I took a short one week hiatus from Twitter.
Most people didn’t notice I was gone until there was a religion-related kerfluffle over the weekend (I’m not explaining this. Trust me, if you didn’t see it, you don’t want to know) and I didn’t poke my head in. I appreciate the emails, texts, and facebook messages from people who missed me, and the respect from my friends for my need to stay out of the drama of the last week.
I left because I couldn’t tell if my frustration and irritation was me or Twitter.
I left because it felt like every tweet was inviting war.
I said that I loved how beautiful fall was, and someone immediately, within seconds, tweeted me back with “Not in LA.” That’s one example, but it happens again and again and again. I say I love slow books, and someone comes into my mentions with the fifteen reasons they don’t like slow books. If I ask for Science Fiction recommendations, people come into my mentions and say “It’s not SF but…” Ultimately, it made my mentions column uncomfortable and occasionally hostile. It made me realize that everything I tweeted, even if it was a commentary on the blue sky, was up for debate and engagement.
If I say this wasn’t comfortable or fair, that I should be able to talk about the things I love without defending them, people say, “You don’t understand Twitter” or “this is interacting” or “this is public.” Except…if someone was standing in a line in Starbucks and said “Oh god, isn’t it gorgeous today?” If you agreed, you’d say, “Yes, it is!” and if you didn’t, you’d just smile and not engage, right? Would you point out all the places that it wasn’t beautiful? There’s a certain lack of impulse control on Twitter (and I understand: I am not immune to this) and the idea that everyone has something of value to contribute to every conversation.
I miss the community that we had on Twitter a few years ago. Something’s shifted, and no, it isn’t call out culture or the bigger push for diversity that results in complicated and sometimes difficult discussions. Something’s shifted. And that’s okay. Social networks change. But I miss the sense of community that I had even a year ago. I don’t know if it’ll come back.
I am carefully examining the ways that I interact with the internet and with the communities I choose to make sure I am not contributing to that. I probably am. I hope I’m able to recognize my faults in online interaction and change.
I didn’t get much more work done without Twitter. I thought I’d write a lot more, and I did get some done–finished up a client manuscript, read a book (Six of Crows: utterly incredible and I’m so mad I have to wait for the sequel now)–but not what I thought I’d get done. I was busy moderating a panel last weekend and hanging out with a friend from the Netherlands (Corinne Duyvis, who is the actual best) in person, and generally trying to regain some space in my life.
I was less frustrated on a daily basis without Twitter in my life. On the other hand, I need to it to book freelance clients and to … I don’t know. Sell books. Talk to my friends. I felt disconnected, and not always in a positive way.
There has to be a happy medium between the endless frustration Twitter too often brings me, and the disconnection of a Twitter-less life. I’m searching for that. A place where I have a community again, and a place where I can still create and breathe and feel like I don’t need to put on armor to open up my internet browser.
In other news, I’m using RescueTime to monitor my “distraction” time and “productivity time” on the internet and it’s a fantastic way to quietly and politely shame me into getting back to work.
So I’m back. But I’m going to be firmer with my boundaries, and reminding myself I am not obligated to engage with every person who demands that I engage with them. I’m going to be pushing at myself, examining my own need for interaction and how I seek that out, and I hope you do too.
If you have questions, please let me know. You can always contact me privately through Tumblr or through my website’s contact page.
<3 Thanks for listening, as always.