When there’s bad news, I’m always in the same place. I’ve just woken up, I’m in bed and I’m on Twitter.
It’s where I was when my heart broke upon learning the Conservatives had won the 2019 General Election. When the January 6th Capitol Riots happened, I had watched a dozen videos before my first cup of coffee. And I was still under my warm duvet when I learnt of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and panicked over fears of nuclear annihilation.
I average anywhere between 12 and 16 hours of social media usage per week, of which most of that is scrolling through Twitter. When you take out 8 hours of sleep, 16 hours is a full waking day. That’s a whole lot of wasted time. On Monday alone, I spent over three hours on social media — 2 hours 17 minutes on Twitter.
Bear in mind, I’m a lurker, not a poster. Every morning I start the day by microwaving my brain with the hottest takes, and I don’t even engage in any cathartic dunking with a quippy quote tweet to maintain an equilibrium.
What’s hard about admitting this is a problem for me is that I needed social media to find who I am today. The combination of a university education, working in an academic library and creating a Twitter account were all necessary to realise that my secondary school education and upbringing had enclosed me in a conservative bubble. And whilst going to university and working in a library had pivotal roles in bursting that bubble, Twitter (embarrassingly?) did much of the heavy lifting.
One of the biggest pros of social media is that it grants us all access to a wide array of perspectives. Not all perspectives are equal, of course. Disinformation is rife and spreads like wildfire, for example. But we can find trustworthy and intelligent voices on these platforms.
However, the bubble has long since burst and it’s time to re-evaluate my relationship with social media. I must be responsible for my own education beyond what the social media algorithms push in front of me. Especially now that I’m growing more aware of the negative effect it is having on my mental health.