Let’s all sing like the birdies sing…

Hey look, it’s a blog post on a blog I’ve had for years and never used!

A while back, a friend of mine mentioned that Twitter wasn’t good for her mental health.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and I’ve realized it isn’t really good for mine, either. Or at least, not the way I’ve been using it.

So I’m trying to change my interaction habits with social media now. Deleting Facebook was an excellent first step; I feel so much lighter without it. I don’t want to delete Twitter, but I do need to be more conscious about it.

Lists. I’ve always used reading lists with Twitter, but I’m tightening them down now, and I’m spending most of my time focused on the people I actually know and am close to, and want to keep up with. I have broader lists for people I just find interesting/funny but don’t care if I miss stuff with.

I’ve also rearranged my columns (I always use a third-party app that has columns) so that my mentions are the first thing I see, followed by my closest friends. Then the broader lists.

Time. I’m trying to change the way I think of Twitter to be more of an in-between thing, a thing to do on breaks or while waiting for things, not an activity to spend hours on.

The rearrangement of columns helps with this, because now the routine is more like check if anyone @s me directly – check if anything new from significant others & best friends – then IF I feel like reading more, and/or I don’t have something else to do, read next list. And more often I find myself stopping after step 2. Nothing new for me or my family? Great, I gotta get back to work.

News. I realized there is a thing I need to remember: I am not anybody’s primary news source. I keep my twitter client open all day at work, and I keep falling down wells of retweeting EVERYTHING that’s going on, especially everything appalling about the administration.

But there’s just too much of it, and it’s dragging me (and possibly my readers) down a hole. I’m cultivating a new habit of why am I retweeting this? I’m reminding myself it’s ok to read the news and not immediately try to shout it from the Twitter rooftops. If I’m seeing a news item, other people probably are, too. I’m trying to limit myself to sharing news tweets only if there’s either something specific I want to say about it (beyond “this is bad”), or if there’s an action that I want to suggest people about it (call your reps, sign this petition, please be on the lookout for this missing kid, etc.)

Because I also don’t want to put my head in the sand and be like “I only retweet happy things!” I’m not judging anyone who prefers that, but I still like the connection with other people and with seeing what’s going on in the world. And the organizational power of social media is real. But if I limit my sharing of the grim news to items of either discussion or action, then they don’t start outweighing the happy/funny things that I do retweet.

‘Cause hey, what’s the internet for if not cute animal pics?

I haven’t been doing these things for very long, but it already feels like they’re helping. Habits take time to change, though.

Oh, and I’m also, if that wasn’t evident, trying to go back to more long-form blogging. Twitter is good for microblogging, short thoughts and one-liner jokes and memes. Sometimes I have longer thoughts, and while Twitter threads work, I want to get back in the habit of putting those thoughts someplace not so ephemeral as Twitter; someplace I can more easily FIND them again.

Megara, the orange and white cat, showing her belly

Megara, the Candy Corn Kitten