Have you ever gone to quit Twitter, only to open the app back up 2 minutes later, scroll for 15 minutes looking at nothing in particular then forget all about your grand plans?
God knows I have.
But have you ever wondered whether your instincts about Twitter (and most social media for that matter) were right? Is Twitter melting your brain? Well that’s what I’m here for. I’ve been off Twitter for almost 60 days now and I’ve never felt better. My business is flourishing without it, I have more time to focus on what really matters and I feel fantastic.
It feels like quitting an addiction (and the freedom of not mindlessly scrolling while you take a deuce is one of the greatest reliefs of all time).
The problem with Twitter
Social media can be used for so much good, but in reality, it really, really isn’t. Twitter especially is rife with issues and has caused so much trouble for even the most casual of users. I’m not going to write a big essay on this because let’s be honest, that’d bore the bloody socks off you, but…
I am going to present you with a lovely little list of the problems (we all love a good list don’t we?) I encountered on Twitter and that I know most others will too, then we’ll move on from there.
Keeping up with the Joneses
This is the absolute biggest problem with the whole of social media but I found it quite prevalent on Twitter more so than any other platform.
It is a different type of keeping up with the Joneses on Twitter though. You’re not comparing yourself to pictures of people – in fact, you’re not comparing yourself at all really – you’re just trying to fit in.
There is so much pressure on Twitter to conform to the opinions of others. If your opinion is even slightly different to anyone else you are instantly branded as ‘Toxic’ or ‘Cancelled’. I didn’t suffer this ill fate but I got so fed up of seeing people tear others down so regularly that I felt like I just had to get off the platform.
Like most people, I’m not one for regimented conformity – so this form of keeping up with the Joneses really rubbed me up the wrong way. That’s the tea sis. Cancelled.
Twitter can be a huge source of anxiety in the modern world. How mad is that? Something that didn’t even exist a decade or so ago, becoming one of the biggest sources of anxiety in today’s society.
The constant need to conform and the barrage of absolute bollocks that gets fed to us in 140 characters every second is giving us the worst anxiety epidemic the world has known. More so than during the either of the world wars.
A caveat – anxiety is much more well researched and acknowledged in modern times, but I would wager it is still higher than it was during those periods.
Closely linked with anxiety, depression is another mental illness that can be caused, or at least exacerbated by Twitter. Depression statistics over the past 15 years make for grim viewing – it also conveniently coincides with the rise in social media popularity.
This may be linked to the FOMO that Twitter brings. Being connected 100% of the time leads us to compulsively check our feeds every minute just in case we see something funny to retweet or we see our friends tweeting about something we simply can’t miss out on.
If we do see our friends tweeting about something cool they’re doing or god forbid – tweeting other people (gasp), we tend to feel down and jealous, which can lead to anxiety & depressive symptoms at the least and full bouts of the two at worst.
Genuine human connection
Listen, we’re not living in Minority Report. We’re not part of the matrix or shagging robots (for the most part) and we’re still based firmly in the real world. BUT, we are heading that way – we’re losing our grip on reality and a large group of us would probably rather live in a digital world.
You see it everywhere – people meet their friends and they all sit around together on their phones, talking to other people and posting tweets about what they’re doing and how much they’re enjoying it instead of actually doing so.
We lose that sense of genuine human connection – instead opting for the allure of our screens, which is harming our ability to actually communicate and form meaningful, lasting friendships in person.
Lack of attention span
This may well be a symptom of the times we live in but our attention spans have regressed at an alarming rate. It is said that our attention only lasts about 40 seconds on average nowadays. How crazy is that? You can only do meaningful work for about 40 seconds before you are distracted by something like a notification or simply just the urge to tweet or scroll your phone.
The use of 140 characters has dumbed us down somewhat in terms of what we are willing to consume. Why read a full post about a meaningful topic when you could just read a few tweets in a thread? That’s the thought process of so many of us nowadays and I believe it’s partly down to Twitter.
Blue light. This is the culprit for those 3am social media binges. The ability to refresh and refresh for hours straight, seeing new tweets constantly is addictive. We lose all sense of time and get sucked into this vortex.
Blue light will disrupt your sleep by itself but the combined with the addictive nature of Twitter, you will find yourself sacrificing hours of quality sleep to try and think up just one more tweet. This constant need for a few more retweets will keep the gears in your head spinning for hours, which is why you find it so hard to get off to sleep when the last thing you did was look at your phone.
If you want to improve your sleep, spend less time on your phone at night and have boundless energy starting tomorrow then check out my essential night time routine.
We will often feel guilty about how much time we spend in Twitter, leading us to feel terrible for a while, before we go an another hour long binge and repeat the process.
We also tend to feel varying amounts of regret over our tweets with the majority of us feeling embarrassed or ashamed of something we tweeted – even if it was just a few days ago. This causes another onslaught of guilt and lowers your wellbeing just a little bit further.
In more severe cases, tweets can pose a serious threat to people’s careers. Twitter has been around for a long time now, meaning there have been a lot of past tweets racked up by celebrities everywhere.
These tweets have been responsible for tarnishing and sometimes completely ruining the careers of countless stars such as Brother Nature, Justine Sacco & Gwyneth Paltrow. The tweets from these people were stupid by the way, but it just goes to highlight how Twitter can go from 0-100 real quick.
Troll breeding ground
This is huge. Although I never really got ‘trolled’, a lot of people have received abuse, death threats and worse through Twitter. It’s also a place where you’ll get sucked into needless arguments and ‘debates’ over things you don’t even care about.
I remember I got into an argument with someone because they tweeted a flippant remark about bloggers. Who cares? It didn’t make me feel better – in fact, it made me feel angry and stressed, and for what? Absolutely nowt – it’s a platform for nonsense debate and fierce arguments over faux-concerned people.
Our own thoughts
It’s gone quite unnoticed but we hate spending time alone with our thoughts – if even for a few seconds. Think about when someone goes the toilet on a date, what do you do? You check your phone for updates so you don’t have to sit there doing nothing.
We are afraid of our thoughts. Boredom scares us. It’s a shame really – we don’t even know what it’s like to just be anymore. That’s not in some spiritual way either – your grandparents and even your parents for the most part, didn’t have Twitter – they were just present and spent a lot of time with their thoughts, inadvertently getting familiar and comfortable with their own mind.
I believe this is why there are such higher rates of anxiety and depression in the present day – we hate our own minds and when we have to spend time thinking, with no stimulation, we don’t know what to do and it frightens us.
I recently read a book called Hyperfocus which has a large section on spending time alone with your thoughts and no distractions. It shows you how to be comfortable with your mind and enable your creative spark. It changed my life – you should give it a go.
I quit Twitter because basically – it’s boring. So many people just go on there to moan. At least on a platform like Instagram, people are striving for better, they want the best shots and creatives are constantly looking to perfect their craft.
Whereas on Twitter, people just like to complain to brands that their top is a bit too small or that their train is late. It’s just meaningless musings from people who find solace in bashing everything but themselves.
If you want to avoid the majority of negativity in your life at the moment then you should quit Twitter. You will feel an almost instant burst of positivity – promise.
A quick sidenote. I know these issues can probably be applied to both Facebook and Instagram too. The thing is though, why are you still on Facebook anyway?
And in terms of Instagram, I genuinely don’t believe it’s that bad. People can’t retweet nonsense onto your timeline and the whole environment is far more geared towards positivity, with much less emphasis on promoting people who moan and bitch about everything.
But if you really want to go full hippie then feel free to bin off all your social media and get that #RealLife experience.
I’m a professional who uses Twitter for business, what about me?
This is sort of a solid argument, as I can see where business owners are coming from here. But I am a full time blogger and Twitter is supposedly a blogger’s best friend, is it not?
You see, if something is really getting you down, it really isn’t worth the hassle of keeping up with. If you’re feeling the negative effects of Twitter (or any social media for that matter) then maybe it’s just best to take a hiatus.
In the grand scheme of things, it simply doesn’t matter.
Why it doesn’t matter
So why doesn’t it matter? Well if we zoom out to the biggest picture possible, we’re a microscopic speck of dust floating on a rock in an infinite blank space, but let’s not zoom out that far – I don’t want to give anyone an existential meltdown.
Let’s take a look a bit closer to home. What do you value more, your happiness or your social media score? Some people don’t realise that it might be this question that they have to ask themselves. You, and only you, can make that decision, but actually addressing the issue head on might be the nudge in the right direction you need.
It also doesn’t matter because Twitter really isn’t the place for businesses to flourish anyway. Twitter is the platform that customers go on to vent frustration. Very rarely will you have customers tweeting praise at you – they do that on other platforms, if at all. It’s like a public complaints mailbox.
That’s why you see so many disastrous PR fails on Twitter. One wrong word and people will jump on you for absolutely nothing. I’ve jumped at brands before too so I can’t preach, but in terms of creating a strong business, I really don’t think Twitter is the way to go.
There are so many better platforms for brands to be on nowadays that are far better suited to businesses. Facebook is still sort of relevant for the average business but Instagram and on-site content marketing will become your new best friends when it comes to growth.
On Instagram, if you post daily and interact with lots of people, you’ll be able to build your brand pretty quickly – especially if you invest in ad campaigns too.
Then there’s on-site content marketing. If you’re not creating quality content for a blog on your site then you’re missing out on potentially thousands of leads. Great content will drive lots and lots of unique visitors to your business, so make this one of your priorities. I guarantee you it’ll more effective – and fulfilling than Twitter.
What about keeping in touch with friends?
At the end of the day, their lives don’t really matter – yours does. You need to start living your own life for you and not for the adulation of your friends and random people online.
Once you get this into your head, you will start to realise how great life can be without flaunting it to everyone twice per hour. You can still keep in touch with friends – you’ve got a phone haven’t you?
Why not actually ask them what they’ve been up to and talk about instead of seeing their tweet about climbing Everest and replying ‘well done – maybe I’ll come along next time lol’. When you quit Twitter it will bring you closer to your friends and the connection will be far more real than a few likes and retweets every so often.
Does it have to be forever?
Nope. You won’t have to quit Twitter til you’re dying breath.
You can try taking a day off every week or a week off every month – whatever you feel comfortable with. You could try a full month and then see how you feel. I’ll go more into depth below about exactly what you can do when you’re looking to quit Twitter – even if it’s not permanent.
So what is the solution? It’s all well and good preaching on my ‘QUIT TWITTER!!!’ soap box, but if I don’t provide you with the secret sauce then it’s all in vain. So, let’s get into the meat of it.
Here’s the secret if you want to quit Twitter – you quit Twitter. Whaaaaaat?!?!?! I know it may be revolutionary but quitting Twitter really is the best way to quit Twitter. Who would have thought it?
I’m only semi-joking here too. It’s like the proverbial cliche – ripping the (American accent) band aid off. Just get it over with and deactivate straight away. No need for a big dramatic post trying to notify people of your noble quest. Just get off and tell anyone who you’re close to via text or carrier pigeon.
Ride the wave
The first week is by far and away going to be the hardest. You’re going to instinctively go in your pocket every couple of minutes. You’re going to scroll across your homescreen to try and find the app and you’re going to search for Twitter on your desktop. This is because over the years, you’ve built up a terrible habit – a twitch if you will. You have come to rely on this little app on your phone for stimulation and pleasure.
But you’ve just gotta ride that wave. You’ve got to see out this adjustment period of about a week or so. Once you get past this initial hurdle, it’s plain sailing. You will stop going for your phone every few minutes, you’ll stop looking for Twitter and you’ll stop thinking constantly about if a situation you’re in would make for a decent tweet.
You will come to realise that you don’t need this little bluebird anymore and that you have so much more free time and energy without it. You may even stop thinking in binary metrics of likes and retweets – shock horror.
After taking 30 days off Twitter, you can now reassess whether or not you need it in your life. Have you suffered any of the drastic consequences you thought you would? Do you really need to log back in?
If the answer is no to both of these, why not quit Twitter for good? If you think this is too big of a step, you can always log back in, make the world aware of your presence again and limit yourself to one or two scrolling sessions per day with notifications turned off.
Better yet, delete the app off your phone and force yourself to use Twitter only on your desktop – this is an effective way of limiting your consumption going forward.
Benefits of taking some time off
Now for the juicy stuff.
You’re going to experience a looooot of benefits when you quit Twitter. It may also help to take on board the tips about reducing all social media consumption too. But anyway, let’s be havin ya!
You become present
I have noticed this one the most. Instead of pulling out my phone every few minutes to check my feed and if I’ve missed someone’s tweet, I will barely go on it at all. Often if I’m meeting someone, I’ll keep my phone off completely so I can give them my full attention. After a while this gets a lot easier and you’ll find yourself enjoying the present far more.
Increases in happiness
This is pretty much guaranteed. Once you block all the negativity and bad news that Twitter feeds you with constantly, you will feel yourself being more happy and more concerned with living your own life and not dwelling on someone else’s sadness.
I know that might seem a bit cold but you have to concentrate on increasing your own happiness before you try to increase everyone else’s. They always tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others in the event of a plane crash – this is no less true with happiness and life in general.
I was averaging about 3 hours of screen time a day which probably isn’t even that bad compared to the general population. But that is still AWFUL. 3 hours per day spent gorming at a screen? That works out to almost an entire day per week lost to social media.
Twitter is the main culprit for this as it constantly feeds you new news stories, insights into people’s lives and just about anything else you can think of that would consume your time. By taking the decision to quit Twitter, you will be saving yourself so much of your finite time.
You can use this time to spend with your friends and family, work on a passion project, learn a new skill, whatever it may be – it has to be better than aimlessly scrolling through a screen hasn’t it?
You are more creative
Since you will be cutting down screen time (mine’s at about 30-40 minutes a day now), you will be spending a lot more time without this unnatural, novel stimuli and more time alone with your thoughts to be more creative.
Have you ever noticed how most kids are so bloody happy? Do you not think that has something to do with the fact they don’t have phones yet? They can spend their days socialising, learning and being creative. They don’t have the choice to go on their phones so they use their minds all the time.
Why can’t use adults be like that? I’m not stupid – I know that real life comes with stresses, bills, etc but why can’t we strive to just exist a bit more simply? Spend less time on our phone, socialise a bit more (in person) or learn a new skill – these can easily be done if you quit Twitter.
If you quit Twitter, it may just be the catalyst for change that you’ve been after – I know it certainly was for me. Keep your mind young, use your brain more and you will become much more creative and above all – happy.
No more FOMO
There will be no more fear of missing out. You will stop spending your time refreshing friends’ feeds to see if they’ve posted updates or the day after to see if they upload any funny stories about the night.
You won’t care – at least you won’t after the first couple of weeks. Life will go on, the next night will roll around and you’ll want to go to that one because you want to experience it for real – not vicariously through their social feeds.
It’s a win win win win win situation. I can’t think of a single person that loses when you quit Twitter. Except for @Jack.
Can Twitter be a force for good?
In short, yes it can.
However, it is pretty hard for Twitter to be a force for good over a prolonged period of time. Twitter was absolutely amazing for me for about 12 months. It allowed me to connect with lots of amazing people in blogging who helped me along the way and have genuinely become friends.
We all now follow each other on Instagram though, so I’m not missing out on any friendships. The only difference now is that the whole space I move in is far more positive and conversations are more meaningful.
If you can follow about 50 people, Twitter will probably be okay for the most part but let’s be honest – apart from your Grandma, who follows just 50 people? It’s impossible.
No matter how pure your intentions, your following count will always end up snowballing and you’ll find yourself getting angry at political threads and annoying trolls. The stress of Twitter really isn’t worth it – not for me anyway.
There we have it. Your eyes have been #opened. Time to go and live off-grid in your campervan and survive on a diet of nettle leaves and lettuce.
Oh wait, no it’s not. Taking time away from social media isn’t becoming a hippie, it’s becoming a better version of yourself. Twitter is the main offender here, if you can prize yourself away from the bluebird of doom for just a few weeks, you’ll realise how much happier you can be on a far more regular basis.
Trust me – quit Twitter.