A Challenge after a 40-day Cleanse

Faithful readers know that I recently went through a 40-day social media cleanse. That meant no checking my Twitter feed, no Facebook, no Instagram, and no LinkedIn. I do have a SnapChat and a TikTok, but I rarely use them.

At first. I had a bit of difficulty. I keep my phone in my back pocket, every time I took it out, I saw an alert. There are certain things I do in a sitting position that cause my phone to drop out of my pocket. That’s when I automatically check what’s going on in my streams.

Instead, I focused on Newspapers, blog posts, and television news.

Here’s the top five things I learned from my 40-day social media cleanse:

Spoiler, I saved the most important one for last.

I wasted a lot of time on social media.

I thought I approached social media with discipline. But, without social media, I finished the first edit of my next novel; I pieced together a quilt, and I crocheted an afghan. I still got my blog posts out, and I found a new way to share what others write. Instead of just hitting the “Buffer” button, I introduced some of my favorite reads by sharing them here.

I missed people.

I missed my birds-of-a-feather on Facebook. I missed seeing new baby pictures and announcements. I mean Whaat? Jasmine is expecting her second baby and it’s a boy?! I missed some of my favorite tweeters, especially sister authors and #writerslift. I even missed checking in with former colleagues on LinkedIn.

I’m not sure if anyone missed me, or even noticed I was gone.

close up shot of scrabble tiles on a white surface
Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

Building a platform is more satisfying in alternate ways.

I spent more time talking to people. I spent more time e-mailing. I spent more time reading new blogs. I plan to keep these new habits because it’s so much more satisfying than 280 characters. Although, I admit, I enjoy the challenge of concise thought communication.

Things were more toxic than I thought.

My streams are mostly other readers, writers, bloggers, and, of course, family and friends. I don’t see a lot of conspiracy-ladened posts or misinformation. I’d hop over and see what was trending, just so I knew, but that was it. Still, without social media, I felt lighter, less anxious, less cynical. I realized I didn’t need to know what was going on in Will Smith’s life or Johnny Depp’s.

Social media makes journalists lazy.

Especially Twitter. Yes, despite my cleanse, I saw tweet after tweet on television news and in newspaper articles. My social media cleanse really made me aware of how much our trusted media uses social media as a source.

  • Twitter currently has 396.5 million users, 391 million have no followers.
  • 206 million users access Twitter daily. 75% of them are not based in the US
  • Twitter is most popular among users aged 25-34
  • 8.85% of the worldwide social media users access Twitter
  • Worldwide, 70% of Twitter users are men
  • In the US, 92% of tweets come from the top 10% of users
  • 83% of world leaders are on Twitter
  • Journalists make up almost 25% of Twitter users
  • 12% of Americans say they get their news via Twitter
  • The average user is on Twitter for 6 minutes a day

I challenge FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC to a social media cleanse

The skewed demographics of Twitter users sure seem to be affecting what we learn about the world through more conventional news outlets. It’s an echo chamber of youngish white men who are dominated by the voices of the 10% who grab attention from users for about six minutes every day.

Twitter makes it easy to find news, to keep the buzz going, and to get outlandish quotes. Real journalism takes time and patience. I wonder what our news might look like without Tweets pointing the way.