I've spent a lot of time this year thinking about Twitter. I've spent way more time navel-gazing and analysing and second-guessing myself about it in the past few months than could ever be sensible. Twitter and I are not good friends. This is probably obvious to anyone who's been to my Twitter page and seen a "on a Twitter break!" pinned post there since about August.
I think, to some people, Twitter is an exciting social world. So many people, so many conversations, so much going on! A chance to connect with people and make new friends! And that's awesome. But to me, Twitter is hundreds of voices, having hundreds of conversations, all at once, and you can never, never keep up with it all. You can't hear everything, but you should hear everything. Don't miss the important information. Don't miss the conversations you want to have. Don't miss the chance to connect, the chance to have your say, but make sure you're witty while you do it, and make sure it's 140 characters or less!
I love when I get messages from people on Twitter, no doubt about that. It's the wider crowd interactions that I struggle with. I'm really not a crowd person.
I'm also not an "140 characters or less" person. I'm an "I know you asked for 3-5 pages for this essay, but is it OK if I hand in 30 pages instead?" person. I don't think 140 characters can cover issues more complicated than "Andrew to win Bake Off!!" Some people manage it, and those people are awesome, but I'm a long-form person. I like sitting down to watch 20 minute chatty vlogs. My favorite Tumblr posts are essays. I want things to go in depth. I want them to take their time.
Meanwhile, reading Tweets? Wow, that can get addictive fast, and get overwhelming even faster. Twitter is very much a now medium, and I really appreciate it when there is a big now thing happening. Eurovision. Bake Off. The election results. It's about shared experience, and when everyone is focussed on that, and I'm focussing on it too, it's awesome. But most of the time, everyone is focussing on different things, and it feels like an endless crowd swelling all around you, all moving in different directions. Or everyone is briefly talking about the same thing, but no-one in your feed is providing any context for what that thing actually is. Way too often, I've logged onto Twitter, gone, "Wow, people are angry, what happened?" and not been able to find out without a good half an hour of clicking around and research.
But sometimes Twitter feels like it is the Internet. That the Internet is about everyone gathered at once, and it is about now. Twitter can be a great tool, so I should be there, engaging. And if you're reading this and thinking, "You're overthinking this," I know. Believe me, I know. That's kind of the whole problem. But I don't know, maybe there are other people who overthink like this too. Who worry that they have to use a website that just gives them more anxiety the more they try, or just that they have to be there, available to everyone's thoughts at all times, because that's what people do now.
Which, to be honest, is all BS.
I'm not about to run and delete my Twitter account, because there are times when I'm glad it's there, and I know it's a lot of people's contact method of choice . But I'll be honest. I haven't opened my Twitter feed in a month now, and I feel so much better. I (hopefully) get any messages sent to my email, so I know when to pop back if I need to. But it's so good to get some headspace from it. Even if I'm probably missing out on certain news and discussions. Even if I know there's a community there. I guess I'm just more of an Instagram person. And, clearly, more of a blog person, even if that means I'm stuck in 2010.