I'm a big fan of Lent. I like the principles behind it and try and use it as a time of reflection and renewal in my own life. I try and add something to my daily practice to help with personal and spiritual reflection. I try and add something physical (push-ups for Jesus was a personal favorite.) And I try and eliminate something from my life that I feel has become outsized in my life. Sometimes that is a type of food, sometimes it is a behavior. This year, I focused on a behavior. I gave up Twitter for Lent.
When I first logged on to Twitter, I really enjoyed it. It felt like being in a really cool discussion with funny and interesting people. some have compared it to hanging out in a bar. I particularly liked it during sporting events. Most of my sports viewing is done at home, usually alone. My family might gather around for the "big game" but the Tuesday night White Sox v. Tigers game in the middle of May? Not so much. Twitter became a bit of a hang out.
I'm not sure when it changed, but it changed. It wasn't so much a hang out anymore, at least not a good one. In a lot of ways it was like being on a really shitty bus,where everyone, even the folks I didn't know, especially those I didn't know, were shouting at me. I know I chose who I follow, but that doesn't stop unwanted stuff from making its way through.
Yet, I still logged on, still checked out my feed multiple times a day. Even as the experience got worse, with ads, sponsored material, and "what you missed," I still kept checking in. Then the big change, Twitter in the age of Trump.
Checking Twitter became an exercise in machoism. It seemed like everyday, it often was everyday, that something new, outrageous, offensive or just plain stupid came from the president. I don't even follow the president, and yet his tweets are like computer virus that find their way in front of my eyeballs.
Watching sports become less enjoyable with Twitter than without. It felt like, and this happened before President Trump, that everyone tried to out snark each other. Or worse just wanted to shout anyone down that didn't agree. Or prove they were right about something that was, ultimately, trivial. Righteous anger became the calling card of Twitter. But I still logged on everyday.
Twitter became a habit. It kind of reminded me of smoking. Get up, check out Twitter. Waiting in a line, check out Twitter. Bored at work, take a Twitter break. Waiting for dinner to cook, check out Twitter.
So, Ash Wednesday, I quit, cold turkey. No Twitter during Lent, even on Sundays. I allowed myself to share any blogs I wrote, but I didn't go on Twitter, scrolling through the timeline. Nope, I completely left it alone.
Easter arrived yesterday and I was actually anticipating getting back on Twitter. As much as I tried to find other ways to find news, Google News, News Hog and a few others, nothing quite curated news quite as well as Twitter. After church, I checked out Twitter. The first 4 or 5 tweets I saw were ads. Then I saw a few retweets from people I follow, but nothing that interesting. I wasn't even on for five minutes and I turned it off.
I checked in a few more times over the course of the day, but it was just as anti-climatic as that first time back. It didn't seem new, or refreshed or interesting. It was just kind of there.
I won't say anything crazy like I'm going to delete Twitter or never log on again. But I'm kind of amazed at how little I actually missed it. Maybe as the White Sox start to play and Phish goes on tour I'll get a little more into it, but I honestly don't know. Twitter just feels like more noise now than before Lent. I managed to find some interesting articles to read via the noise today, but it was still cutting through the noise and I don't feel like I have to do that anymore.