Follow NPR’s lead and delete Twitter
What’s the first thing you do on your phone when you wake up? After you turn off your alarm, how long does it take muscle memory to get you to a social media app? Three, four shots? Now ask yourself: what would happen if you didn’t? You may miss a funny meme or the latest trend or a few bits of juicy sports gossip. The worst case scenario is that you lose your sense of connection with accounts you consider friends, but that relationship is one-sided and as close to an imaginary friend as adults can get.
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Best case scenario, you don’t spend hours of your day wasting time scrolling through an endless stream of bullshit, do you subjected to the massive amount of hate that feeds the internet, and avoid arguing with @PhillyFan23891 over whether the process was successful. Believe me, the worst case best day is better than the best worst case day, and I should know that. I’ve been Twitter free for over a year now.
For the sake of transparency, I quit all major social media platforms just over a year ago for the sake of self preservation and my sanity after making a glaring and embarrassing reporting error which is gone viral. Anyway, even before my accident, I had been away from Facebook for a long time and Twitter and Instagram had been deleted from my phone. That didn’t stop me from checking out the last two apps through browsers or on my tablet, but my feeling of “Fuck this shit” had grown for years since I realized how aggravating it was to just play on my phone.
Of course, the reactions to the big moments from my favorite players and teams were fun to watch because who doesn’t love their nationally validated rooting interests? And that validation is really what we look for on social media. Likes, retweets, shares, re-shares, replies and the rest make us feel seen. Yet once that message falls out of circulation, the happiness wanes and you try to think of the next message, photo or video to pump endorphins into your brain. (I don’t know if endorphin is the correct word, but I’m trying to sound smart, so forget it/don’t google it.)
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Social media is a recurring cycle, and people would probably be happy to put it aside if it weren’t so addictive. I can say it was easy to quit social media and my quality of life immediately improved, but it took some serious discipline, and a few months to stop thinking about what’s going on and what makes me lack. (I have a LinkedIn account, but that’s the NA beer of social media platforms.)
It’s similar to a breakup in that at first it’s all you can think about, then gradually it’s less and less on your mind before you realize you’re happier and better without this toxicity in your life. life. I’m all for eliminating toxic aspects of my life, and nothing is more harmful than Twitter. (I was off Facebook before the 2016 election and didn’t try Truth Social, so don’t quote me on that.)
Journalists think they need it for their job, and I thought that too. While I may miss a highlight, story, or crazy idea for a column, I’ve found that if a story is extremely important, it will be picked up by any schmo ESPN pays to comb social media, and I’m I’ll see when it hits Google News. And honestly, it’s better to leave most things on Twitter aggregated than trying to squeeze 700 words out of it.
A scary experience
When I was on the Tweeter, I found myself hesitating to talk about a topic because the angle had already been taken by another writer. A year later, my gait did a 180, and there are two main reasons for that:
A. I’m not that important that anyone is going to care about overlapping opinions. Also, it is don’t contribute to the echo chamber if the plebs keep telling me – or at least that’s how I rationalize it.
And B. I feel like I can write better than most of these morons, which I couldn’t a year ago because I was so much more paralyzed by insecurity.
It’s hard to believe B while you still have a Twitter ID because there is a detractor for every tweet let alone a column. I remember writing a gushing article about Justin Jefferson and being called a jerk or some other insult to that effect. Who knows if I was wrong – Jefferson’s 2022 season makes me feel like I wasn’t – or if homedude was a bitter Packers fan, a bad day, or both, but it’s hard not to dwell on it.
My current approach to pleasing readers is the opposite, and I don’t care who gets offended as long as it illuminates the intended target (usually Philadelphia fans). Obviously, I want to be specific and avoid discrimination. Common sense keeps both of these in check for the most part, and my editors point out things that slip into the workflow.
It’s impossible to say if I’m a more popular writer, and I certainly don’t think I’m within a few columns of having an impact on the national discourse. I have no access to page views and no recruiter knocked on my door to hire me. What I have (I think) is the respect of my colleagues and the trust of my editors.
Judging by my quarterly reviews and the increasing creative freedom afforded to me, I believe I’m doing a pretty great job and advancing the career I want. Maybe if I had stayed the course and remained a Twitter user, the additional exposure would have accelerated my brand and footprint. At the same time, it’s more about being good on the internet than being a journalist. If you want a career outside of social media, look to influencer.
It’s extremely difficult to gauge progress without the concomitant increase in followers and likes, and part of me wonders what audience I might have attracted had I stayed on social media. Most journalists would be lying if they said, “It doesn’t matter if my work touches a million people or just one. However, you need to stick with it, otherwise the important stories will be pushed back to make way for clickbait.
Sports journalism existed long before social media, and it will exist long after Elon Musk has completely turned Twitter into his own personal toy. You can either stay aboard a sinking burning ship and say it’s destroying your career, or you can carry on like me and all the other people who have opted for blissful ignorance.