Goodbye, Social Media

On the last page of a notebook I’d been keeping this past fall, I had written down a few mid-year resolutions. Some were perhaps overambitious (“Quit drinking,” LOL) but two in particular were quite doable: “Quit Facebook” and “Quit Twitter.”

Quitting Facebook was easy, as I had done it once before (after reading a scary story about how Russian spies or whatever one calls them had weaponized Facebook to sow chaos in the 2016 election). I was pulled back into Facebook in 2019, after my publisher said it was a pretty good way to keep in touch with my fellow authors. And it was! But over the last few months I had noticed I was only ever hearing from the same handful of fellow authors, and the notion of my actually coming up with an original post in Facebook struck me as ridiculous. What did I have to say to these strangers?

Quitting Twitter was difficult. For years I had been checking Twitter every day, multiple times a day. Sometimes I would tweet something that I thought was funny and even receive one or two likes. Sometimes I would reply to a tweet, which would lead to a quick exchange with some well-regarded author like Nicholson Baker or Hari Kunzru. Sometimes I would actually hook up with someone on a deeper or more meaningful level, like Maya Grimley or Rebecca Crunden.

But 99 percent of the time I would scroll and skim, skim and scroll, only stopping to feel the full effects of a combination outrage-despair at some horrible action or opinion by someone famous/infamous. No matter who I followed, the ugliness of the online world would bleed into my feed, making me feel anxious and cynical and sad. It’s one thing to torch people’s time, it’s quite another to torch their faith in humanity.

Besides, what was in it for me, aside from the rare, transient connection as previously mentioned? I had been on Twitter since 2012 and had 166 followers. Nobody was paying attention to what I had to say.

Which is kind of a shame, if I do say so, because I had some good tweets. Below are my twenty best standalone tweets over the past nine years (and yes, I realize how middle-aged pathetic it is to repurpose one’s ignored tweets for an ignored blog post, but here we are):

  1. You’d think Doctors Without Borders would’ve raised enough money to get a border by now
  2. Sorry guys I just put my zippered hoodie in the dryer so you can forget about hearing yourself think for the next 40 minutes
  3. My hidden superpower is the ability to not lose my mind after seeing a hair in my food
  4. This bottle of skin cream is a sight for psoriasis
  5. Is there a way to break up with a friend who thinks he has the right to speak for you? Asking for a friend
  6. You know it’s time for a diet when a ride on the Zipline turns into a long walk
  7. I think they call it Uno because when someone asks me if I want to play I say, “Ew. No.”
  8. When I drink La Croix it’s like there’s a party in my mouth and only half the people I invited showed up
  9. “I don’t know why you say aloha, I say aloha.” – Hawaiian Beatles
  10. The frenemy of my frenemy is my… frenemy, I guess.
  11. Jim Croce died when his plane clipped a pecan tree in Natchitoches, Louisiana. If you can think of a more Jim Croce-ish way to die, I’m all ears
  12. I suspect Cap’n Crunch earned his stripes waging war on the roof of my mouth
  13. Ready? I was born ready, if by “ready” you mean with both male and female sex organs
  14. JOB INTERVIEW GUY: It says here you’re hard working
    ME: (laughs) I’m sorry, that must be a typo. It’s supposed to say I HEART TWERKING
  15. Just turned my head to the left and my neck made a sound exactly like when you click “Empty Recycle Bin”
  16. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. No, equals sign, I wasn’t talking to you
  17. Just finished my first ‘Pilates for Pirates’ class. Too much plank!
  18. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, ooh, because it’s SO difficult standing next to a body of water with a pole
  19. “Hey! Billy Joel! Tell me something, what has Davey got that I don’t got?”
    – Carmie, who’s still in the Army
  20. Look, I don’t want to get into a pissing contest with you. Or anyone else. I just don’t want to get into a pissing contest. Gross.