Like you, I’ve had quite a lot more time to spend on the Internet over these last few months, and maybe like me you’ve also noticed that some of the fear, confusion and boredom of that time has been driving some of the worst parts to the fore.
When I joined Twitter back in 2007 it was a very positive place where people came together, and shared things they knew or had found. I followed my friends, and some people I’d never met, along with some celebrities.
I met people on there who I’ve since made into real friends (and a husband), and in 2012 I wrote my dissertation all about how Twitter was creating a place for us to meet and discuss the issues that affect us all.
But it has long felt different to how it used to; the echo bubbles abound and – as someone seeking to find both sides of the world and try and understand them – I’ve often felt caught between two warring tribes, convinced the other half are not only wrong but have poor intent.
What’s the point in sharing an opinion, on a platform perfectly designed for it, if your only persuasional technique is to say it louder, or with a more critical tone?
And as it (I’m guesturing wildly) went on, that only got worse.
And as it got worse, I remembered a book I’d read back in 2009. How to Leave Twitter, by Grace Dent. And more specifically I remembered the advice in its first few pages: you can unfollow, and follow whoever you like.
But 13 years of collecting people I now realise I might not want to hear from is a lot of people to unfollow. And for what?
Maybe when this is all over I’ll sit down and go through who I follow; when the world looks a little less scary and the predictions a little bit less close to my reality.
After so many years I guess I hadn’t remembered: I could just walk away.
And that’s an important lesson that we’d all do well to remember more often, I think. You do not have to do anything you don’t enjoy.
Sure, there are consequences sometimes to that choice – you don’t have to take your next breath – but if you’re not enjoying something, it’s worth checking the consequences of stopping are worse than the consequences of keeping going.