Friday, May 01, 2015

Social Networking Recluse

I think I may have finally quit Twitter. It turned out to be easier and less painful than I first thought. The trick was simple. Over time, my use of Twitter had moved almost exclusively to my mobile devices. So I uninstalled the Twitter app from all of them, except one which I left at home to play my music. If I felt the urge to check my Twitter feed, I would have to reinstall the app, and that was a hassle I didn't want to bother with, and so I'd do something else instead. Kill your addiction by making it inconvenient, basically.

Twitter was my last real link to the social networking world. I had deleted my Facebook account five years ago. I played around with Google+ for a while but after Facebook it just didn't have the same level of appeal. I turned off Instagram because it seemed to be all about nail art and fashion. I still a LinkedIn account but I hardly ever check it. Now I am finally a social networking recluse.

Just why is it so important for me to be social networking-free? There were the disturbing signs of an addiction, that constant urge to see what was going on with the world and to announce to the world what was going on with me. I would have to fight off some slight disappointment if a post that I thought was clever didn't get retweeted or liked. Finally, there was that sense of obligation to follow an acquaintance who had just followed me, even though I didn't particularly care for what they shared. Social networking was impinging on my mental health.

Social networking was also beginning to feel a lot like work. Why exactly was I posting pictures and commentary to populate Twitter's growing cachet of media resources to keep forever and ever? I wasn't getting paid. And by the same reasoning, why was I bothering to keep up with all the minutiae of people's lives? I wasn't getting paid for that either. It was just taking up brain cycles better used elsewhere.

With Twitter gone, I feel the same sense of liberation that I did when I got out of Facebook. The compulsions are gone and my friends' lives no longer haunt my day. If I need to know something, I'll go look for it myself. If people have to communicate with me, there's always email. Email is a hassle to use, yes, but that means the message must be somewhat important because somebody had to take the trouble.

The greatest boon to quitting social networking is the time recovered. Looking back, I would be checking Twitter at least ten times a day. Let's say I average five minutes per session, that means I'm spending up to an hour the entire day on Twitter's stream. That hour I've regained I am now putting to better use learning a new language, reading, or exercising.