I woke this morning to a notification from Twitter that today is my twelfth anniversary of setting up my first Twitter account. I’ll be honest: I was surprised.
It feels like it’s been a lot less than twelve years, but also like Twitter has been around forever. I mean, what did we do before Twitter? Lean out of the window and scream at the sky?
I’m trying to be more mindful when it comes to social media. What does that look like? Well, for the last few weeks have done a lot less mindless scrolling when bored. I try to avoid scrolling through my Twitter or Tumblr feed while I’m waiting for something and instead look up and check out what I’m missing. It might be nothing. It might be an invasion from Mars. I’ll never know if I’m drooling over photos of other people’s apartments and infinity pools…
I also read a lot less of what’s on LinkedIn as it seems to be morphing into a toxic combination of Facebook and a ‘guide to business’ by David Brent. No, I’m not interested what your four year old taught you over breakfast about the passion you feel for your customers. Nor that you wake at 4am to ‘get ahead’ of the competition. Not one little bit.
And, as for Facebook, not having it on my iPhone or iPads is the best decision I’ve made in quite some time. I realised that reading my timeline was bothering me quite a lot. It’s difficult when people you’re happy enough to be ‘connected’ to have rather less salubrious friends, colleagues and family members. You then see their comments, no matter how thick, uninformed or plain racist.
So, rather than de-friending anyone, right now I’m not looking at Facebook. At all. Simpler than dealing with the social minefield of defriending people, I’m not seeing anything on Facebook at all. I log in on my iMac, via a browser, to do work-related stuff (I manage a company page) once a week and that’s it.
I can honestly state that my mental health has improved now that I’m not looking at Facebook every day.
And what about Twitter?
Well, after twelve years of use I think on balance that’s it’s been a good thing for me. I enjoy the vast majority of interactions I have on Twitter, while also getting a lot of my breaking news. I’ve learnt a lot, laughed a lot and been sent down all kinds of interesting research avenues. I’m by no means insulated from stupidity and bigotry, but I find I’m more likely to see the culprits being called out for it and I simply swipe onwards, trying not to give it too much attention.
So social media is neither a plague or a panacea from my perspective. It’s about how you use it, or choose not to. Here’s to less screaming into the void at the idiots and much more quietly smiling as someone skilfully demonstrates their gentle wit.