I wanted to deactivate my Twitter account for a month but I lasted 14 days. Here’s what happened:
I joined Twitter around December 2008. My girlfriend at the time told me a certain CNN news anchor was using it to get user comments from views and that I should sign up and check it out.
So I did. I opened an account and the whole concept of Twitter felt weird to me at first.
140 characters? Micro blogging?
A tweet consisted of 140 characters and you can send these tweets to other users using the “@” symbol. I tried it out but not as frequently. At the time, there wasn’t even a mobile app. I think you could use regular text to send out tweets.
I actually thought this site would fade away, eventually be eclipsed by Facebook. There was no way this website was going to last long.
But I was wrong.
The Arab spring happened and everything turned on its head. Breaking news happened all the time on Twitter and if you were not on it, you were left out. I got more updates online from news journalists in record time than if I spent watching the news media. It was fast. It was quick. It was great.
Since then, I’ve been hooked.
The Party Is Too Crowded
It’s 2017 and Twitter is a giant entity in the social media space. You can live stream events, keep up with updates using #hashtags, post pictures, videos and even gifs.
Unfortunately, I think I run out of steam and it’s not Twitter’s fault. As someone who is mildly neurotic and anxious, Twitter has steadily become poison for me. I’m always trying to stay up to date with all the latest stuff and Twitter is where I constantly check for that. When Twitter made real time updates in Tweetdeck available, they might as well have handed me a bag of cocaine. Tweets came up in quick and fast. I got everything from news alerts, breaking news, tech news, sports updates..etc.
As someone who needs constant stimulation, Twitter was my drug and I was addicted.
But as the world keeps changing and society evolves, more users gain access and more opinions get expressed online. Unfortunately, most of the time, it’s uninformed opinions. Some of the opinions expressed online can be downright scary. Some people really have no shame in revealing their backward and archaic opinions on a public platform.
The worst thing about it is that I don’t even follow certain individuals who tweet warped opinions. It’s coming from my network of people I follow. Trying to keep up with all the noise and differentiating what’s worthy of my attention can be exhausting.
Muting, blocking, creating lists…. It’s actually getting tiring.
I slowly realized that I’ve actually become more distracted. My focus is getting worse. My vocabulary and writing is not what it used to be and my attention span is shot.
The twitter party has become way too crowded and it was time for me to take a break.
Don’t Feed The Trolls
I understand Twitter is a platform where everyone can join in. But unfortunately, people don’t know what proper online etiquette is. I can tweet about an opinion about something, someone retweets it and all of a sudden, I have people coming at me and saying I need to “shut up”.
Any views on feminism, sexism, politics, religion are immediate triggers for some people sitting on the other side of the computer or smartphone.
YouTube Comments, eat your heart out!
Every since Donald Trump became president, it’s gotten worse. God forbid you tweet something bad about the president and before you know it, you’re getting jumped by a troll army screaming “America First!”
Just because you have the ability to write 140 characters and press the “Tweet” doesn’t always mean you should.
I don’t know how some people tweet some of the stuff they tweet….
In my early days of Twitter, I used to tweet stuff that I would consider bad. Like, calling people out for being stupid with no regard. Then I realized that some of those people are “humans” and I would probably not say it to their faces if I met them in real life.
Lessons Learnt From Deactivating My Twitter Account
I deactivated my personal twitter account to focus on Tech Nova and run that twitter account fully. On that account, I only follow individuals and news which give me relevant stuff for the website.
Currently, the Tech Nova account follows about 200 people including news and blog sites. It’s actually been kind of therapeutic not reading junk from my main twitter account.
It’s been 14 days since I deactivated my account. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. I’m A “Bit” Addicted To Twitter
Ok. I’ll admit that I can be a bit of an addict when it comes to Twitter. An exercise which was supposed to last 28 days lasted 14 days instead. When you have a platform where you get constant streams of tweets and news, you kind of want to keep up with everything. And for someone like me, it can be bit addicting and honestly, not good for my mental health. Since running Tech Nova’s twitter account which mostly follows news updates and tech news, it’s been great so far.
2. I Don’t “Need” Twitter
Yes. I don’t really need twitter. That is, I don’t need my personal twitter account. I don’t need to follow certain individuals or try to keep up with what’s going on. I don’t really care about the latest meme or who is having sex with their twitter followers. I don’t need that noise.
3. Building Up New Audience Takes Time, But It’s Worth It
I don’t really care about Twitter followers but people tend to follow me for one reason or another. 800 followers is not bad for a guy who retweets news updates, posts stories from his blog and writes funny tweets from time to time. I’ve never been team #FollowBack or any of that nonsense. I think most of my followers are genuine people and individuals who I have built relationships with online. I know that there are a bunch of them who I would actually like to meet in public one day.
4. No More “Dumb” Tweets
One thing about Twitter is that anybody with a brain can sign up. Unfortunately, among the masses, that means people who tend to spew opinions and try to base them in facts. People tend to type and hit the “tweet” button with no regard to how people may view it. I have seen tweets come across my timeline which make me wonder if Twitter should consider an IQ test before granting access to some users.
5. Nobody Really Misses You On Twitter Unless They Really Care
Yep. You may think having all those followers you built up means people are always checking on you. Sorry to burst your bubble but they don’t. I have about 800 twitter followers on my personal twitter page. Some are real and some are probably bots. Some may be “friends” but you don’t really need Twitter if you have actual friends.
Since I’ve gone off Twitter, no one has texted up to ask where I am. No one has called to say they don’t see me on Twitter anymore.
Mostly it’s because people have lives to live. They have things to do. Thinking the universe revolves around you because you’re up ahead in the follower count is not realistic.
OK. So What Now?
So after 14 days off my personal twitter account, I’ve decided NOT to permanently delete my account. Instead, I’ve decided to just unfollow a bunch of people and kill all the noise and distractions. I’m going to structure my personal twitter account just like the Tech Nova account: Just relevant stuff that I need for my blogging, news and tech related stuff.
I almost decided to permanently delete my account but decided to just take a hiatus instead. Sometimes, getting off social media and interacting with actual humans in person can do a lot for you.
If I find that life on Twitter gets too hectic or too addictive, I’ll just decide to leave Twitter permanently if I have to.
It’s just Twitter after all.
Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.
I’m also a UX Designer, book reader, and tech enthusiast (duh!)
Email: [email protected]