I have a confession to make: I almost joined Twitter again last week. Don’t tell anyone.
My reasons were practical but no less sad (Sad!). In this day and age when so many people you need to contact have given up their web sites and/or hidden their e-mails, social media is the only way to contact them. But I came to my senses and took my itchy finger off the “join” button.
When I say I came to my senses I mean I went on Twitter and surfed around a bit to see what I was missing, and just being on Twitter for an hour was enough to throw ice water on any ideas I had about rejoining. I was reminded of the arguments that infest the place, the quick, endless “hot takes,” the feeling of wanting to fit in by replying to someone, the rush you get when something you say is liked or retweeted, the snark, the same jokes being told by everyone. And let’s not forget the links to stories – oh, so many links to stories, which only make your “to read” list grow and grow to the point you’ll never read them all – that just infuriate you. In the short time I was there I learned women are tired of the men on Game of Thrones mansplaining everything, that doctors who say you’re overweight are “fat-shaming” you, that Taylor Swift holds the key to race relations in America, that Dunkirk is sexist and racist, that people want to get rid of Mount Rushmore, and I discovered that if you like Friends or Seinfeld you might be a terrible person.
I can’t roll my eyes anymore and if I keep slapping my forehead I’ll leave a permanent mark.
Whenever a big event or news story happens and everyone is tweeting about it, someone will always joke “_______ is the worst Twitter.” You know, “politics Twitter is the worst Twitter” or “Super Bowl Twitter is the worst Twitter.” At this point we just have to admit it: Twitter Twitter is the worst Twitter.
Joining Twitter in 2017 is like starting to smoke in 2017. We know what it’s like, we know what’s going to happen, all the data is in. Why would anyone do that?
And then you have cable news, where everything is BREAKING NEWS or DEVELOPING (one of the reasons I’d rather watch the nightly network news and read newspapers). There’s non-stop coverage on every show of whatever big story is currently going on, all the pundits and experts in their Brady Bunch-like boxes, talking over or screaming at each other. All that’s missing is Ann B. Davis in the middle. They should actually superimpose her box from the Brady Bunch opening and just leave it on there for entire segments. While everyone is talking over each other and trying to get in their spin and make their point, the smiling face of Ann B. Davis would be seen until they went to a commercial.
I guess what I’m saying is, I really miss Ann B. Davis.
The combination of Twitter and 24/7 cable news has ruined…well, just about everything: the web, the news, our mental health, common sense, time, space, reality. I don’t think our minds and souls are made to absorb this much information at this pace. We don’t think the same way anymore and we certainly don’t react to things that same way anymore. Our minds are being trained to think in terms of news alerts and video and tweets and texts.
On Twitter last week, WGBH’s Peter Kadzis said that, because he was overwhelmed by everything that’s happening, he thought it was a good night to skip cable news, get off Twitter, and read a book. Actually, every night is a good night to do that. So that’s just what I’m going to do right now.
And so should you.