This article by Stewart Lee, ostensibly about Britain’s Got Talent but really about Twitter and its inability to cope with nuance, focused my mind on something I’ve been thinking about for a while: giving up the Twitter.
I’d be no loss to the service, only have a few followers, and I’m not looking for sympathetic pleas to stay. Over the past few months, I’ve felt as if I’m coming to the end of a phase, and come September will be entering a new one. I’ve been teaching a variety of creative subjects for a few years (Media, Film, Creative Writing), but after a sequence of events, that’s coming to an end. I’m starting a new job, and after nine years of teaching Media etc., I’m becoming a bog-standard English teacher. (Nine years, incidentally, is the longest time I’ve done anything.)
I follow many of the people I do on the Twitter for professional reasons. They work or comment upon the media, or they are writers, or they’re into nerdy film stuff. Strip those away and you have a few friends/acquaintances and people I have followed maybe because they follow me, but not much else. Come September, I’m going to be teaching English instead of those creative subjects, and right now it really appears as if the opportunity to teach anything other than English will not come again. The climate has changed. I had hopes that if the Tories didn’t get back in, things might change again, but they did and so they won’t. Another five years of this. Batten down the hatches, focus on the earliest possible opportunity to retire, and try to survive.
One of the things I’ve been telling my students for a long time is that Twitter is really a giant echo chamber. Nobody gets their mind changed on Twitter, and quite a lot of the time people are saying the same things over and over again. And it can be like clockwork. On a Sunday morning, for some reason, a lot of people seem to watch Andrew Marr on telly in order to get enraged. In the morning, a lot of people listen to Radio 4 and get enraged. On a Thursday (?) a lot of people watch Question Time and get enraged. During the week, people get enraged about other stuff. Sexism, racism. Poetry, commentary. Sometimes, people die, and everyone posts something.
An echo chamber. Sometimes you join in, sometimes you don’t. It can get irritating, which added to all the rage just becomes a bit depressing. I’ve been muting so much stuff lately that’s there’s very little left.
It has its positive side. It’s how you know what’s going on in the world. You feel in touch with current events. But – and I’ve blogged about this before – knowing what’s happening in the world doesn’t really add to the sum of human happiness. The best thing that Twitter does is make you laugh, but is that enough?
Maybe I just need a break from it, who knows? Maybe I’ll take a break and maybe I won’t come back. Perhaps it’s such an addiction that I won’t be able to stay away. To be honest, I wonder why I’d bother keeping an iPhone if I’m not using Twitter (for listening to podcasts, but I could do that on an iPod Touch or iPad Mini).
There are five weeks till the end of term. I’ll play it by ear.