Better things to do

I got rid of social media from my phone.

Facebook I already deleted a year or two ago, and I hardly ever look at it these days. What a waste of time that was. It opened up huge pockets of time!

I’ve never looked at Instagram much. I just post pictures of things that I like to have at hand quickly. I kind of use Instagram as a highlight drawer of memorable pictures than as a social platform. Since I don’t use it much anyway, and I don’t think you can post from the website, this app can stay. It doesn’t waste my time. I did go through a round of ‘unfollowing’ this evening. I didn’t care about most of the things I followed (any longer?).

Now Twitter. This may be the most time-slurping beast, and even though it is called a social platform, there is very little social about it. A bloody mudslinging competition, is what it is. Republicans versus democrats that want to rip each others guts out (where the hell is Trump by the way?). Or Brexiteers versus those that would have wanted things to be different (why is Johnson still around by the way?). Or a competition between all of those that ‘have it the worst’ in the pandemic (people – is the glass half full or half empty?). But perhaps the most dominant in my timeline is the ongoing race between the people that are all victimized the most by academic system (as a straight, white, cis male from western Europe I cannot really adopt a credible victim mentality, so I’m out). Although I think many of these problems are very real and important, but I also think we’re all becoming too sensitive – and Twitter is not making that any better.

Then why am I on Twitter? Content? Basically Twitter is filled with people that are all whoring for attention. I have no better way of phrasing it. And I’m guitly as charged. I’ve been sharing things on Twitter in the hope to gain a like or two. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with that. The world is all about grabbing attention these days. In a way it is a skill that could be useful. What is not in any way useful is the mindless scrolling, which became a bit of a habit for me (and admit it, to all of you too). Every minute that I did not have anything better to do, I grabbed the phone and started scrolling. Like an automated slave to Twitter. This is, of course, exactly what Twitter was designed to do. And at the end of two hours scrolling, you’ll maybe learn of two or three interesting papers (that would have otherwise reached you via researchgate or whatever). And a lot of time down the drain.

I have completely deleted Twitter from my life twice before. That is, I used to have two accounts, for two different purposes. I deleted both in 2012 or so. It was fairly obvious at the time that most of Twitter was posted by bots. I found it to have little value. For about five years, I did not look at Twitter, ever. Then during my PhD all my colleagues tried to convince me about how important outreach was. I have to say here that it took a bit of convincing to get me back, after the prior bad experiences. But I was willing to give it a shot, for the purpose of scientific outreach. (outreach is important in many ways, but BOUNDARIES!!). Now, my Twitter at this time, has – I think – no bots. But somehow, the way the algorithms work, I get an endless stream of misery every day, and time and time again I find myself being dragged down the rabbit hole of whatever shitstorm I find myself reading from start to end this time. What a waste of time.

One of the major complaints that I read on Twitter is also that people, because of the pandemic, because of academia, because of *fill in blank* do not have enough time. If you have to post it on Twitter, you probably have time. Spend it more wisely.

So for now, bye bye to Twitter on my phone, I’ll give it a quick scroll at the end of the work day. Five minutes should be enough to give me those three important papers of the day. The rest of the day I can spend on things that matter to me.

Oh, and of course I’ll use the WordPress plugin to share this on Twitter. No phone needed! I’m only half hypocrite ;).

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of one but almost two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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