I was never as hooked on social media as a lot of people, but even I can tell you that the last few months of limiting my already limited exposure to everyone’s garbage opinions and constant stupid outrage even further has me starting to feel a bit better. I’m no less informed (you should see my RSS), and I can still find out what people I actually like are up to by pulling their timelines now and then. When I do get the urge to glance at the home timeline, it usually takes only a few short minutes to remember why I generally don’t bother doing that and return to normal. I’ve never felt the need to completely deactivate as Bassey Ikpi did, but I understand the impulse and I recommend it if you don’t have enough self-control to ignore things on your own.
Being off Twitter specifically has been a blessing. Over the last year, the constant influx of political news and random outrage had me in a constant state of anxiety. The anxiety was so prevalent that I didn’t notice I was constantly trembling with nerves.
The last three months, I have avoided being inundated with tweets by Toupee Fiasco and then the hurricane of responses and analysis of his tweets or actions. The need to know something as soon as it happens has lessened. I assume that if we are in a nuclear war, someone will tell me or text me or post a selfie on Instagram with an inspirational caption and fitting hashtag.
There’s no real reason for me to watch every single false alarm and frenzy.
What I also appreciate is the conversations I have with friends about current events. I’m not completely out of the room, but I have a moment to process information and remember nuance before firing off a 140-character (wait; it’s like 400 characters now, right?) half-formed thought. I can really sit with and develop an opinion without the hurried, pressurized “Tell me what you think about this RIGHT NOW.”
It helps me avoid stating how I’m supposed to feel based on the opinions around me and instead gives me a chance to actually process nuance and context before I decide what I think. I also get the benefit of hearing other opinions and voices and weigh them against my own. I’m not as prone to performative outrage as I was.
I appreciate and often miss the variety of discourse offered by social media, but I don’t miss the constant influx of not just opinions but also the level of toxicity and outrage that is just too much for me these days.