Over the course of the past few weeks I had come to realize how toxic social media had become. The elections had a lot to do with it, yes, but it went beyond that. I was spending an inordinate amount of time — unproductive time — stealing those little moments to glance at my feeds. And to think that I had forsworn Facebook and all I really had to deal with was Twitter. How much worse might it have been if I were still subscribed to Zuckerberg’s baby?
The elections were a good time to prune my follow list on Twitter. I dropped many of my former students and co-faculty from my list. Was it over a difference in opinion? It was more than that. Many had succumbed to the mean-spirited pettiness common among adherents of A Certain Candidate. That prompted me to examine why I was holding on to these virtual relationships when in real life we had nothing much in common anymore. Perhaps nostalgia.
So from following 260 people I cut it down to 180. I’m really just keeping track of science, technology, and business news on Twitter now, plus a few comic-oriented friends. And Mark Hamill, because he’s supremely entertaining.
And yet even then, I found a certain dissatisfaction, even distaste, with social media. Last Lent, I went on a Twitter fast and found life to be much more fulfilling. I’ve decided to go back to avoiding all forms of social media. I logged out of Twitter on all my computers and browsers and I cleared my histories. I could still go back, I know, but putting it several steps removed gives me pause whenever I feel the impulse.
Well, so far so good.