A Tale of Two Twitters: Slice of Life

For a long time, my Twitter feed was a source of joy. Over the years, I have fine-tuned it to exactly the right frequencies for my purposes: learning, growing, challenging myself. Every dip in the river of the feed brings new insights and perspectives, a new invitation to push my thinking. Although the focus is activism and social justice, there has also been a lot of humor.

But over the past few years, with one crisis after another demanding study, my Twitter feed lost its joy. With every new crisis, there was another round of experts added to the activists and educators I follow. I was continuing to learn every time I opened Twitter–but also engaging in hours of doomscrolling that left me anxious and hopeless. I thought about Marie Kondo’ing my feed and unfollowing every account that didn’t spark joy, but that would destroy the feed that I had so carefully crafted over many years. I still wanted to learn–just not all the time.

My solution to the problem of too much doomscrolling was perhaps paradoxical: rather than deleting Twitter, I created a second Twitter account.

My second Twitter is a refuge. It’s all paintings and book stacks and tree-lined roads and extreme cat content and poetry and nature photography and letters and washi tape and Wordle and inspiring quotations and writing tips plus paintings of cats and cats with books and cats on roads and cats in poetry and quotations about cats and. . . you get the idea. Oh, and labor organizing thanks to all the tweets I have liked from @JortstheCat. I now know far more about labor organizing than I ever imagined I would!

There is no news or commentary (besides the latest union-busting from Amazon and Starbucks). No education or schooling. Nothing that reminds me of work. Nothing that produces anxiety or fear or hopelessness. Nothing that makes my brain work too hard. I didn’t know social media could be restful, but this Twitter feed manages to be restful.

One thing I didn’t expect about my second Twitter is how easy it is to turn it off. Doomscrolling seems to demand a constant refresh: I get stuck and can’t seem to disentangle myself. One horror leads to another, and I cannot turn away. When I’m not on, I’m thinking about getting on to find out what’s happening. But I can dip in and out of joyscrolling with so much more ease. I skim for a few minutes, then set my phone down, feeling refreshed.

For about a month, I detoxed from doomscrolling. Whenever I felt like scrolling, I only allowed myself to check my new Twitter. I had no idea what was going on in the world–and I didn’t miss knowing as much as I thought I would.

I did, however, feel terribly guilty for checking out. I think it’s vital to be informed–yet I also think that our brains weren’t meant to process and carry so very many crises at once.

I realized that being so active on Twitter makes me feel like I’m doing something, taking some kind of meaningful action in the world–even though all I’m doing is consuming more content and liking and retweeting other people’s content. Detoxing from doomscrolling has helped me have a clearer perspective on what it might mean to take action. I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like for me, but lowering my anxiety and overall despair at the state of the world has opened up space and energy.

Now I’m using both feeds in smaller doses and striving for balance–the information and perspectives I need to learn and grow; the rest I need to recharge; and the time I need to take more meaningful action in the world.

What do you do to manage social media and reign in the doomscrolling?





15 responses to “A Tale of Two Twitters: Slice of Life”

  1. Leigh Anne Eck Avatar
    Leigh Anne Eck

    This is a wonderful–and smart–idea! I have lost the joy in Twitter, so maybe I should try this too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s been so lovely to have such a calming, restful, and beautiful space (all that nature and art!) to relax into when I need a little break. Teacher Twitter is–for good reasons–not a particularly joyful place right now!

  2. Trish Avatar

    Two quotes that will stay with me, and worth pondering, truly: “I still wanted to learn—just not all the time,” and “I can dip in and out of joyscrolling with so much more ease.” I’m thinking we confuse gathering information with actually doing something to change things (you note that, too) and that we are so quick to minimize the presence of JOY, of beauty. You’ve given my notebook noodling inspiration here, for sure!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes! The pursuit of joy and beauty feels like I’m not being serious and caring about the world, but I think just the opposite is true! And I most definitely confuse getting more information with actually doing something–all the time.

  3. Terje Avatar

    I am impressed for the curating you have done with your two Twitter feeds. I joy scroll on Instagram. I limit my time there and also on Twitter. I have also limited following newsfeeds. It might still be too much.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think it’s very wise to have joyscrolling on a different platform altogether!

  4. arjeha Avatar

    There is only so much doom scrolling a person can take. I don’t have a twitter account but I have taken to watching the nightly news every night. I really like your solution. Having a happy scroll sounds like something many people can benefit from.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It is so wise to limit social media! I think I would most like to take in news in a podcast format so once I want more news, I may try that.

  5. writingandlaughing Avatar

    So wise. The beauty finding can certainly outweigh the doomscrolling if we let it! Thanks for sharing your solution.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      “Beauty finding”–I love that!

  6. carwilc Avatar

    I love Twitter and find tons of great resources, but right now, I’m really struggling with all of the people who are complaining about how hard teaching is and wanting to leave, etc. I know it’s really, really hard right now (and live it every day) but it doesn’t help me to complain about it. Your idea is really smart! I may have to try it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Agreed! This is the hardest year, and I understand all the complaints–I’m living it too. When I’m not living it at work, I need a break from it! I have been really missing all the great resources I find on Twitter, though, so I need to be able to find a balance.

  7. Ramona Avatar

    So much food for thought. Especially in these words: “balance–the . . . need to learn and grow; the rest I need to recharge; and the time I need to take more meaningful action in the world.”
    I love that joy scrolling is easy to stop and leaves you feeling refreshed.

  8. karpenglish Avatar

    I love the term “joyscrolling.” I am going to tell everyone I know about that! I stay off of Twitter (except occasionally visiting to check in on Jorts the Cat, because his story made me laugh so hard that I fell off the sofa when I read it to my husband, and it had been a long time since I had felt that joyful). I curated my Instagram account in the same way, though. Lots and lots of cats, and art, and some more cats, and yarn, and poetry, and LEGO. I use other accounts to keep tabs on friends and family, and I use my news apps for doomscrolling until I am in a terrified ball. My happy art-yarn-cat-poetry-LEGO account is relaxing and turns me away from doomscrolling. I did add a few teacher accounts in for humor and tips, but sometimes that tips too far back into the “education is a disaster this year” area, so I may need to adjust that ratio. Closely curating has made Instagram a pleasant digital refuge for me. My son even sometimes tells me, “Mom, it’s time to go look at a box of kittens.”

  9. natashadomina Avatar

    I love your term “joyscrolling”. What a great concept. You’ve gotten me thinking about how I can cultivate more opportunities for that.

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