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.