A couple of years back I made the fateful decision to delete my Facebook account. Though I said goodbye to some 700 friends, it was a step I did not regret. It felt quite liberating, actually. Not being on Facebook has not had a significant impact on my life. And really, on those occasions that I do shoulder surf someone's Facebook timeline, I think my IQ goes down a few points.
Twitter eventually took Facebook's place as my social network of choice. Twitter seemed less intrusive than Facebook, not too many photos on the feed and not so many ads, either. The 140 character limit acted as a filter to allow only pithy posts, or so it seemed. I was happy with Twitter.
However, the Twitter I see now is not the Twitter of before. It's beginning to feel like Facebook all over again: crowded, noisy, and intelligence-diminishing. There are more and more photos cropping up on the feed, though thank goodness not yet full blown albums. And the ads! The ads are ever-present now, always at the top of the stream! There's not even a way to control what I want to see.
And what of the 140 character limit? Pith has given way to sap and snark. Just look at the most often regurgitated tweets.
But ultimately, the problem is with me. On examination, I have found that I check Twitter far too often and far too much. I guess that's the nature of successful social networking: it acts like a drug and its users are addicts. The time that I could be reading or writing I am instead using to gloss over other people's thoughts or worse, seeking validation through that Favorite or Retweet.
All those tweets that I'm complaining about reading from other people? Yup, I'm guilty of them, too. Twitter has become a mirror, and I'm starting not to like what I see.
Unlike my Facebook experience where I stopped cold turkey, this is going to be more of a controlled withdrawal. For all its faults, Twitter still has its uses (as does Facebook, I must admit, but I'm not going back.) Twitter is a convenient way for people to reach me, and vice versa, so the Twitter account will remain active. But I'll be limiting my Twitter usage from hereon, just once a day and only to check for messages directed to me.
My exit strategy is to limit Twitter to only one device which I leave at home. On all my other gadgets I have uninstalled Twitter and logged out of browser accounts. The trick is to make it inconvenient for myself to access the service.
Where does that leave me as far as social networking is concerned? As far as my footprint is concerned, there's Google+ and LinkedIn, both of which I check seldom. My Instagram, Tumblr, and WordPress have been long abandoned. There's just my blog, which has only very few readers. So in sum: not very much.
I am on my way to becoming a digital hermit. I think I like it that way.