I’ve written plenty about my decision to leave social media in November 2018, and I’ve found the benefits have been more than worth it (I’ve left Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but I do use WhatsApp).
I felt a twinge of almost-regret when I started my freelance career, and I felt another twinge a few days ago, when the coronavirus crisis and the accompanying restrictions hit London. Would Twitter give me a sense of fellowship and constant communication that I’d miss during self-isolation?
I was able to answer that with a “no” very soon. Having skimmed a few Twitter profiles, I felt the familiar sense of rising panic. The fake news, angry responses to politicians (some justified, some not), and endlessly recycled jokes weren’t doing anything for my sense of wellbeing. I can generate plenty of anxiety by myself, I’ll have my unreasonable reactions to politicians in private, and I can definitely come up with bad jokes independently. (Sorry, husband.)
Twitter has its defenders and I’m sure it can do a lot of good, but I’ve questioned the balance of positive vs. negative attributes before. Talking to other people should make you feel better about yourself and the world, especially at a time like this. I have to wonder if the supermarket shortages have been exacerbated by social media fearmongering. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it has been educational to see how damaging fear can be when taken to extremes. It hurts others.
Right now, I’m craving simple human-to-human interaction. I’ve decided to try and speak to a friend, colleague or relative every single day of social isolation. I only call a couple of close friends regularly; calling a wider range of people will help to keep these relationships going and possibly deepen them.
If you can, make contact with your neighbours. I’m lucky to live in a cul-de-sac where I know most of the other residents at least by sight. As I look at my dwindling (and modest) stash, I remind myself that having people nearby who will look out for you is worth more than infinite rolls of toilet paper.
Stay safe, everyone, and keep in touch.