Last month, I decided to take a break from Twitter. It is the only social media site I use, despite the grumblings of Facebook-obsessed family and friends. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
Ditching Twitter wasn’t as hard as I expected. When I told my 20-year-old niece about my decision, I expected disbelief, maybe even laughter. Instead, I was shocked to find out she recently had stepped away from her social media accounts as well.
Social media’s reach
Seventy-two percent of Americans use some form of social media, which has skyrocketed from 5 percent in 2005 when the Pew Research Center first began tracking social media adoption. Worldwide, Facebook leads the pack of most popular social networks, with nearly 2.3 billion active accounts. It is followed by YouTube (1.9 billion) and WhatsApp (1.5 billion).
Twitter, the last remnant of my social media life, is number 12 on the list with 326 million users, after a bunch of sites I have never used. Some I’ve never even heard about.
The black hole
Everyone who visits social media sites knows how easy it is to fall into the black hole. A quick check-in and hours later you are wondering how you ended up following an online argument about why women carry phones in their back pockets. (It’s because it’s the only pocket big enough, not the misguided opinion of one poster that we want to draw attention to our booty.)
Worldwide, almost 3.5 billion people use social media, spending one-seventh of their waking lives on it, according to an analysis released earlier this year. Saying goodbye to Twitter gave me time to focus on and enjoy my own life without worrying about what others were doing.
Life without social media
The first benefit of ditching Twitter was that I became more productive. Removing the lure of social media helped combat my brain fog by keeping me more focused on tasks at hand. It also resuscitated my ailing social life. Instead of scrolling through hordes of tweets from strangers and contemplating my own contributions to the Twitterverse, I spent time engaging offline with people in my life and I made new friends.
Like my niece, who shunned social media while vacationing with her boyfriend and his family, I found I was more present in real life. We both agreed life was more enjoyable — and happier. I was no longer subjected to streams of negativity, which I had tried without success to avoid before leaving Twitter. It’s freeing not to peer into the lives of others or post on social feeds in what for many has become an addictive quest for affirmation.
No looking back
The trade-off of not being on social media is that I’m not immediately aware of breaking news or the day-to-day lives of others. That’s OK, because living fully in the moment and enjoying it with those I’m with is what matters most to me right now.
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