing to the choir but it’s become a bit of a compulsion. I have no family near and few local friends so it does keep me in touch with folks, but it’s not particularly satisfying.

    I think you are wise to avoid all of it Michelle. If you don’t find it useful or helpful, whats the point?

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    • I’m sure at some point, if I want to be published, I’ll have to get back in traffic, but for now, it seems more productive and mentally healthy to stick to my own lane. Even without the political environment, my behavior with these forms of media is compulsive, but politics have made it exponentially worse – where I’m constantly frothing at the mouth and not focused on the things I can control.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes. The last campaign did that to me too. I guess my conservative friends are long suffering ones. I try to keep it toned down now. It’s not likely to have any kind of positive result so why froth in public, lol.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: My Trip to Twitter Land — The Green Study – National Famely In Bangladesh.

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