It was only more than a week ago when I deleted my two personal Twitter accounts, one of which was my main, general account, and of which was my NBA basketball-related account.
When I deleted my main account (which included the handle related to three of my favorite activities–running, writing, teaching), my total tweets numbered around 400 over a 2-year span. Before selecting the “really delete” option, I scrolled through my tweets, searching for content that was of substance. I found some, of course. There were pictures of my children, of the keyboards I play at church on Sundays, pictures of my backyard. Then there were words about a good workout: “57 and cloudy. Perfect for a 5-mile run.”
But I have not missed Twitter at all. I did, however, find myself better able to enjoy life’s moments without the “need” (read “desire”) to share them with others (or, read, “to establish a greater sense of self-worth”). I’m less attached to my iPhone, hunting for opportunities to tweet something funny.
When I first opened a Facebook account, in August 2008, I posted status updates about bland tidbits, trying to score as many likes as possible. “is making a vanilla latte this afternoon.” “is wishing the grading were done.” “is wishing he didn’t have to refer to himself in the third-person.” (Just kidding about that last one.) After a while, I felt more comfortable stating, “I” this, and “I” that.
What prompted me to delete my accounts? I started thinking about why I was tweeting. I wasn’t trying to get retweeted, or get a tweet favorited (well, most of the time), but I was wanting attention, saying, “look at me. I just ran a long distance. Did you? I got a poem accepted. Did you?” I was finding myself tired of and disgusted with my narcissism. “Oh, no, I didn’t tweet anything for two days.” I lamented the fact that I had around 80 followers while friends and acquaintances of mine had hundreds. It became a self-esteem issue, a self-worth issue.
There was additional difficulty, too, because I do, for example, want to promote my writing. But at the same time, I believe the greater calling on my life is to practice humility. I’m not suggesting that the use of Twitter to promote your writing (or your music, etc.) is wrong in and of itself. I know people who do that well, generously Tweeting regularly in support of other writers’ creative works. I, though, am not that person. And so, I left Twitter behind. Now that I’m post-Twitter*, my creative energy, even though I only tweeted 3-5 times a week (sometimes more, sometimes less) has increased, but more importantly, my disposition is better. I found that even though the 140 characters were limiting, I was using too much energy, attempting to create a tweet that would be memorable, pithy, and funny. In my writing, I am attempting to achieve those qualities, but I realized that I’d rather aim for those qualities in my poetry, fiction, nonfiction, as well as what I write in this space.
*I still maintain a Twitter account for the journal I edit: Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature (@WindhoverMag), but there I only tweet about the journal.