"Just brushed my teeth". "Nearly 12 hours kip. Wowzers." Neither of these things is interesting, insightful or particularly funny. Yet these are things I've said, online, on Twitter, in recent memory, to my two-million-plus followers. What makes this worse is that people, in their hundreds, and sometimes in their thousands, have retweeted and favourited them over and over again, thereby spreading the inner inanity of my brain even further than it warranted in the first place. It's fine to bore ourselves, but must we continually bore everyone else too?
So: Dear the internet, I've got an announcement to make. I'm having a reboot, a digital do-over. I've been on Twitter since January 2009, and I'm tired of the digital diarrhoea that has spewed forth from my fingers in the 140 format. Over the last five years, I've tweeted over 54,000 times – an average of 27.47 times per day. From last night I've decided to erase my timeline and start over. I'm deleting all previous tweets and unfollowing the 1,600 people who clutter up my timeline. If I followed you on Twitter, chances are you have my number. Call me if you want to catch up.
I don't regret a single thing I've tweeted but I want to erase the past and start afresh. I've done a lot of my growing up in public; I've wrestled with a lot of demons, come to terms with many life-altering experiences and gotten married; most of, if not all, of which has been documented in some way shape or form on the internet. When I'm 80 years old sucking soup through a straw and my great grandkids are scrolling through my timeline, do I want them knowing I told two million people that I took a shit at 4pm on a Thursday? Not really.
I complain a lot, which is perhaps a birthright of mine as a British citizen, but is Twitter the place? How something is interpreted often has as much to do with the person reading it and their mood when reading. I don't spend my time angrily tweeting, it's often with a smile on my face, but this hasn't stopped many a tweet being taken out of context.
I want to use Twitter differently and I want to use it less. It has become a tic, an uncontrollable impulse. I check my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and email so many times a day that I'm scared to count.
And I'm not checking the latest situation in the Ukraine. Instead, I'm aimlessly, mindlessly, compulsively scrolling through pages of tedious, useless information. For every one tweet that is funny or interesting, there's 20 informed by boredom or impulse. I need to erase my mind as well as my Twitter feed.
Twitter isn't the problem. Used correctly (step forward Stephen Fry), it's a brilliant platform; it's just that lots of us use it incorrectly. We spew forth the mundane. We follow people we have no interest in. We've allowed it to take away, ironically, our "IRL" ("in real life") experience. We're so concerned with documenting our digital persona that we've forgotten to experience reality. There's now a generation of kids watching an entire gig through their phone. Rather than experiencing the experience, we're Instagramming it. Make memories people, not Vine videos.
The loss of grammar via social media and texting also bothers me. I left school in year eight, aged 13, so I'm no grammar Nazi. But basic punctuation seems to evade most people. And that's a scary reflection of where we're at as a society. I was bought up by my grandmother and my great-grandmother – Edie – who lived with us until she passed away when I was 13 years old. While my nan was out working three jobs, my great-grandma would read to me every single day. She'd read a page of a book to me, and I'd read a page of a book to her. Tucked up in her bed, top to tail, was one of my favourite places. Reading with Edie provided me with amazing memories and meant I associated reading with warmth and love. I was a voracious reader then, getting lost in Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which Edie and I would read together. Can grandparents or great-grandparents relate to kids with Minecraft? Admittedly, I don't read as much as I should now, because I'm taking pictures of everything I eat, when I could have read The Goldfinch and tweeted about that instead.
It's time to be more considered. Instead of sitting on my phone, I'm going to do things that benefit my mind; read a book, go to an art gallery, meet a mate for a coffee. That's where my head is at. It's the same with everything in life; balance. I hope, with this reboot, I can find that balance. And, finally, read a good book. I think Edie would like that too.
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