In my last job I was so incredibly bored and so remarkably un-busy that I often checked Twitter hourly. Okay, if I’m being really honest, sometimes it was every 15 minutes. So basically I checked Twitter way too often. But then I got busy in my new job, so busy in fact that I cold-turkey stopped checking Twitter almost two months ago. It’s been an enlightening experience to let go of something that used dominate a fair bit of my time and mental energy, and today I share that enlightenment with you.
For the most part, I followed a pretty light crowd, a pop culture hodge-podge of musicians, movie stars and athletes. Still, there’s enough going on in the world today that it was easy to fall down the Twitter rabbit hole of infuriating tweets and retweets and sub-threads. Often, I’d walk away from my brief but frequent forays into the Twitter-scape with feelings running the gamut from mildly irritated to disgusted with the state of the world. In other words, Twitter was bad news for my emotional well-being.
At first it was difficult to let go. Sure, I was busy, but I wondered what Chrissie Teigen was cooking that day or whether Ryan Adams was hanging out with his cats. I felt disconnected from the world at large. But then when I realized I also wasn’t reading Donald Trump retweets or endless and increasingly illogical arguments between the anti-NRA and the pro-NRA, suddenly I realized that my mental energy was staying more balanced. I was getting less worked up. The world was looking brighter. Twitter was in grave danger of being forgotten.
But the best part of this whole unintended Twitter breakup was that Twitter knew it was on the verge of being ghosted. They clearly have a game plan in place for when frequent users experience a drastic drop off. It started with the daily emails, that ones that kindly informed me that I had 29 updates from a handful of whatever Twitter’s algorithm had determined were my favourite celebrities du jour. I could live with that. I liked to know Twitter was still thinking about me.
But then they added a second daily email, these ones a little more focused on just one celebrity. They were putting all their eggs in one basket. They were willing to bet that if I knew Ryan Adams tweet was featured in the news, I’d have to get back into that app. I mean, I might be missing kitten pictures. I was sort of impressed with this strategy. I am a highly curious person. I did want to look, but my new job has kept me so much busier that I often simply forgot.
Never ones to accept defeat, Twitter then unleashed its unleashed the ultimate FOMO-inducing strategy. Feast your eyes on this one:
It’s so supremely mysterious, so very deliciously vague. I mean, what is this one message that is waiting just for me??? I actually give Twitter a huge kudos for this one. It’s one thing to tell me that someone I follow has just tweeted, or to let me know that his or her tweet has somehow gone viral, but it’s a whole different ballgame to create the illusion of personally curated tweets that only my eyes might see.
It’s a total lie, of course, but for just one brief moment I imagined a world in which Twitter might somehow know that what I needed that very moment was a picture of Ryan Adam’s cats and not the inane political ramblings of a bunch of total strangers. But although it was a nice dream, it was also a flawed one, and so I ignored even this most coy of click bait and continued without Twitter. On the other side of two months Twitter-free, I can honestly say that almost nothing could tempt me to come back.* I might finally have cracked the code on my own sense of FOMO. Thanks, Twitter, I’ve been working on that one for a while.
*It also helps that I finally unsubscribed from all their “you’re missing out” emails.