In which the Twitter addiction sinks its claws in

Last week I said good bye to Twitter for good. It’s been on the cards for about a year and a half; at one point I deleted the account and then signed back up about six months later. I’ve been on some sort of social media for the last… thirteen or fourteen years? Maybe a little bit more? and it’s taken this long for me to come to the conclusion that it’s just not for me. I don’t get any enjoyment out of it, I’ve never really been able to utilise it to boost my actual creative outlets (like this blog) and I can’t seem to use it in a healthy way. I’m either scrolling in a mindless, addictive way, or I’m getting furious at the garbage other people have posted. The last few years I’ve noticed it has a negative impact on my mental health – being signed up to one of those services and using it regularly creates a back ground anxiety buzz in my life that, really, no one needs. I haven’t used my account for about three or four months, except for occasional check-ins, so I decided it was time. Time for the final social media account I own to go the way of the dodo.

Since then it’s entirely been on my mind. It’s the strangest thing. I went weeks without thinking about it, and now it’s gone, it keeps bubbling up in my thoughts. ‘Hey, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter?’ ‘Hm, I’ve got a spare five minutes while the kettle boils and the tea brews; download the Twitter app and see what’s going on!’

Et tu, brain?

This happens nearly every time I delete an account, and I’m not sure if it’s a problem with me, that I’ve bought into the idea that living without social media means living in isolation, or whether it’s testament to the efficacy of social media’s addictive design. I’m hedging more towards the former; if it were Twitter’s design, I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from using it during those months of inactivity. If it’s me, it’s understandable the fear would kick in with the finality of deletion, rather than having the safety net of being able to check in with it when I want to. Fortunately for me, and I realise not everyone is in this boat, social media isn’t where I contact my friends, and not having an account doesn’t mean isolation at all.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll notice social media crops up as a topic every now and again. As I say, it’s been on my mind for over a decade – I think that’s what happens when your first introduction to it as a teenager is also the first time it becomes really mainstream. At that age, it seems like the norm, and peer pressure can be an effective mechanism for forcing people to adopt things, but you’re also old enough to remember a time when social media didn’t exist at all. That memory provided a foundation for doubt; I clearly remember a time before social media and life was fine, so is it really something that improves my life? Is it definitely a tool I want in my life?

It’s a topic I’ve been mulling for years, and I think it’s about high time I get it down in an essay[1], and really have an honest look at all the claims people make about social media – it’s detriments and benefits – and see whether there’s any weight to them. It’s also worth having an honest look at whether or not being on social media has a positive or negative impact on my life. It would be good to get really analytical about it; I can think of a few studies that call into question the orthodoxy that social media is always bad for your mental health, as well as some examples where social media has become a complete nightmare for our societies (outside of politics and general media literacy). Keep an eye out for that in the future.

Today was alright writing-wise: I didn’t get a whole scene of Halo of Flies complete, but managed a solid thousand or so words. This week, in addition to the usual Halo of Flies writing, I want to try and crank out the first draft of a dark fantasy story I’ll post to this very blog, called The Free Lance. I realised I don’t really post much fiction here, and that’s something I want to start doing. This week seems to be shaping up to be another busy one, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

[1] I’d love to do a video essay, I’ve got some cool ideas for entertaining graphics etc, but honestly, I’d have to learn a whole new set of skills to do that and buy a whole bunch of equipment, too, so it’ll probably be written!

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