Why I’m Leaving Twitter, Possibly for Good

I love Twitter. It connects me so easily and readily to like minded souls and organisations. It forges ties which an ill-fitting introvert like me would really struggle to effect alone, not being socially adept. But I can’t deal with it any more and here’s why.

It is not the first time my mental health has been poor – but I am suffering from very bad anxiety right now, to the point of constant, non-stop obsession. To be specific, climate change anxiety. I am not going to talk about the ins and outs of climate change as it is so triggering and disturbing I would rather not bring it up. But we all know that modern living from root to branch is the problem and that habits need to be changed. In order to allay anxiety, I’ve started, slowly, not enough (NEVER enough, that is impossible) to make some changes.

The problem is Twitter and the news.

When I go on to twitter or listen to the radio, there is always someone who earnestly feels the need to retweet the fact/opinion that it doesn’t matter what I do and it’s a risible waste of time and things are getting worse and worse faster and faster. My efforts to reduce plastic use are laughable. My garden is pointless. It doesn’t make a difference whether I join the Green Party, as I have done, or not. It’s so hard to motivate outwards toward making a positive change and then there’s always an article saying we are doomed and reminding me of the harm and damage we humans have done and continue to do (again I am not mentioning details due to my *severe* anxiety on the subject)

Today after months and months of enduring people blithely retweeting these grim articles and then cheerfully going about their day while mine was utterly destroyed and I was forced to give up what I had planned to do because of the wave of depression that would burn through me like an illegal gorse fire started by an Irish farmer – after one two many tweets like this, I gave one or two of the tweeters a tongue lashing. I called them out for being irresponsible and cruel. That is not to say that those folk were more at fault than anyone else, but they just decided to pollute my timeline at the wrong time. The article that took the final, solitary, unique and recherche biscuit was by a man in the Guardian who said individual changes were a waste of time and only corporate reform would make any difference. I don’t deny the need for corporate reform, but mocking the pathetic little work I did to try and ease my overwhelming, crushing, constant sense of guilt at being human and fouling everything – mocking that *just* to be able to have a dig ag neoliberalism and cheer on Corbyn – was that really necessary? Did it occur to the author that many many many of us are scared witless and just trying our best and feel his blithe dismissal is just plain cruel?

Unfortunately the person who retweeted that (and which someone else tweeted into my TL) is someone who has a lot of influence in the book industry, and I hope to continue a long-term career as a novelist. I may have shot myself in the foot a little there, since even the mildest mannered people don’t like being yelled at on twitter so why should they take any interest in my work when I’m arguing with them elsewhere? I can’t blame them, really.

Yet in some ways it’s a relief to stop pretending I fit in or am a part of the Irish establishment. I always knew I was teetering on a precipice there. The intention was to stay quiet and stick to author brand, whatever that is, until the other books were done, but my mental health just couldn’t quite make it that far. I’m just not like those other authors and I have to accept that. It’s not as if this misery I’m going through is helping me even write.

I’ve done a lot of writing but have to accept that historical fiction just has a longer arc. But when you feel you don’t even have the right to write, that it’s an absurd privilege when the planet is in such danger, when Climate Change is constantly, constantly reminding you of the endangered animals and the pointlessless of the endeavour, it’s a real exercise of will to keep going.

But I’m keeping going. Nulla dies sine linea, even it’s just one linea.

I don’t know what else to say really. I guess my author brand is shot. Maybe, to be honest, that’s a massive fucking relief. I couldn’t keep going with it.

Anyway I have so little mental discipline I might be gone all of five minutes. But probably longer. I think I need some intervention for this wave after wave after wave of bloody anxiety. If you want to stay in touch, leave a comment on this blog post or use the contact form. It will log your address and I will drop everyone who comments a “thank-you” mail.

Yours in exhaustion

Susan

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21 Comments

  1. I wrote a few posts about this! I understand where you’re coming from. Our minds are so intent on thinking the worst. We assume the ‘realistic’ outcome is the most negative, but it isn’t. The optimistic and the pessimistic are both as realistic or unrealistic as each other, so best to choose the upbeat side! (That’s what that great book, Feel the Fear and Do it anyway, taught me!) Our lives and our choices do matter and we should speak our truths. I’ve spoken about branding for authors in the past, but it’s an odd concept, as we are so multi-dimensional!

    When I was feeling down I wrote this among other posts:

    http://emilybenet.blogspot.com.es/2017/01/its-ok-to-switch-off-news.html

  2. Good on you!!!
    You were always a strong woman- firm to her convictions. I’m sure you will follow the right path.

  3. You know I’m always here if you want to chat or blow off steam or have a nice glass of wine (or a more local brew if you need the support) over a lunch anywhere. Give me a call and we’ll arrange something, anyway I definitely owe you a visit! xx

  4. I hope you can find some peace of mind Susan. No matter what anyone says, I believe we can all make a difference. “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”. ~ Confucius

  5. Hi Susan, I’m a friend of Clares. I agree so much that it is vital for each of us to make these small steps, after all the more people who do and the more people who are influenced as a result, the bigger our impact will be. Even if we just manage to adjust the culture and attitude a bit, it has to have an effect. Corporate activity needs to change too for sure. Don’t lose hope. We can and will make a difference. Sure didn’t we close the hole in the ozone layer!!!

    1. That’s true, Edel, and welcome. Hopefully the tide is turning (I hate using an ocean metaphor given that’s where the problem is, but anyway!)

      See you next Friday maybe šŸ™‚

  6. Hiya Susan, I agree we need to take care of the earth and I believe we do make a difference. I also believe we can’t campaign for corporate change without personal integrity to back up our stance, so yes to personal inroads into the plastic mess, etc. Our purchases inform the corporate world anyway; we’re the market.
    Re: your author brand… you have a strong voice on this, would that not make a wonderful brand of its own? You being you? Whatever you decide to do, please do keep in touch, anyway! xx

  7. I think it’s good to take periodic time out from mainstream news and social media, even when we’re on top of things. Anxiety (+ other negative vibes) sells advertising space :-/ I’ve been taking mine in fairly small doses for years.
    When I signed up for twitter, it was full of interpersonal interaction. These last couple of years though, my timeline has more one-way corporate/branding posts than any kind of interaction. So yeah, maybe we do need to connect in other ways.
    Anyhow, your friends will still be around, with or without twitter. So do whatever’s best for yourself at the end of the day.

    1. Thanks Declan! For me, the problem is that conversations have been replaced by “threads” aka rants about whatever political issue is dominating the discourse. It’s gotten very febrile and the bombardment of bad news is almost abusive it’s so intense. Nobody has said a bad word to me on twitter, but the general wave of misery is just overwhelming. Thanks for the kind support. Oh and I got your email and apologies for not replying. Truthfully my brain was too fried at the time šŸ˜¦

  8. Susan, I’m sorry to read that you’re having such a struggle with this, but I think you’re right to step away if it’s causing you stress. Social media can be fun, but it’s mostly nonsense. For what it’s worth, I think it’s better for an individual to do their bit than not, in every aspect, so I applaud you. Hope to see you at Fiction at the Friary at some point, and that offer of coffee is always there if you and L are ever knocking around Cork and at a loose end. Mind yourself, Anne

    1. Hi Anne! I’ll be at F and the F this month after an absence, looking forward to it. And I will take you up on that offer of a coffee, let me know when suits, would love to meet and chat. The contact form will send me an email šŸ™‚

  9. I identify with so much of this and am seriously thinking of quitting Twitter and Facebook myself. Often these sites feel like incremental brain damage. I’d say concentrate on the books and not the ‘scene’, and that’s much easier to do without the internet.

    1. Incremental brain damage. You nailed it, Janet. That’s how I’ve been feeling. The erosion of emotional stability has been awful. FB is ok, probably because I only have an author page as opposed to a personal account.

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