A little while ago, I stopped using Twitter on a daily basis as the continuous barrage of news was getting me down. Six weeks after doing so, I wrote a post about it. Those six weeks have now become six months, and I can say I’m still off Twitter and have no immediate intention of going back.
My anxiety levels dropped since getting off1, and although they’ve not completely gone, the baseline has remained low with occasional spikes that soon subside. But the best thing is that the time I would have spend reading Twitter I now spend reading stuff that would have taken longer than 30 seconds to write. Things like books, blog posts and long-form articles (and Micro.blog posts, I always have time for those). It feels like the balance of my information diet has centred somewhat. I still occasionally read the news (although I stay away from the commercial news sources) but I try not to spend too much time on it. Most things I don’t need to be informed about in real time: if I learn about it the follow day, it’s no big deal.
I’m also seeing more and more people making the same choice I’ve made. The continuous stream of news on Twitter is just becoming too much for them, and they want off. I think Timo Koola’s post sums it up pretty well:
I wonder how much studies there are about harmfulness of following the news too closely? I don’t think our minds were made for constant bombardment of distressing things we can’t do anything about.
It’s not healthy being constantly reminded of events going on, most of them undesirable, that you can’t change. Better for myself that I spend my attention on things that interest me and help me grow.
It’s amusing that the language I found myself using for this post sounds like I’m recovering from some form of substance abuse. I’m guessing the addictive nature of Twitter and its ilk are not too different. ↩︎