Over a year ago, I wrote a confused blog post titled “I Still Don’t Get Twitter.” I received a dozen comments with readers adding their input: what they use it for, what they get out of it, how I could use it, and so on.
I appreciated those comments, and I did start using Twitter more often after that entry. I soon saw its value for myself. Twitter allowed me to connect with my readers, to promote my blog that yielded even more readers, and to otherwise share things about myself that might not have warranted an entry. All good and fun.
First came the infatuation of something new. Checking my feed became part of my morning routine. How amazing was it to share little tidbits of my life to the world? To see the same of others? Pages and pages of information, breaking news, promotions, at my fingertips with each live reload.
I added more feeds to follow, reveling in the convenience getting all my news in one place. I didn’t even need bookmarks anymore. I could just open up my app.
At different points of the day, I checked my feed just to catch up. There was so much. Whenever it seemed I’ve read everything, more came in, and I felt compelled to finish what I started. Each time “View __ New Tweets” ticked up, my anxiety grew incrementally. Every new bit of information started to seem less and less useful to me. Why did I need to know these? How are they improving my life at all? They’re not.
I turned that feeling inwards. If I was this overwhelmed, then why was I also joining in on this stream of endless data? Did these things even need to be said? Did they need to be said by me? Would anyone miss out if I chose not to? I didn’t think so. I’ve quietly decreased my activity across my social media accounts over the last few weeks, and the world kept on moving forward.
I continued to reflect on why I did what I do online. The internet was a huge part of my life. My career depended on it, I needed it to stay in touch with family back home, and I wouldn’t have picked up half the skills I have now without it. I couldn’t go off the grid and live as a lumberjack (or I could, if I wanted to flip the bird at my family and everything I’ve worked for), but I certainly could be more thoughtful with where I went and what I shared. It’s the least I could do, for my sanity and for my readers. I believe I owe it to you all.
Your time is valuable
I read your blogs, watch your snaps, follow your feeds, and so on. Some of you might be in school, and some of you might be raising kids, working long hours, maybe juggling all three, or otherwise involved in your own interests. Whatever it might be, there is one common thought that comes to mind: you are all busy.
I’m not going to assume you have time for any sort of frivolity online, much less for me. Therefore, I need to make the time you do take to visit my space purposeful. I don’t want to waste it by telling you things about myself that won’t matter in the long run. I won’t leave you hanging with a subtweet that may or may not have to do with you or someone you know. I take care to provide visuals and write well not only because it’s a labor of love, but also because I want you to feel it’s worth being in my space.
My time is valuable
Just as I respect your time, I respect mine. I work, learn new tech on my off-time, attend meetups, exercise regularly, cook, maintain my home, and spend quality time with family and friends. In my spare time, I crochet and play video games. In my extra spare time, I might write on my blog.
Hobbies are things I have to carve out time for, and I make sure that time is well spent by writing and creating content that I enjoy and would want to share with the world. I don’t want to look back on my posts and cringe at my half-baked efforts, nor do I want to realize I’ve broadcasted something I regret. If to no one else, it needs to be meaningful and positive to me.
We deserve content worth our time
Time does not discriminate. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. We owe it to ourselves to keep those few hours as happy as possible. There’s no point in getting annoyed at popup email opt-ins, arguing with strangers online, or scrolling through irrelevant tweets. Life’s too short to be a passive receiver of endless information you won’t even remember the next day. We’re better off spending our time with people we love, people we could love, and content that we’ve mindfully sought out.
Life is worth living, even when it goes undocumented
Perhaps especially so. There’s this unmentioned pressure to document everything about myself because that’s what bloggers do. Somewhere along the way of tweets, grams, pins, and snaps, ways to show the world the so-called beauty of an ordinary life, the line between my online persona and my real life blurred as every minutiae could potentially be published.
Yet they don’t have to be. Those moments remain true regardless. Those memories stay with me still. There’s value in living without likes and shares, in keeping some thoughts private, in laughing with friends without a passing audience.
So what now?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve pulled back on social media over the last few weeks. I don’t plan on going totally black. I will still crack silly jokes and share songs of the day, but I will also continue to reflect on what I truly use it for. I will place more consideration into what I share, to decide if it’s worth the few bytes on the server’s database and the seconds it holds your attention. You deserve as much.
In the meantime, I will direct more of my time into one-on-one conversations. Streaming what’s on my mind feels more gratifying when it’s to a real friend. I don’t plan on deleting any of my apps, as they’re the only way I get to talk to some loved ones. If you’d ever like to talk, I’m still available to DM on Twitter.
These are simply my feelings on social media and its impact on my quality of life. You might disagree, and that’s okay. Social media is what you make of it. I simply wish to make something worthwhile.