I’ve been on Twitter since 2008 and it’s been the central plank of my online engagement since then.
This isn’t to do with getting abuse from people, or any objections to the platform for ethical reasons (which is why I gave up using Facebook and Twitter, you’re no saint!). It’s all to do with my chronic fatigue and general wellbeing.
Twitter hasn’t been helping.
Chronic fatigue’s been a funny thing to have as I’m largely unable to say what it is, where it came from and why I’m not better than I was a few years ago despite doing, I think, most of the right things.
Did Brexit give me ME?
No. Brexit didn’t cause my CFS, but the timing is interesting. Our political situation and my illness have a weird connection that I need to pay attention to.
On December 13th we got a new government. I’m not sure I was much invested in the side that lost, but I definitely know that the “wrong side” won from my point of view. My conversation with Zac happened a few days before this and we kind of knew what was going to happen and were despondent but philosophical about it.
At the time I imagined what it would be like reading the news and looking at Twitter on Friday knowing it was all just going to be either the same thing as we’d had since 2016 or considerably worse.
Broadly speaking, my Twitter universe is the Remainer, social democratic, green bubble and since about 2016 this has made it a constant stream of anxiety, despair, fury and occasionally hope. And it’s been exhausting.
I soak up other people’s emotions like a sponge. Some people can isolate themselves from that. I realise I can not. Opening up my Twitter feed has been like having a river pouring unresolvable tension into my life and I have to stop it
Have I stopped caring about things or think them unimportant now? Of course not, I’m still me. I’m still bewildered and furious that we live in a country where the far right has been vindicated and misinformation and lying is mainstream.
But the fact is that my resources are limited and I need to narrow my attention onto stuff I know I can control and not expend energy shouting into the void. As I talked about with a counselor this year, my focus needs to shift from the “out there” to the things in the here and now.
The new normal?
So since Friday 13th December, I haven’t so much as looked at Twitter or even any news sites (except for things like reviews of the Rise of Skywalker).
It feels peculiar. It’s remarkable how much of a physical habit it has been reaching for my phone in quiet moments to check the feed. For now that’s been replaced with Wordscapes but I’m also rediscovering the piano, reading more but also having the space to be bored and letting my mind wonder.
It feels liberating, so for now Twitter is for broadcast only.
Why this probably isn’t a great idea
Tech is my job. Having an active social presence has been important to me in my development and my place in the communities I practice in.
Withdrawing from that puts me at a disadvantage and risks lessening what little influence I have on the world.
But how much influence? Really? I think it’s entirely possible to do my job and grow as a professional without an active Twitter presence. I’d say that the majority of people we support and work with seem to manage pretty well without it.
Does my withdrawal from some online spaces mean that I’m less able to support other people in that practice? No, I don’t think so. I’d advise anybody interested in using technology to do so as a matter of choice where refusal to engage is as valid as the opposite where there’s good reason behind it. That’s all I’m doing.
Yes there are benefits to being digitally present but I need to balance these with retaining the energy to do the important stuff in the first place.
So what exactly?
I don’t think this is a big deal, really. It just feels that way at the moment.
And I also acknowledge that this has privilege written all over it. I can disengage without much personal risk because I’m probably going to be OK. Like it or not, this Tory government isn’t as likely to harm me or my family’s outlook in the short term as it is for those who don’t have the benefit of being in my cosy demographic.
I’m not proud of it, but right now I need to draw down on a bit of that privilege. Forgive me for the ego-centrism.
So, for now, I’ll concentrate on the things that help me to be a better father, husband, friend, manager and employee.
Also more playing, blogging, reading and talking.