On Twitter and Snark

One of the things I’ve discovered about myself is that Twitter and I really don’t mix, or more accurately I seem unable to use Twitter in a way that doesn’t make me miserable.

A few years ago when I first started using Twitter, I loved it pretty much from the onset. Beginning from topics that I was interested in (i.e. politics), I soon discovered a number of very clever, interesting and funny people to follow, and it should go without saying that I could stay up to date with all sorts of developments all over the world. Now the accounts that I followed introduced me to other accounts that I had an interest in following, so of course I did. Things snowballed after that, but I wasn’t really aware of it because I was having a good time.

Now somewhere along the way I had accumulated such a mountain of people to follow that being away from my phone for any length of time resulted in a staggeringly huge number of unread tweets. Without really being aware of it happening, reading through my timeline began to feel like a chore.

When the realization dawned on me that I was constantly dreading opening the Twitter app, I did some thinking as to why that was the case. I’m something of a voracious reader, so the sheer volume of tweets to read couldn’t be the sole reason. Instead it was the content that was bothering me, and that content was an endless stream of bite sized snark.

Now I’m certainly not saying that we should vigorously oppose our political opponents, nor that we can’t have a bit of fun at their expense, that would make me a hypocrite of massive proportions. There should however be an understanding that attacks limited to 140 characters, amusing as they may be (i.e. snark), aren’t productive in any meaningful sense of the word, and that it shouldn’t compose the majority of your political dialogue. It doesn’t contribute to developing policy within your particular grouping, and it certainly doesn’t help express that policy in a coherent fashion to the rest of the world.

Despite all this, Twitter, or at least those sections dedicated to politics, is almost entirely snark. It’s exhausting seeing people from all over the world gathering in one place to digitally shit all over one another without cessation for no other purpose than a fleeting chuckle. Needless to say my overall happiness wasn’t doing better for being a part of this.

Around the time I came to understand these things, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about not doing things that make you unhappy. It seems like a fairly self-evident concept, but the idea of just stopping hadn’t really occurred to me. I did end up deleting my account, and I can honestly say the lack of that pointless nonsense made me feel noticeably less stressed and I dare say, happier.

More out of boredom than anything else I recently gave it another go. Twitter hasn’t changed, and in this regard I haven’t changed either. My advice is if you’ve got the self control (I don’t, had to delete the damn thing again), avoid the Twitter’s political morass and instead fill your feed with cute pictures of baby goats and the like. There’s enough shit out there to make you miserable, no need to add to it without good cause.

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