I am taking an indefinite hiatus from social media, namely Twitter and Instagram. If you’d like to follow my work or know what I’m doing on a regular basis, you can subscribe to The Reading or contact me via my website. Otherwise, you probably know me personally, and can contact me through the means available to you.
A few things have happened over the years to catalyze this: first, I was kicked off Facebook a couple years ago due to their transphobic real name policy. This year, my sibling, of gen z, left social media, as did my partner. And on New Year’s Day, after expressing a desire to leave, my partner had me watch The Social Dilemma, which cemented the decision I’m now telling you about.
This is not the first time I’ve thought about leaving, but it is the first time I’m making the decision to. In recent years, I’ve felt as though staying on social media would be better for my career. I’ve been afraid that no one would read my work if I wasn’t advocating for it on those platforms. I’ve felt responsible to reflect the power I’ve been given to do some good. I should have listened to what I wanted for myself. Alas. Well, I am doing it now.
While I worked in ad-tech and actually built the technical infrastructure that powers many of the ads you see online today, knowing how things worked never saved me from refreshing pages or composing thoughts in short chunks for later public consumption. Social media encouraged me to be meaner in my politics and to favor one minute factoids from people I didn’t know. It became my main news and political source. Impulsive consumerism, the rise of the alt-right, and the insurrection on Wednesday are the only logical outcomes of staying on these platforms. And every morning I logged on, twenty minutes would disappear without much effort. I can see how much of my energy I’m giving to platforms that ultimately just want to change my behavior at a level beyond my consciousness.
I decided to write about this, rather than quietly exiting, because I hope others, especially emerging writers who are coming up today, feel permission to remove themselves too. That it doesn’t have to be just people who are quirky or from another technological generation. That all of us, especially marginalized writers, can also claim the freedom of being inaccessible.
Teaching and writing The Reading weekly has changed my notion of where my very finite public energy should go and what it will do. Readers will share my writing with their friends. Students will take my classes. Moreover, the ways that I share myself through these channels have had palpable and positive impacts on the quality of my life.
I would rather be a presence that comforts or transforms your daily life—in an email or book—who comes to you through someone you love. I hope we will meet again there.