When I shut my Twitter account down on Tuesday, I remember thinking to myself: “My life is over”
And it was for me. Sometimes it still feels like it is. It’s been five days now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disconnected from the rest of the world than I do now. However, guilt for spending hours just poring through my timeline no longer plagues me and feelings of irrelevance and inadequacy no longer torture me when I don’t get new mentions, retweets or favorites. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired but I think if Twitterverse does not revolve around me then it should not exist…at least not to me. Now that right there is the thought train that sets me up for disappointment.
Not many people know that my Twitter was shut down and those that do don’t see the sense in it. Heck, sometimes I don’t see the sense in it. I think a lot of things set the stage for this deactivating and shutting down business. First, the guilt for spending so much time online, then this post I read on Kelly Minter’s blog, then this post I read on Living Proof Ministries’ blog, then finally this post on The Verge. By the time you’ve read all those posts you’ll probably want to shut your Twitter down too, spend less time on it or like Paul Miller leave the internet. I’m not in any way saying that Twitter is a bad “place”. I’m saying that Twitter is pretty much a reflection of real life. Sometimes it’s distorted and sometimes it’s accurate. I’m saying that there are some people I have met in real life through Twitter that I wish I had never met and there are those that I wouldn’t trade meeting them for anything in this world. Or the next. I’m saying that Twitter gives people the chance to be what they never got to be in real life: popular, witty, “loved”, and adequate and gives them an illusion of security or a pedestal to showcase their insecurity. Twitter allows you to judge a book by its cover or by its bio. Twitter gives you shrinks, doctors, relationship experts, buddies for what looks like free. All you really have to do is give up your real life for it. Twitter says “Have entertainment and a fun virtual life in exchange for entertainment and fun real life”
Maybe I have a serious case of lack of self-control here and I just don’t know how to balance real life with virtual life. Maybe I have more problems being present to the things that are happening around me in real life and I’m more alive to the things happening in my phone or my computer. I never want to miss a thing in Twitterville so that when I get with my real life friends we can talk about Twitter and ignore the things that are wrong with us in real life. More than half my conversations are punctuated with “Were you online when…” or “Did you see what Blah retweeted?” or “Why did you tweet this?” and I begin to address people by their Twitter handles instead of their first names. And my level of respect for you is directly proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter or how many times your depth (or lack of it) gets retweeted into my timeline. And I’d rather have you mention me than have you call me or I’d rather mention you than call you. Looking at it objectively, most of my existence for the last, what, 6 months has been poured into knowing the latest Twitter gist instead of knowing what’s going on with my friends, tweeting to complete strangers about my father instead of calling him up and asking how life is with him, looking out for interesting or witty stuff just so I can tweet about it. It makes me wonder if any of it is really worth it.
At this moment, I don’t know for sure that I want to delete my Twitter permanently…mostly because I’m scared that I will no longer be relevant than because I don’t want my followers to think that I’m dead. For now, I want to explore real life. I want to find a new coping mechanism, a new stress reliever, a new hobby. I like to try new stuff and maybe this is just a phase for me like Facebook was. But I want to bake cakes with my Aunt Tolu and know what’s going on in her life, I want Kiki to sniff my nail polish, like me and not bark at me so much, I want to have my mind in the room when my dad is talking to me, I want to be actively involved in conversations I have with Peju, Seun, Tobi, Seyi, Dunni, Femi and Dare, I want to experience the good stuff for myself no longer so I can tweet about it. Maybe some moments are meant to be treasured for me and me alone. And maybe some pictures are meant to be taken by me and for me alone not for some three hundred people that will never really know more about me than the fact that I talk too much, like red lipsticks and short boyish hair. Again I’m not saying that Twitter is a bad place and you should pack up, shut your Twitter down and follow me to the Promised Land. I’m saying: live-really live– your real life. Sammy says I might lose friends and contact with people that really care about me so if you’re one of them you can mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not turning into a hermit. I still post journal entries twice a week, I still laugh till I start to cry and my tummy hurts, I’m still in coffee rehab, I still post stories, poems and random stuff here on Learning to Breathe, I still read people’s blog posts, I still work at Aphroden, I still meet up with a bunch of guys Thursday evenings for Bible study, I still swim and I still like Rihanna’s hair. Oh and sadly, I still use a Blackberry.
Unfortunately, no one is paying me to stay off Twitter and blog about my new experiment (I would have liked that). I just want to explore this side of life so that if I ever decide to come back to Twitter, I can use it and not have it use me. In Jon Foreman’s words, I’m somewhere between who I am and who I could be, between how it is and how it should be.
Photo credit: http://www.arts.vcu.edu