Derek Tillotson

On Twitter

I spent the second half of 2019 not looking at social media. Or at least I rarely looked at it. I still glanced at Reddit once in a while, either looking for an answer to a question or to look at news within a specific niche, like pro wrestling or ukuleles. And I still had my Twitter feed. I would tweet a couple times a week, send/receive direct messages, not really look at the timeline, and sometimes check my notficiations.

But Twitter is a recurring problem.

I like Twitter. It's been important to me in many ways. It's helped me get opportunities, make friends, and discover experiences. But as social media platforms are for most people, Twitter provides me with a lot of negatives:

  1. It wastes time. Nearly everything you see on social media is a waste. Memes, complaining, pictures, self-promotion, advertising. Does any of that stuff benefit me? I can't say that it does.
  2. It breeds negativity. Everyone has an opinion, and on social media, damn near everyone believes their's is the only one that matters and if you disagree with any of it, you might be a terrible person. It's draining. And I've found that when I'm disengaged from social media, I'm about 25% happier, which isn't negligible.
  3. It's distracting. I suppose that's kind of similar to wasting time. The difference is that instead of just wasting time that would be better off doing something else, it's taking me away from something I'm actively trying to do. Social media (and many pieces of modern tech) are built to be addictive. You're supposed to come back, looking for another hit, even at inconvenient times.
  4. There's no order. I'm often uncomfortable in large groups. Not always uncomfortable, but often. I've learned that the kinds of groups that fuel my discomfort are parties, conventions, or other large meetups where there are many people but minimal organization. Social media services, especially ones as open as Twitter, give me that same feeling.

I've had my Twitter account for over a decade. I've tweeted tens of thousands of times (I deleted many of them in 2019). I can confidently say that most of those Tweets were of no value. Yet, a small percentage delivered. I scored a writing gig because of a Tweet. I've been on podcasts, in part because of my Twitter presence. I've made friends that way, too.

But one thing 2019 taught me is that less it best, when it comes to social media. It's a tool, not a hobby, and my focus now is to treat it as such.

Written January 25, 2020


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