What I learned during my Twitter Summer Vacation

I decided last Spring that one of my Summer projects would be a non-project: taking a hiatus from posting on Twitter. I guess I felt disillusioned with the platform, and wanted to focus more social media time elsewhere as a sort of thought experiment.

After some initial withdrawal, I found myself settling into a new rhythm and making small but helpful adjustments. Stuck in line and bored? Try Bleacher Report for quick sports hits. Breaking news? Harder to replicate I found, but I eventually switched back to “not so breaking news” (email newsletters) and chatting with friends about “what’s going on with X.”

Here are my main takeaways from this experiment, some expected and not-so-expected:

  1. I felt a release from what I consider to be the “manufactured” dynamics or forced engagement of the platform, ranging from people who post random lists just to post (and research shows often without even reading the actual content! sigh) to just plain douchebaggery (shameless and joyless self promotion without the barest consideration of others, like this);
  2. I felt less intellectually cluttered, for lack of a better word. Yes I missed the hidden gems, like this video callout from Jason Silva or the wonderfully snarky posts of Not Johnny Manziel, but I am coming around to the idea that as humans we only have some much RAM and ROM and if you fill it with too much too fast your mental computer just bogs down;
  3. There are some other wonderful social media platforms out there! As I spent more time with YouTube for example, I came to appreciate more the power of video for “telling the story of our lives.” Or check out Pinterest: some serious engagement there!

Interestingly enough, however, my most acute sensation was a gnawing sense that I was missing out on something, or more specifically was not “in the game.” Now this may be a heightened concern on my part since so much of my professional life revolves around digital marketing and helping companies leverage social media.

But this idea that not just my professional but also my personal identity is increasingly interwoven with my social media profile and related activity proved to be real and somewhat confusing. If I am feeling down, for example, do I need to keep up the relentless drumbeat of posts and likes and follows, to as they say “fake it to make it?” Does time online detract from the quality of my life offline? Can you be something different on LinkedIn than you are on say Spotify, and does that make you inauthentic?

So I am back, and will freely read and write on Twitter etc but perhaps with a newfound appreciation for the complexities of our collective identities.

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