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When quitting Twitter isn't an option

  • 10 April 2019


Whenever I see another article talking about a social media cleanse or how the writer went off Twitter for a year or deleted their Facebook account, I have to stop myself from sighing audibly.

This isn't because I don't think there's merit to the idea — there definitely is. Social media can cause poor mental health outcomes, and there is evidence that social media is designed to be addictive. But deleting all my accounts is not something I think I could realistically do. So I scroll past the article and ignore my envy.

At present, I have 1050 tweets and 128 followers on Twitter. This isn't a lot, because even though I joined in 2013, I don't post very regularly. My feelings about social media are complicated. When I first came out, social media accounts that my family didn't follow were among the few ways I could express my queerness. Over time, I've learned to enjoy reading threads on issues I want to know about, and have cultivated a timeline that doesn't want make me want to gouge my eyes out.

If I'm honest though, the real reason I'm on Twitter isn't because I particularly love using it. The truth is that Twitter and, to a lesser degree, other social media like Facebook and Instagram, are part of my work life as a writer and editor.

What's trending, what news items are being picked up and talked about, and what the newest takes are, all come into play when it comes to what I help publish and what I write. I could get this information from other sources — and I often do — but cutting out social media would take away a huge part of how I engage with different communities and hear viewpoints I might not hear in mainstream media.

And realistically, while there are writers who don't use social media, for an emerging writer looking to freelance or publish a book, having a social media presence does help establish an audience and personal brand.

So I read those articles that tell me to cut social media out of my life with a kind of wistfulness. As much as I value the connections I make on those platforms, I sometimes resent how much time social media takes up and the guilt I feel if I don't post something. Posting anything publicly within a limited number of characters is an anxiety hellscape of checking and