Essay

More handwringing about social media

I quit Twitter several weeks ago. I finally had enough of the anger.

I joined the service in 2008 and since then I never figured out what to use it for. In the last several years I had my blog auto-tweet every new post. Hardly anybody clicked through.

Before you declare me virtuous, that lack of engagement was what made it easy to say goodbye. Facebook has just as much anger, but I’m still on it because it is easy to make it bring people here to read my posts. I wrote about how I do it here. It’s my number two referrer, after search.

Referrers so far in 2020

I have signed up for a whole bunch of Facebook groups now, mostly about old roads, old cars, and old cameras. I did it because I like those things and can share my blog posts with those readers. But it’s had the surprising effect of diluting the anger in my feed. It’s all still there, but the posts from my groups space it out. One angry post is followed by a post about an abandoned road alignment, a ’72 Mercury Montego, a film photograph of someone’s beautiful girlfriend, and a discussion about Ilford HP5 Plus film.

Twitter had far higher anger density. I couldn’t figure out how to dilute it and one day, all of a sudden, I realized I’d had enough. It felt strange to delete my account after twelve years, but I find that I don’t miss Twitter at all. I thought I would, a little.

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Last updated on 20 June 2020 by Jim Grey

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29 thoughts on “More handwringing about social media

  1. I have a Twitter account, but I rarely use it. I only use the platform if an interesting looking tweet comes to my attention. I use Facebook much more frequently, although I’m not a prolific poster. To be honest, I’d probably quit Facebbok in an instant if it weren’t for the fact that it’s the only real method I have for keeping in touch with ex-colleagues. Other than that, the place is a huge cesspool of negativity and I really dislike the user interface – something that seems designed to make it difficulet to find interesting content once it’s scrolled off your screen.

  2. -N- says:

    I have never had a Twitter account and never saw the point. Who cares? Not me. More so given what goes on and the blithering, lies, and threats.

    • Because I work in tech I tend to be an early adopter of new tech. Or I used to be; that’s cooled off in my 50s. Anyway, I’ve had a long history of trying new services and then abandoning them because I can’t figure out what to make of them. Twitter holds the record for the one I kept the longest before I quit it.

      • -N- says:

        While I never worked in tech, I have been something of a computer nerd since the early 80s. Like you, it has tapered off. I find myself returning to the manual arts more and more, and having the time since I retired to really enjoy them. Computers are a tool and as long as it works effectively, I am happy. Nowadays, my husband addresses technical glitches I cannot or don’t want to deal with. However, in our spare time, we prefer to make things, like brewing, sewing, knitting, photography, building kit cars, gardening. Working with the hands is the most satisfying part of a daily life – except for housework and dishes!! These latter always feel best when DONE!

        • I used to love the technology for its own sake. Now I love it for what it can do for me. But also, as I age I just become less and less interested in trying the new thing. I finally signed up for Snapchat recently, definitely a late adopter. But my daughter wanted to be able to snap back and forth with me and it obviously makes her happy that I do.

          I’ve never been a work-with-my-hands kind of guy. I’m clumsy and slow to pick up new manual skills, and so I don’t enjoy it much. I built a new step for the deck a couple weeks ago (old one rotted). It’s satisfying to me only when it’s done.

  3. Keith Walker says:

    A;though I have a Facebookpage, I just don’t use it, I found it was more trouble than it was worth.

  4. The pages and groups I follow on Facebook are the only thing keeping me there. Well, that and the fact social media management is a big part of my job! That said, I recently started using Instagram more and find it a much more pleasant place.

    • I do enjoy that feeling of being connected to everyone I ever knew that Facebook gives me. It’s just a feeling, because in fact it’s not real connection. But to switch off Facebook would feel like ending a whole bunch of friendships.

      • I hear that. I do belong to some private groups that give me a deeper connection – one is with family (we are all very scattered) and allows me to know relatives I would never meet in real life. I value those interactions more than I can say. And it is fun to hear about news and viewpoints from places outside my own corner of the world. I even get travel ideas from friends who live other places or who travel.

    • I have mixed feelings about Instagram, mostly because they’re part of the Facebook ad-tracking complex. But I admit that it’s fun to post there and get all the likes, and the political stuff and anger is absent.

  5. Olli Thomson says:

    Good move. I’m indifferent to most social media but I detest Twitter. It’s a format designed to bring out the very worst in people and it has become a crutch for lazy journalists. Pew did some interesting research last year on Twitter. Allowing for corporate accounts and using Twitter’s own data they concluded that at most 20% of individuals (over 13 years old I think) use Twitter. The overwhelming majority of us don’t have an account. They also discovered that just 10% of users generate 80% of tweets – that’s 10% of the 20 % or 2% of the total population. 2% of the population generate 80% of the tweets, yet many journalists rely on it as a source of information. No wonder our public discourse is so depressing.

  6. What annoys me are those in the groups we like (about cameras and dogs and music and archaeology and…) who feel compelled to add some snippet of political comment to whatever they post

  7. I tried Twitter for a short time but was unwilling devote time for following more than 3 people, which is probably not how it’s supposed to work. I still wonder if I should go back to posting on FB.

  8. I’ve never done the Twitter thing, so can’t really comment there. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I have connected with some really cool people who, like me, enjoy using classic cameras. Those experiences are enriching. On the other hand…I recently posted a very nice camera for sale on one of the analog photography groups. It was a camera that I spent considerable time searching for, was in very nice condition and had recently been serviced. I asked a reasonable price based on condition and the CLA. Boy did I get negative and even mean comments. I mean, if you think a price for something is too high, move on and don’t buy it! Why all of the ornery comments? I deleted my post.

  9. Yup! I have never quite seen how twitter would enhance my life, but I do use facebook more than I probably should. You are right though, there is so much anger expressed, and so much evidence that people were not paying any attention at all in school. Some friends, who are ordinarily quite pleasant people, I cannot follow on facebook, fortunately I can unfollow them without unfriending them, with all the angst that potentially might result. And like you, I follow quite a number of photography and other special interest pages which helps to dilute the unpleasantness. And facebook did put me back in touch with long lost friends from my youth, some of whom are still nice people ;)

    • I’ve used unfollow as well here and there. But I’m considering going through my FB friends list and unfollowing or unfriending anyone who delivers anger into my feed. Who needs it?

  10. I’ve met about a dozen interesting photographers on Twitter that I communicate with. And I participate in the Ilford sponsored photo challenges. I’ve even won a couple of times. But you are correct that I follow a lot of stuff that sounded interesting, but I never check it anymore.

  11. Andrew Dreves says:

    Hi Jim, Love your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air in the frequent negative online environment 👍🏻 I prefer Facebook for personal and I use LinkedIn for professional posts for my business. I also have a Twitter Account but like you I am getting tired of the negative stuff on my feed. Your idea to drop Twitter is a good one. I’m not sure it is all that valuable! Keep writing ✍️

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