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?