Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why I Left Twitter

It was one of the most difficult decisions I've made in a long time.

Then again, it wasn't so tough.

There are a lot of great people with whom I'm going to lose touch. There are some news sources that are cut off. I won't be as connected. I'm going to miss a lot. I made a lot of friends on Twitter, some who I've met and have come to be important to me.

I can't say that making the decision to leave Twitter was something that I've thought of doing for a long time. It was something that came in to my head, in the wee hours of the morning, as I was fuming over the fact that I couldn't sleep. In less than 30 minutes after toying with the idea of cutting my ties, it was done.

"Fuck it. Goodbye."

Three words, written not in anger, not in defiance, but in a sort of surrender.

I'm a FOMO sufferer. I feel that I have to know as much as possible and that I have to be a part of what is going on in my community, be it my neighbourhood, at work, at home, and on social media. But social media is incredibly huge, and the fear of missing out can become all consuming.

Twitter is a massive delivery system for information, and the FOMO can weigh heavily. And, for me, I felt that I needed to weigh in as much as possible, to let people know that I exist, that I am here. Look at me... look at me.

When I went out, I felt I needed to share where I was. When I was listening to music, to a particular song that moved me for whatever reason, I shared it. When I opened a bottle of beer or dug into a delicious meal, I had to let the Twitterverse know. If I had an opinion about anything, I needed to tweet it out.

Honestly, who gives a shit?

So, the other night, as I lay in bed and brooded about it, I was tempted to do something that I've done many times: pick up my phone, get on to Twitter, and let my followers know that I was awake and couldn't sleep.

A great friend of mine once told me that if someone didn't know me—didn't really know me as he did—he or she could read my tweets and think two things: I'm sick often and I'm an alcoholic.

That certainly isn't who I am or who I want my Twitter friends to think. If anything, I hoped that people saw me as a nice guy with a funny but twisted sense of humour who cares about his community.

Lying in bed, thinking about Twitter, and about sharing my insomnia, I realized that this social media has begun defining me in a troubling way. My life seemed so integrated with this app that I was stressing over the FOMO and the need to share every facet of my life.

I needed to stop.

I began thinking of what a life without Twitter would mean. There were a lot of people that I would miss. There is a lot of news that is relevant to living in Ottawa that would be missed. There are some great photographers that share their wonderful work, and I wouldn't see it.

I used to stress over not publishing a blog post every Monday to Friday. When I took a hiatus, that stress abated. When I returned to blogging, I didn't worry so much about when I posted, and a lot of my stress disappeared.

And so, I got out of bed, went downstairs to my computer. I went to my Twitter settings and deleted my account. Twitter warned me that it would make my account accessible for 30 days, but after that, everything would be gone.

They want you to be sure you're doing the right thing.

I clicked the Delete button, turned off my computer, and went back to bed.

And fell into a deep, restful sleep.

In the morning, I uninstalled Twitter and Hootsuite from my smartphone. For the first couple of hours, yesterday, I felt a bit disoriented, lost. I wanted to share that I had a guy from pest control fixing cages to keep squirrels from getting into my house.

Who cares?

I have more to lose in what I read on Twitter than what my followers read from me. To my more than 1,200 followers, I thank you for thinking that what I tweeted had any value. And while my Twitter account is closed, it's not the end of all social media outlets. You can follow me on Instagram or Untappd. If you use Strava for cycling, running, or swimming, you can find me there. And, if you want to just reach out, there is always the Comments section of this blog.

If you want to see my photos, I'm on Flickr and 500px.

And, there's always LinkedIn, though I use that site less often.

You see? My footprint is still pretty large. 

If you're in Ottawa, I can still be found at various writing and beer events, and I'm not planning to abandon Thursday Pints. I'll see you around

It was a tough, spontaneous decision that I've made. Over the next 30 days, we'll see how tough it really was.

Almost six years on Twitter. With three words, it's over.

1 comment:

  1. For me, the more people I followed, the harder it was to keep track of everything. I spent most of my spare minutes trying to keep up. I went on a trip or something and didn't use Twitter at all in that time, and realized that I didn't miss it a whole lot. Since then, I haven't used it nearly as religiously as I did, and I don't fear missing out too much... though I find the feed is harder to follow in their more recent updates. More Facebook-y, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

    I hope your respit serves you well :)