Today marks three months since I stopped heavy duty tweeting on a regualr basis.
On December 26th I was one of New Zealand’s most frequent tweeters- it was often down to a few tweets here and there either way. I apparently had an average of 65-69 tweets a day.
Now… my blogs feed directly to my twitter feed, I pop on every now and again to ask a question, or to respond to someone, but it no longer is a habitual part of my day.
I have really enjoyed the changes in my life after dropping back from twitter. I didn’t leave in a huff, or out of frustration. In fact I didn’t really leave at all. I just changed how and why I use it.
Last year was pretty rough personally. And twitter had become a stressful place for me sometimes. Due to some ongoing bullying by one particular person (and later on, that person’s allies) it had become a place I had started to visit with a knot in my stomach. For a long time I felt if I just ignored it, the feelings would stop. What stopped the feelings was walking away from the place it was happening.
The catalyst for change wasn’t that however. It was sitting and trying to explain to someone who doens’t enjoy social media exactly what I was getting out of it – and realising most of my points no longer applied to me
Many friends I have today are people I met through social media. I think twitter and other social media sites are great for extending social networks – as long as the social life begins to be more face to face and less online. I feel I’ve got a very healthy and happy and diverse range of friends that are my friends outside of the twitter space. I enjoy connecting with them and not knowing the random thoughts of their day (because I’ve already read them)
I’m no longer so tied to my phone. My discovery that I have a large dose of introversion helped me see my concern at going to events wasn’t social anxiety, but was just Im made for groups where I already feel connected to a few people there. Before I used a phone to make it easy to disconnect with a crowd of people I was only small talking with. I now choose social events I really enjoy going to – and often leaving my phone behind…. or hidden away. I find other people constantly scrolling with me a huge distraction now- I’m enjoying with being more present in the moment with the people I’m actually with, and the pace of conversation has slowed – I don’t need to see everyone in the room.
I look back and see I often hopped on twitter for affirmation, approval, or hooking into an easy feedback loop. It’s tempting when self employed to use it as this. It’s tempting when lonely to use it as a quick and easy prop, when actually it might be a good idea to face some of those demons head on.
In the months before I stepped back I was getting frustrated at watching people have meltdowns and watch others either put them down and trash them, or help feed the behaviour. It burned to watch people not only bully me, but others, and watch people take sides – and make judgements on 140 character word statements I knew were untrue (this does not relate just to my personal life)
I noticed if I said a positive thing I might get one response, but if I vented there was far more feedback. As I move into a lifestyle that is more embedded in mindfulness, I started to feel as if this was counter intuitive to what I wanted to reflect and enjoy. I wanted positive feedback that did not enable crappy or rude behaviour, but sometimes challenged me. I feel I’m getting that as I move to slower, deeper, more “old fashioned” ways of interacting such as phone calls, dinners, letters.
I’ve got more time on my hands in a very busy year to create. I’m painting. I’m writing. I’m singing and I’m creating anywhere and everywhere. The time that I would have whiled away tweeting on a lazy Saturday I’m using to connect with my creativity, and also my family and loved ones.
I’m happier. I also notice sometimes I’m sadder. Or angrier, or lonelier, or feeling out of sorts. When I stepped back from twitter, I no longer used it as my mood fixer upper, and had to come face to face with my own feelings. I journal more (privately) or share things on a deeper level with a close network of friends I know well, as opposed to broadcasting it all out around me. It’s healthier.
I’m not making ANY judgements on anyone who uses twitter heavily. I reckon I still use Facebook too much, and I know social media served me really well for the space I was in. But I don’t miss it at all. I think I’m happier, more productive, settled and for me, stepping back was one of the best decisions I’d made in a long time.
I do wonder- does social media use feed our fear of being alone? Does it help us feel connected to a great consciousness, when we’ve lost our sense that what we experience is what others understand and experience too? And is it the best way to do that? Or is there a place for stepping back, as I have done, should we start to depend on it, and finding that the answers to our questions about ourselves and others are there, in front of us within the face to face relationships we already have in our lives.