Twitter and Mental Health
There is plenty of conversation going around these days, on how technology is impacting us humans. Twitter and mental health – a much needed conversation, as it is important for us to try and grasp how we are evolving along with tech.
As the discussion moves along, the impacts of social media on the mental health of society inevitably comes up. Whatever truths come from these discussions, I feel it’s too broad of an approach. I want to zone in on one platform and one individual.
That one platform is Twitter and mental health is what I want to discuss this with you, the reader. The message gets discombobulated when talking about the effects on society as a whole. I’d rather talk to you specifically. Yes you, who is reading this post.
It’s no secret, Twitter always has some drama going on. From the President, to politicians, to journalists, to hackers, to crypto, to mainstream media, to bots, and everything in between. While a certain level of drama helps drive engagement, there is a breaking point where things become toxic.
The following is a sample of what has been coming across my feed over the last week or so.. Oh and I didn’t bother embedding these into this site. Click the time and dates to go directly to the tweets.
Note, that I follow none of these accounts. I see these stories due to retweets, likes, whats trending, etc.. That is the nature of the platform so I understand why I’m seeing them. Point being, that it is incredibly difficult to get away from content like this.
I got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight ICE agents ready to deport ya.
Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 3, 2019
So Jemele Hill has moved on from calling the president a white supremacist to now rooting for him to be assassinated during the state of the union. Yikes.
Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 6, 2019
So, FYI .. i literally have used GETCHO HAND OUT OF MY POCKET a bunch of other times on Twitter, and always in a manner where you want to escape or distract from a situation. Never in a way that was harmful or malicious.
Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 7, 2019
My statement on old tweets that have resurfaced. I am profoundly sorry.
Amber Athey (@amber_athey) February 7, 2019
Hi @TheCJPearson, I’m not “the woman sitting next to her”. @AOC and I — and millions like us — are the future of this country. And you’re right to be afraid of us.
But you should learn my name.
Nydia M Velázquez (@ReElectNydia) February 6, 2019
Here is video of Candace Owens’ full answer on nationalism and Hitler
John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) February 8, 2019
Now, before I go any further..
Let me stop here and say this, and I am going to make this as clear as I can – I do not care what side of the political isle you stand on. Left, right, for, against, red, blue, in between, all of the above, or none of the above.
The examples I have provided come from both political sides, and concern different issues. You are entitled to your own opinion, or you’re entitled to have no opinion at all.
Remember, Twitter and mental health, not Twitter and pick a side, and it better be my side. You get to think for yourself. I have no interest in telling people how things are, and how the rest of the world should feel about those things.
What good is any of this?
To my point, using the examples above, does anything of value come from these Tweets? Does any of this make you feel good after reading them? What did you learn?
How do you feel after reading them? Do you feel good? Are they funny? Did they put a smile on your face? Did they generate negative emotions? Do they make you mad? Do they actually piss you off?
Everyone has a different way of digesting the content. Personally, I’m pretty even keeled when it comes to social media. I stopped reacting one way or another, along time ago. Others have a stronger reaction.
Some do, some don’t
I’m sure there are people that just love this stuff. They embrace the drama of Twitter just because. Maybe they have a blog and the dramatic stuff provides endless material. It’s possible they like to comment because they want to share their opinions. Nothing wrong with any of that.
Then there are others, that concern me. These are the people who this is written for. I think about people who are struggling with life, who find themselves seeing this type of content on a daily basis. People who don’t brush this stuff off as easy.
I’m also concerned about Twitter and mental health affects on people who are fighting depression. People who find value on the platform for business or personal purposes, yet they get stuck reading the negative drama as well. I believe it takes a toll on them.
Gut checks and personal decisions.
This is what it comes down too. If you are a person who is struggling with mental health or simply feels Twitter is contributing to negative moods, emotions, and mindstates, here is my recommendation – Quit. That’s it. Pretty straight forward. Quit. Stop using the damn thing.
I’m not going to give advice on how to quit. No rah, rah, you can do it pep talks from me. Just quit.
I’ve read how people have weaned off social media, making schedules, reducing their use day by day. I’ve seen, people make announcements, notifying everyone that they are leaving a platform. They give an end date, do a daily countdown, say their goodbyes telling everyone how much they’ll miss them. Some people create new accounts in hopes the experience will be different.
To each their own, however I wouldn’t give this thing any more power than it deserves. You’re not swearing off your phone for life and moving off the grid here. You’re quitting a platform. Don’t over complicate this.
Delete the account and the app, don’t delete the account just delete the app, don’t delete anything just don’t open it anymore.. Whatever, just do what you have to do. Gut check time. You got this.
Twitter and mental health – an Oxymoron.
With all this said, I do spend some time on Twitter. I find some points of value and even find certain accounts humorous and witty. As for the content such as the examples provided, I simply approach it with little to no emotion. I see the material is there, but I can’t waste any real energy on it. It’s just not that important to me.
I understand everyone approaches it different, and that is the purpose behind this post. However, if you are like me, and you consume the content and brush it off, let’s think about what Twitter is mostly comprised of. Shit, let’s just make fun of the whole damn thing. Think about a typical day on Twitter.
Start with the whole ratio thing. People taking screenshots, rather than retweeting, to help “the ratio”. Then adding extra comments to the original tweet to continue contributing to “the ratio”.
If you are unfamiliar, with the ratio, it basically lets someone know they sent out an unpopular Tweet. The Twitter gods have determined that if the comment to retweet ratios is 2:1 or greater, they are in some kind of Twitter trouble.
Hence people will take screenshots to keep the retweet number down. Then, they go and comment to bring that number up. You’ve been #ratioed. Click here for greater detail but that’s as far as I care to explain.
Dear God, all this amazing technology and this is what we are doing with it. Just typing all this re enforces how silly the whole platform can be.
Notice how many adults argue with strangers, over the way they see the world. Swearing and cursing at politicians and celebrities. “Owning” those who don’t agree. Telling off journalists. Hurling insults just because they can. Take the emotion out of it, and just watch how some people act.
Grown adults in their 30s, 40s, and 50s displaying complete intolerance with each other over politics, then reporting each other to Twitter support once feelings get hurt. Adults arguing with bots. Again, take a step back and examine how this all looks.
The tipping points.
The internet has now been in homes for over a generation. We have a sizeable amount of data and observations on how people are developing their online presence. Over the years, I’ve contemplated the cross sections of your online persona and who you are as a person.
I have wondered if there is a tipping point where a person’s online life overshadows who they are as an individual. When something goes wrong in one’s online life, at what point does it become too difficult to overcome in their offline life?
I’ve heard Gary Vaynerchuk say something to the effect of “social media exposes who we are” or “social media is a reflection of us”. Great point. If someone says something downright racially or culturally insensitive, well that could be a reflection of who that person really is.
Let’s think beyond self inflicted issues for a moment. Take the recent media layoffs, as an example.
Reactions to Laid Off Writers.
After the BuzzFeed and HuffPost layoffs happened, we saw many of these affected writers take to Twitter, to let everyone know they were part of the layoff. Couple things here..
It seemed odd, as not being part of that world, to see countless people make an announcement they were losing their jobs. Then to give the “hey if anyone is looking for a journalist..” pitch. Yes, I suppose I have seen people in other industries do this, though on a much lighter note.
It’s not everyday you see things like that. The whole thing being publicized.. It was announced the layoffs were coming, the writers let Twitter world know one by one. Then comes the aftermath. The whole “learn to code” thing, coming from others.
This Isn’t Your First Rodeo
I just can’t believe that people inside of the media industry didn’t see the blowback and celebrations coming. People that have been on Twitter since 2009, with followers in the six figures, and little check marks next to their names. This is not their first day on the internet. They know how things tend to flow.
It’s like they were shocked that they were being trolled, as they were announcing their misfortune. Then, to attempt to push back against it. I just cannot believe they didn’t expect celebrations and trolling were going to be part of the equation.
Insensitive? Yes, totally. A surprise? No, not even a little bit.
So where is that tipping point? The writer’s work is done online. There is where they’ve developed their careers over the years. What point do they lose themselves in that world? If they cannot find work in online publications, how much of themselves do they lose?
Former United States Congressman and New York City Mayor, Ed Koch had a great quote we can all benefit from contemplating: “If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”
Think about that.
It feels like so many people have to be “all in” on whichever side they chose. If you voted for Donald Trump, and plan on voting for him again, you don’t have to agree with him on down to the very last iota.
Same thing if you voted against him. You don’t have to spend anymore time than it’s worth, dissecting every one of his tweets, looking for something to complain about.
It’s ok to have your own opinions. Be confident in them.
It feels like a lot of people back themselves into a corner, having to defend a politician based on the direction the party is headed, as opposed to their own thoughts and opinions. You don’t have to go all Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow when discussing politics.
I believe this plays into the Twitter and mental health aspect. It seems exhausting to constantly have to spin comments into party line, rather than just being you.
There is a lot of power in being able to formulate your own opinion, based on your own beliefs and information you’ve acquired. We have all been given the ability to form our own opinion. There is something very liberating about using that ability.
It’s ok for others to have their own opinion. Hear them out.
With that said, understand that others are allowed to have their own opinions. Be at peace with that notion, really it’s ok.
There is also a lot of power in being willing to hear someone. To keep an open mind to learning something.
Here’s an example with George Takei.
I’ve spoken out forcefully against the recent use of tear gas at our borders. I’ve since learned that this practice was commonplace under Obama, just not widely reported. I readily admit that my outrage is unfairly placed. This isn’t just a “Trump” issue. It is an American issue.
George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 28, 2018
So George Takei (of Star Trek) had an opinion about a topic. He learned something new about that topic. His opinion on that topic evolved. I love when I see things this.
The key is that Mr. Takei was willing to listen to information that had potential to conflict with his prior view. He acknowledged it an adjusted his opinion accordingly. That takes a lot of maturity on his part. It is a quality valuable beyond words. It’s also a quality that allows for growth, and a quality that is very liberating.
Wrap this up.
Let’s sum this up. If you feel that Twitter is leaving you in a bad state of mind, or it’s just a useless waste of time, do yourself a huge favor and leave. Odds are very high that you will only benefit from that decision.
If you’re like me, take a peek in every now and again. Just take the experience with a grain of salt. The moment it becomes nasty, close app, onto other things. Plain and simple.
Thank you for reading!
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