I made a decision recently. I realised during a conversation with frolleague Zac Gribble that I wasn’t going to get any better while Twitter was a major presence in my life.

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.

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

4 replies on “Rebalancing”

Well said young Chris – hope you’re ok…I sympathise as a fellow [alleged] tech-head. I feel like I’ve done my bit now, no-one’s interested in what I have to say [plus I sometimes think I’ve been saying the same thing for nearly 30 years and we’re no further forward..] so it’s time to turn them all off go outside, have a good shout then come back get your respective instrument out…!

Thanks Simon. From a tech point of view it feels like a move in the wrong direction but from a personal one, in all its complexity, it’s a no-brainer. One of the hardest things to overcome over the last few weeks has been “the reach”; those seconds of momentary boredom where, before you realise it, your hand has started going for the phone.

Thanks for commenting. It’s a tech-tradition I’d like to see come back in fashion in 2020. 🙂

It always saddens me a little when people I respect leave the platforms I engage with, because that platform becomes a little less useful. As remote workers, I sometimes feel that we are more vulnerable than most when it comes to these platforms in order to reach out to others. Whether that’s for professional development or simply just to have a bit of a banter with a friendly face.

Having said that though, I absolutely respect people’s personal choice to do what is right for them.

Chris – all I ask is that you don’t start contacting us on SnapChat. We’re just too old 😉

I completely take that point, Scott. It’s likely I’m not going to withdraw 100% but end up with a more broadcast-y approach which means it’s easier for me to dip in and out. I just know what I’m like. Going cold turkey for a bit makes it easier to re-engage on my own terms later.

I agree with you about a platform’s value being dependent on the people using it. It was something I thought about but in the end I felt that to do all the things I felt I needed to focus on to do/be the things I value I couldn’t manage while participating on Twitter the way I was. (Ha! That’s a terrible sentence!)

By the way, thanks for commenting. I’m going to try and read and comment on other people’s blogs more.

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