Monday, 4 March 2019

Why I’m Leaving Twitter - Things Aint What They Used To Be….Or Are They?



I’ve had it with social media.  There is much debate about whether it is a force for good or not.  On balance I reckon it is not.  Apart from a two day trial I never did Facebook.  I had an Instagram account until recently but hardly used it so deleted it a month or so back.  After I have circulated this blog post via Twitter to my ‘followers’ I shall delete my Twitter account after seven years of pretty active use.  This piece explains why, not that anybody should be interested.  I will try not to turn it into a rant.  In it I will appear to criticise Twitter users ‘en masse’.  The criticisms will, in fact, not relate to many Twitter users as individuals.  And many of them will relate to me and my behaviours.  I’ll repeat that.  I am as guilty as many of some of the things I will moan about.

Twitter is not good for my mental health.  I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I easily get irritated.  I can brood on things and let them stew.  I do not suffer people whom I consider to be fools gladly.  I hate dishonesty, and have contempt for arguments which lack logic, or are based on false premises, or factual inaccuracy.  I despise those who see life in black and white terms (metaphorically and literally!), who cannot see that most things (I’m thinking politics here) have pros and cons.  These views and characteristics mean that Twitter is not a good place for me.

Twitter is lowering my opinion of my fellow man.  That’s people in general as opposed to individuals.  Perhaps the human race has always displayed the characteristics I dislike which I’ve mentioned above, and that social media is merely making them more obvious.  I suspect not, however.  When our interaction with our fellow human beings was mainly face-to-face we could have more nuanced communications.  We would explain our point of view and hear others more courteously.  280 characters rarely allows justice to be done to anything other than the banal.  How often have you read a Tweet and thought that the writer would never say that, or use those words, if they were sitting with the recipient down at the pub?  Twitter debates can be like road rage.  People act in ways that they wouldn’t dream of doing if they were not in their own little metal, or cyber, bubble.  The fact that so many post anonymously is particularly pernicious and allows greater levels of rudeness and unpleasant behaviour.

Connected with this is the polarisation that Twitter brings.  The best examples are, of course, the debates and Tweets about politics as exemplified by Brexit (in the UK) or Trump (in the USA and in the UK).  Thus, we read so frequently that all Tory MPs are heartless, they are all upper class fascists, and they want the poor to become poorer.  At the same time, thousands of others are implying that Labour MPs are thick, simply envious and jealous of success, that they believe in magic money trees and think that Stalin was a bloody good chap.  As for Brexit?  How often does anybody admit that the EU has pros and cons, that there are some  good arguments for leaving and some good arguments for remaining; or that the referendum campaign was filled with lies and distortions and predictions that turned out to be hopelessly wrong - from both sides?  When did you last read a Tweet about politics that said “On balance I believe….”?

With my personality traits all the above just winds me up, makes me cross and depressed by what I consider the illogicality, dishonesty or stupidity of others.  No doubt people who have read my Tweets have often thought the same about me.

Twitter does have good points.  It has helped me keep in touch easily with a large number of friends, many of whom I know personally, and others met, and only known through Twitter.  It does provide useful links to interesting articles and blogs and the like.  Oh, and some great cat and dog videos.  However, much of this is shallow and superficial.  When you realise that you have just spent ten minutes, as I did the other day, reading a thread about whether the rock band Queen really was British, and inwardly sneering or cheering at the views on the thread, you know it’s time to go and get on with having a proper life.  Further, when people you really like whenever you meet them in person are adding to your depression with their Tweets then it’s time to go.

Some readers of this who have followed me on Twitter may remember that I love writing real letters to friends, ideally with a beautiful fountain pen on quality notepaper.  This is time consuming.  But so is Twitter.  However, it is also infinitely more satisfying, and a far better way to communicate, despite, or possibly because of the effort involved, the time it takes, the thought that must go into it and the cost of the stamp.  E-mail, of course, is also superb for keeping in touch and blog posts can allow more thought, better prose and are a great vehicle for sharing or learning.  I’ll miss Twitter but I shall survive without it.  I am, however, wondering if there is the equivalent of the nicotine patch for someone who has decided to give up?

Do keep in touch if you wish.  Many readers (assuming this post will have readers) have my e-mail address; if not this Blog does have a linky thing allowing you to contact me should you have the need or desire to send me a message.  And, as ever, comments on what I have written above are welcome.


26 comments:

  1. David, I agree with most what you've said so can understand your decision. I find Twitter irritatingly addictive and can easily get cross with myself for falling for it, but I still succumb. I don't have the answer. I maybe don't have your strength.
    I'm pleased to count you as a friend and glad we have other ways to keep in touch.
    Be good to yourself.

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    1. Hi Geoff. Thanks for the comments and, as ever, your support. The feelings are mutual.

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  2. I totally agree with you David and have nearly walked away from twitter several times. I will also add another problem with it, which I have been on the receiving end of. Folk who enjoy 'making fun of' people and who gang together to deliberately target people, getting a kick out of the upset they cause. Twitter is an absolutely perfect platform for this kind of behaviour.
    I have eventually stopped myself from leaving because of the genuine, caring friendships I have made (and I include you in that category xxx) but these days I strive to keep everything light and 'walk' away from potential conflict. And anyone bullying in any way is instantly blocked.
    I shall continue to badger you in WhatsApp.... 😘

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    1. Hi Chrissie. Agreed. There is a fine line between banter and unpleasant trolling. As I hinted in my post this sort of problem is made worse as there are no visual cues to help understand what is being tweeted. I'm sure many of us have caused offence on Twitter when it has not been intended.

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  3. Hi David, it’s a choice you have, and you decide. Like watching tv if you don’t like it switch it off. It’s not compulsory. I will miss you for one and I hope that my little wind ups have not added to your reason to leave. Meet you on the trail one day again, I hope. 👍

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    1. Thanks Alan. Your metaphor is apt - and, indeed, I watch very little television these days - some evenings none at all. I avoid almost all violent dramas (except Peaky Blinders, obviously), all soaps, all police and hospital type things, all reality shows, all house moving shows and so on. There is very little left after that apart from The Chase, Mastermind and University Challenge.

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  4. See you soon sir.
    Social Media per-se is inundated with the uneducated and fact free.
    It's like car road rage.
    Easy to rant on..
    I am as guilty as the next man.
    Although I do try and tinge most of my comments with inane comedy.

    Back to email and the glorious might of the Fountain pen for us then.

    Oh.. One thing..

    Don't stop the blog
    I need a bit of amusing and entertain internet reading..

    Meantime..
    See if you can sort out some decent Daunder weather.. 🙂

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    1. Hi Andy. See you in just over a month. The sunshine is booked, although I haven't put a deposit down. i'm not that silly.

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  5. I do agree with this, but keep on twittering for the people who make me feel more positive about life on a daily basis. As a very solitary person, a little Twitter can represent a adequate chunk of social contact for a day, always with the option to walk away. Very glad that your last tweet has led me to your blog; look forward to following you more largely.

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    1. Hi WM. I can empathise and I think Twitter has been something of a social crutch for me recently as my wife has been working away from home and I am on my own most of the week. In addition, I hate using the telephone and find it a most awkward medium - always have. However, I find the process of writing real letters is helpful for some reason - it seems to reduce the feeling of isolation. And the dog hears an awful lot from me too. Although I suspect he is pretty fed up with some of my rants about the likes of population growth, inept politicians and the like.

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  6. Funnily enough ten years ago I had similar thoughts. You can read them if you like HERE

    At the beginning of this year I too decided to quit Twitter, but decided to just visit it less frequently. After all, the world needs people like us - otherwise rational thought would be completely overwhelmed by unintelligible Yahoos.😉

    See how you feel after the 4 week period, before it's gone for good.

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    1. Interesting thoughts from David and Phil. For me, it's not the arguing or sniping which causes a problem. It's the wasted time, and also the growing narcissism of needing to see my comment in print. (The irony of making this remark in a blog comment is not lost on me!). I've now gone cold turkey on Twitter. I hope your social interactions are more rewarding without the constant nagging annoyance of that little blue bird.

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    2. Hi Phil

      I've read your blog post and you were clearly a man well ahead of his time in 2009 (and may still be!). It expresses many thoughts that I have but your were almost 10 years ahead of me in expressing them publicly, and you also did it far more eloquently.

      I have now deactivated my Twitter account. Will it get reactivated within the 30 days that Twitter allow before it is consigned into the cyber equivalent of landfill? No idea. However, one thing did not occur to me when I decided to delete it. Having written two blog posts since that decision I have become more conscious that Twitter was the main vehicle for driving traffic to this blog - whenever I posted I always then shared on Twitter where I had 1000+ followers rather than just 40 who follow this blog direct. So unless kind readers share any post I make they will hardly be seen, which would make the effort of writing them far less worthwhile - if it is indeed worthwhile.

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    3. Hi Judith

      Thanks for the interesting comment. Cold turkey is a good description. Over the last 24 hours I have kept thinking of things to tweet, often triggered by news items or things I have just read. And then, fortunately, a thought comes into my head. "Why on earth would anyone want to know my opinions on x, y or z?" If the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary or the Education Secretary were reading my tweets there might have been some value in them. But I think that on balance they were not. However, this may mean I am now storing up my opinions and they will need to be allowed to escape to stop my head exploding - so watch out on the Pre-Walk Daunder or I may start to declaim my theories about everything.

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  7. That's a shame David. I will miss your tweets. I completely understand your reasons and can sympathise though. As you rightly point out, twitter is not the place for political debate and as such, I try (not always successfully) to avoid political tweets and skip right past them on my timeline. To me, twitter should be light hearted and playful, a place to engage with like minded folk regarding hobbies and social pastimes. Fun things! To dip into and out of whenever it suits and not become daily routine or chore. Anyway, like I said, easier said than done. Please don't stop the blogging though. In fact, you now might have time for more blog posts ! ;-)

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    1. Thanks Steve. I plan to continue blogging, irregular though I am at it. However, if posts do not get many hits, and the readership may well decline significantly when I do not share posts on Twitter, then I will need to decide if it is fulfilling any function.

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  8. Ah. Yes... I can see why one might be drawn to come to this decision. I'm an out and out social media slave and it loses me much time. Hope to see you in real life in May, David.

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    1. That's a massive thing, Carl. Twitter is a real time waster. It's not so much checking your timeline per se - although that can become addictive - it's being drawn from one thread to another as you notice a response to one of your follower's tweets, and then move on to read responses to responses until you realise that you're reading the views of a woman in Arizona who is convinced that the Russians are interfering in the election for her local county sheriff.

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  9. Hi David,

    I'm sorry to see you go - in spite of what you say, I think your tweets were as nuanced as 280 characters allow.

    I still like twitter for information dissemination and get useful reading from tweets but I gave up a while ago on having conversations about complex topics such as politics, the environment, etc. I spent more than 20 years trying to convince people that the world is a complex place and that there are no simple solutions to complex problems. As you say, Twitter encourages the opposite - populist, simplistic comments that tend to antagonise rather than inform.

    I hope your TGOC goes well - I am sorry to miss it this year. Unfortunately, we have been invited to a wedding bang in the middle of the Challenge and my wife (inexplicably, as I am by nature anti-social) insists that I go with her. Hopefully, back next year.

    Please keep on blogging,

    Cheers,

    Ian

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    1. Thanks Ian. After 36 hours off Twitter I'd encourage everyone to try, simply to understand how dangerously addictive it is - I'm finding that there are definite withdrawal symptoms. This is quite eye-opening.

      Enjoy the wedding, if that is at all possible. I know I wouldn't.

      As for the Challenge? I may see you in 2020. Although I'm already wondering why I'm doing it in 2019. How about a meet sometime for a walk or overnighter in the Lakes?

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  10. I've never subscribed to either Twitter or Facebook; I'm a fairly new user to Instagram but only in a very low-key manner.

    I had a couple of now former work colleagues who were Twitter users and who showed me their 'feeds' (I think that was the term they used) and found them interesting but for contrasting reasons.

    One of them had a tightly monitored, access by appointment only, arrangement and just seemed to have surrounded himself with (both following and being followed by) others who pretty much shared his views and opinions on just about everything. So it seemed to be an exercise in a tightly-knit group constantly reaffirming what they already believed. But - at least from what I saw - it was all very measured and polite.

    The other one - female, as it happens - was at completely the opposite end of the spectrum: open house, uncensored, a complete free-for-all. The level of trolling and abuse was absolutely staggering, including threats and other stuff which would have got the culprits arrested if they'd ever taken it off board. She just didn't want to be bothered setting up and monitoring a more controlled Twitter feed, and also had a preference for a more 'open house' approach. In the end just got tired of it all and deleted her account.

    As an insight both of them, in their different ways, put me off Twitter.

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    1. Hello Dave

      Thanks for your comment. I'm sure that Twitter often involves the things you describe. We all like to have our own views validated by others who think similarly and there is a tendency for 'group think' mentality. I am as guilty as the next person.

      Rudeness and trolling is inexcusable - although it is interesting that I have seen many Twitter users accuse others of trolling when they have received perfectly courteous tweets that merely disagree with their own standpoint.

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  11. Excellent post, and superb comments too.

    I have never 'done' Twitter, or FB or IG either, but I have seen what can happen when the "mob mentality" gets going and I want no part of these vehicles for anti-social behaviour.

    On the other hand, I've been quietly blogging for over a decade. No product endorsements or sponsored posts, just quiet ramblings of an old woman 😉 I blog purely for myself. A couple of weeks ago we unexpectedly lost our beloved dog - the child I never had - and the support I have had from the friends in my blogging community has been unparalleled. People I know IRL haven't bothered to get in touch, but I've had emails and calls from amazing folk who really care.

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  12. Thanks Jayne.

    I am so sorry to hear that you have lost your dog. I suspect the responses you did or did not receive may have been more connected to whether others are dog owners or not. I think that only people who have owned a dog can fully understand the sadness at losing one.

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  13. David, I fully agree with you, the way social media has gone today they set about playing with your mind.
    We haven't conversed much though I have read many of your tweets, particularly when you've been chatting to Geoff and Chrissie.
    You may be aware back in February 2015 I was victim to a hit and run which resulted in major leg reconstruction.
    As a result I too have been fighting the demons and I still am today. Things came to a head with me and I had to come away from Twitter for a while to save what little sanity I have left.
    Basically what I'm saying is,I sympathise with you, I don't judge and fully understand your feelings, for I almost deleted my Twitter account along with some other things.
    Unfortunately the damage to my leg was so extensive I'll not be back to the hills in the capacity I enjoyed, but I do enjoy seeing the photos and hearing of my friends exploits.
    Hopefully I'll get back out one day as a sensibly safe disabled walker, in the interim I'll continue with my wildlife photography at local reserves.
    If we don't speak again David, it has been a pleasure to know you and I wish you all the very best whatever you do.
    All the very best, Mike

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