Bye Felicia: A Farewell to Twitter
I just deactivated my Twitter account, and I’m already a little twitchy.
I’ve had it for more than 8 years. It’s older than my marriage. It was there through several relocations, job changes, and my entire PhD program. You could say I’m feeling a bit sentimental.
That said, I recognize that sentiment is all I have when it comes to Twitter. It became a habit and a time-wasting one at that. This soul sabbatical shined a light on a few areas of my day that I’d like to clean up and one is any activity in which I engage that, as the yogis say, “no longer serves” me. Twitter was such.
Allow me to explain…
I lost my voice
Unless you’re on a private account just for friends and family, your only niche on Twitter is establishing a brand, finding your voice, and being consistent in your message. I had all those things starting out and maintained them well into my doctoral program. However, once I graduated I was set adrift. #AcademicTwitter and #PhDChat are great forums, but without secure employment and a tangible research agenda, I had nothing to contribute. I found myself textually wallowing in the lamentations of the part-time professorate. The adjunctification of higher education is a very unpopular topic, but it’s all I could tweet about. Not to mention that it only fed into the very thing I was trying to avoid… identifying myself with my career. In all that, my voice chocked out.
Community in real life > Community online
Gen Z and Millennials may disagree with this old fart of a Gen Xer, but it’s true. The more I engaged with people online, the more I realized I was looking for something I already had in real life. I like the friends that I can see and hug. I like mentors I can call on the phone as opposed to strangers on a screen. The validation and support I needed, I already had. And it required no wifi.
I started thinking in memes
That alone deserves a “delete your account.”
I’m digitally lazy
True social media management—the kind that results in followers and influence—takes time and effort. I know this, because I used to do this for a living. I don’t have the energy to spare any more to maintain an internet persona. I’m too authentic… and the authentic me takes long breaks from posting content (as evidenced by this blog), is dreadfully moody, and is too old to care about trends.
I cannot unsee that
The “feed” is a dangerous playground. It doesn’t care what kind of day you’re having or the mood you’re in. If you just got your 10th rejection letter, it will show you a parade of strangers with new jobs. If you’re happy, it’s got a cure for that too. Trending topics will reveal your favorite actor is an anti-Semite or your least favorite president is throwing another Twitter tantrum. Actively muting other accounts you find annoying just means others will pop up. Worst of all, gross, ultra-violent, and otherwise disturbing images and video show up. One minute you’re enjoying your morning coffee watching kittens, the next, oh, a gang of teenagers beating up a homeless man. Sigh. I’m not saying I need constant trigger warnings. I just believe I need to be at least somewhat in control of what I see, because some of that stuff can’t be erased from the mind.
The myth of FOMO
Twitter gives the illusion that you’re in the know. That’s true and it’s not. You’re getting a lot of information. However, no matter how much you consume, FOMO is inevitable. If you’re alive, you’re missing out on something. You can’t know everything. You can’t be involved in every conversation. Personally, I don’t want to be. I’m hitting a point in my life where being the first to know something is just not that important any more.
Notice this list is not a “Reasons You Should Quit Twitter.” Lots of people use it and enjoy it. To them, I say, Godspeed. As for me, I’m going to keep pruning my socially mediated existence. I have little hope that this will transform me into an enlightened being, but I do think I can at least get better acquainted with the person I already am—in real life.