Well, I finally did it. I deleted my Twitter account. And of course, anytime a blogger deletes a social media account, they need to write a think piece about it. It’s in the terms and conditions.
I had been a Twitter user for a long time after first joining to chat with other AV Club commenters. I used a pseudonym at first, and then a few more after that as I followed the time-honored tradition of getting exasperated with Twitter, deleting my account, and then creating a new one a week later. This time I’m not creating a new one a week later, though. I promise.
I had been tweeting under my own name for years, first with the intention of promoting my writing and then also to promote my stand-up comedy. If I’m being honest about it, though, the amount of attention my Twitter account drove to either of those things was next to none. It was still fun for a while, though, and there are certainly many people whose Twitter presence I enjoyed.
But then Trump happened.
Trump was known for his morally reprehensible tweets long before he ran for president, but the fact that those morally reprehensible tweets were part of what won him the election… that’s a hard pill to swallow. And ever since he was elected, my Twitter feed had become an endless stream of (totally justified) outrage about the latest awful thing he had done or said. It’s an echo chamber where people follow the tweets of other like-minded people and only poke their heads outside their own bubbles to make known their disdain for someone expressing an opinion not in line with their own. The post-election echoes became so loud they were deafening.
I’ve increasingly come to feel that the creation of those bubbles is part of why we’re in the situation we’re in today. When everyone you surround yourself with has opinions similar to your own, it’s hard to see something coming like a totally immoral and incompetent garbage monster getting elected president, because you’ve selectively filtered what viewpoints you’re exposed to. Outside of Twitter and other social media, I’m likely to encounter all sorts of opinions and viewpoints counter to my own. Some of them may be from people I respect, so I’m more likely to seriously consider their arguments. Some of them may be from people I don’t respect at all, but at least I would have the opportunity to hear their awful opinions.
Ultimately, though, the decision came down to being a simple mental health issue. Seeing a constant stream of everything going wrong in the world is not healthy for my brain, and it’s not healthy for anyone’s brain. I would find myself checking Twitter and immediately feeling a sense of despair as I saw tweet after tweet about the latest injustice that had occurred. It’s not that I want to stick my head in the sand and not know about those injustices. I still have an RSS news feed, and I see plenty of bad news on there. When I read a news article, though, I can at least move on with my day afterward rather than spend the next few hours reading outraged reactions to it. I’m perfectly capable of being outraged on my own without the help of others.
I’m writing this as a way to hold myself accountable, so if you see me back on Twitter tomorrow, please feel free to give me the shaming I deserve. I’m not trying to talk anyone else into deleting their accounts, either, as if it’s any sort of fix for society’s problems. It’s not. We’re all too invested in social media to turn back at this point. It’s just me being tired of the anxiety it caused me and wanting to get better. Also, I needed more time to spend looking at cat pictures on Instagram.