My Week of Rest and Relaxation
Weeknote 34: I quit Twitter.
Returning from a holiday is always a readjustment — a slow build towards regaining a sense of normality. As I get older, and maybe as I find myself working alone more, I am drawn to routines that help me marshal my time and energy. Going back to work means shaking hands with those routines, finding the pleasure and the freedom inside them.
That means last week was about saying hello to day-to-day life again: doing the admin work, looking at old processes, instituting new ones. Weeknotes like this, perhaps, are one of the things I want to introduce. I admire friends who keep the discipline (I admire friends who keep any discipline, honestly), and I don’t write enough publicly any more. It gives things shape.
And so here we are.
One thing that has helped me get myself on track is that I quit Twitter. I chose to do it as part of #DeactiDay — but my motivations weren’t a hope to change Twitter’s policy about Alex Jones or anyone else. I was moved more by a recognition that Twitter isn’t able to change, and I’m not willing to. It’s hard as a Media Person to stay away from the site, to avoid the dripfeed of just-enough-information-to-keep-you-going, stay away from the latest controversy or shiny new thing. Twitter has perfected novelty as a drug. But it is possible to detach, and I’ve slowed down dramatically in the last couple of years. When I deleted it from my phone at the beginning of 2018 (mainly to avoid the constant anxiety about everything terrible in the world that was stopping me from actually doing anything) I discovered how rarely I truly missed it.
I understand that people find a lot of value in the communities they’ve built on Twitter, and lots of people continue to build lives there. In its good moments, it is great. But when I heard the latest drivel being spouted by Jack Dorsey, I realized that this company — this company which has failed its communities time and time again — just fundamentally doesn’t understand what it is, or cannot come to terms with what it has built. It has no moral center. And since I don’t owe it anything, I thought the best way to act on my feelings was to deactivate. (I’ll probably keep my account there to avoid squatters, though. No need to give the worst elements a chance to benefit from my prior work.)
One side benefit has been to open up more time for reading, seeing, listening. This week I have read Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (which felt brilliantly caustic and yet left me unsatisfied, a low-stakes drama about New Yorkers that felt like it was full of significance for New Yorkers but carried no real meaning for me) and watched David Byrne in concert for his American Utopia tour. I’ve never seen a show quite like it, and felt both inspired and a little sad, although I am still processing what that actually means. And we ran edition 7 of RAD, a monthly San Francisco meetup for editorially-minded artsters and art-minded editorial folk, although I bailed early for the Byrne show.
Things my friends have made
I’ve made an occasional habit of highlighting projects from friends that I think are worth sharing. Weeknotes seem like a good place to do that.
- Tara and George is an astounding piece of documentary storytelling by Audrey Gillan that hands the microphone over to two middle aged homeless people in London, voices you never get to hear from in the public sphere.
- There’s a new series of Dot, my friend Ed Harris’ comedy about the women working in the War Rooms back office during the Second World War. If you like chaos, silly English people, and appreciate when language contorts itself into unusual shapes, this may be for you.
- Also enjoyed this missive from Chris Moran on how to create useful metrics.