Keeping one’s mind right in a world that feels like it is struggling to get a grip on reality often seems damn near impossible. And that is under supposedly normal conditions. Today, it feels even harder, especially on Twitter. I have a love-hate relationship with the platform that started in 2008. Or rather with how we interact with each other on the platform.
In my first couple of years, I was on constantly to the point where it was creating rifts in my home. I was fascinated by how we would find out about events as they took place because people were tweeting from the ground. The night Michael Jackson died, I was glued to Twitter, getting updates from across the world.
Even ‘twoggle‘ was a thing where you would get speedy responses to questions on just about anything.
I am not here to slam Twitter. It continues to be the one space where I am able to get a snapshot of what’s happening in the news, globally. There was a time when I used to unfollow everyone on January 1st. I would then spend the year following people, often times the same people. I would go through their timelines afresh and decide whether it added value to me. To be honest, one of the reasons I did this was because people were very precious about being unfollowed and, this way, I could unfollow the people that I didn’t want to follow any longer.
I worry about that less. I also spend less time on Twitter. And I rarely scroll through my timeline. Sometimes, I will go on just to tweet something and check my notifications. I also often start tweets and then delete them without posting. About 2 to 3 years ago, I realised that Twitter was setting the tone for my day. I would wake up in the morning and the first thing that I would was to glance at Twitter and, without fail, there would be tweets that put a real damper on my mood. And that would stay with me for the day.
So I implemented the rule that I would not go onto Twitter until, earliest, 09:00am, when I have started and set my mind state for the day. Most days I would try and stretch as late as possible.
Recently, a friend was talking about the importance of ‘protecting your peace’, especially under the current climate globally. In the first week of the ‘lockdown’/self-sanctuary in South Africa, I found myself falling back into old, bad habits, checking Twitter the minute I wake up and then constantly throughout the day. With the majority of my feed being about Covid-19 and related the tragedy, the missteps, the struggles, etc, the anxiety was literally building hour on hour.
From week 2, I have had to step away from Twitter to protect my peace. While it is probably not intended, my timeline often feels like an endless stream of negativity, disgruntlement and indignation. For some people, it is important to have an outlet, a space to let go of the weight, and Twitter may be that space, but I am finding it harder and harder to stay positive and sane when I spend prolonged periods on Twitter.
I am sure this is going on in other spaces too but I have generally spent a lot less time on platforms like Facebook, so they don’t affect me much.
Which platform are you finding difficult to navigate right now?