I deleted the Twitter app from my phone this morning.
This isn’t a political statement and has nothing to do with the constant spew of pro- and anti-Trump bile that seems to dominate social media these days. (Ok, I can’t say it has nothing to do with it, but let’s just say the political rants were a secondary concern.)
And I didn’t shut down my Twitter feed entirely (unlike Facebook, which I happily canned about two years ago). I simply removed it from my phone. I can still read and post by logging in on my PC, and there are still a handful of good, insightful feeds I like to read.
But it’s gone from my phone, and good riddance. By making Twitter harder to access, I’m guaranteed to use it less.
So, what’s prompted my sudden lurch into Luddism?
I want my life back.
This started a little over two years ago when I realized I had wasted the better part of a work day looking at pictures of people I hadn’t seen in 20 years on Facebook. I barely cared about the people 20 years ago, and I certainly didn’t care any more about them as I was clicking on their photos. Yet I wasted a day I can never have back looking at pictures of people I kinda knew 20 years ago who haven’t aged well.
Along with the unflattering photos were the political rants. Political rants, in moderation, are fine among old friends with similar views. But your grandmother knew what she was talking about when she told you not to discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. It causes unnecessary friction, it makes people uncomfortable and it can do damage to friendships for no good or justifiable reason. You really see people at their worst when they talk politics… and I don’t need to waste another moment of my life reading self-righteous political rants from people I barely know or might not know at all.
I have young children at home. I want them to actually know their father. I want them to see my face, with my eyes making contact and with my mouth smiling. I don’t want their memory of me when I’m gone to be that of me stooped over a smartphone with my face in a scowl. My sons deserve better than that.
I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like with them. At this stage in my career, I am by necessity something of a workaholic, and I have to travel more than I’d like. So when I’m around, I need to actually be around, and not fidgeting with my phone.
I’m not throwing my phone in the dumpster… at least not yet. That day might still come. But I’m making an effort to curtail the time I spend on it. It’s addictive, and I don’t like that. I hate that I feel that split second of panic when I don’t feel my phone in my pocket… or that I find myself compulsively reaching for it.
That’s the worst aspect. I’ve never been addicted to a substance, but I’ve always looked down on smokers that compulsively paw at their packet of cigarettes. I feel myself doing that with my smartphone, and I hate it.
So, Twitter had to go.
Like any junkie, I’ll feel withdrawal pangs. But once they pass, I can’t imagine I’ll miss it.