Keith Gaughan

An attempt at public introspection

Life

Leaving Twitter

· 4min

I made a decision, unconsciously, a couple of months back, to stop using Twitter. I still kept using it, but my use became more sporadic. This morning I deleted the last remaining client I had installed.

I’ve been using it for quite a while. My initial reason for joining was to help somebody out with some issues they were having with their blog. I’d avoided joining for a long time as I didn’t see much point, but it made sense for that. I got to meet a lot of people through Twitter over the subsequent years.

I’m not sure I’m well suited to using Twitter anymore, if I ever was in the first place. At times, it’s admittedly been a positive thing in my life, allowing me to stay in contact with people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Sometimes it was a social outlet when I was particularly alone, allowing some form of vicarious contact with people. When my thoughts became too much, it was a way to drown them out. But the negatives have outweighed the positives for years, and in spite of my efforts to deal with the worst effects of it, Twitter has become far too much for me to handle.

I’m about half-way through my probable lifespan, and there are certain things I need to face up to. There are certain things that are likely never going to happen, and I have to admit to myself that my life is smaller than it could’ve been for the me of two decades ago. Twitter makes me sad and exacerbates my loneliness. Interacting with people there too often feeds into sadness and anger. Using Twitter gave me a simulacra of a bigger, less isolated life. It’s not a healthy place; my life is smaller than I wish it were, and Twitter overwhelms it.

Consequences

I’m not deleting my account, but I can’t see myself ever posting there again. I’m doing everything short of making it private, which will include shutting of my DMs; there’s no sense in leaving them open when there’s nobody on the other end. I don’t plan on purging everything; while I understand what motivates people to do that, it’s best for me not to as in my case it would be hiding from past mistakes. I might set up a simple bot to take a newsfeed and repost it in an edited form, but that’s it. If I do put the bot in place, I can’t see it being busy.

This will have to wait until I stop being afraid of opening the Twitter client, though. The fear makes it easier to stay away, but harder to finalise things.

By no longer using Twitter, it means losing contact with a lot of people. If you have my email or phone number, keep in touch. I’m not going to post it here explicitly, but its firstname@surname.ie, substituting my first and last names for the bits in italics.

The practice of microblogging has not been a good one. It’s been too easy to type up some half-considered notion and send it out to the world, hardly edited. I might post here more, but I have doubts. At least this puts a layer of friction between the often stupid ideas that pop into my head and what actually escapes to the world. It’s one less avenue to damage others and damage myself.

And thus I’m looking to consolidate further. I plan on narrowing my digital footprint where it make makes sense, letting unused domains for vanity projects expire, closing down old accounts,

I think I’ll stop going to conferences unless I need to. I’m not sure I can handle being around people anymore.

Further

I live by myself, and one of the consequences is that the isolation of the past few months has not been good for me mentally. You would think that having an introverted nature would prepare me for all this, but I knew otherwise. Without a conscious effort to be social, I have an unhealthy tendancy to retreat from the world. I sometimes wonder if people who’ve met me realise exactly how withdrawn I used to be. What ability I once had to have a casual conversation seems to be going. I can feel the gains from those decades of painful effort slipping away, an already small life getting smaller.