The Last Time Social Media Sparked Pure, Unbridled Joy
Twitter again. Yeah, I know…
Apologies for the low effort post, but it’s half term and it’s a lot trickier to get stuff done with the little darlings all in my business.
I just read a very good post on the excellent Garbage Day substack. It details the decline of the big social media platforms and references some apt factors that make Twitter more and more miserable. While I’m not the go-to guy for online trends, I’d put a few quid on Elon Musk not being the solution to any of this.
I’ve been logged off from Twitter for over a month now and feel reasonably confident that I won’t be logging back in. I might even be closer to binning the whole thing. It’s not so much that my life has been haribo-coloured unicorns since then but it has been less adversarial. I like people and, as I have pointed out before, people don’t go online, their thoughts go online.
The post on Garbage Day also helped me to channel my inner Maria Kondo and ask myself when social media last sparked joy within me. I could mention the times something joyful happened within my life that I then shared but the social media aspect was never the joyful part of that moment.
I genuinely think that the last time I found social media to be joyful was a Sunday evening on the eve of the London Olympics. It was this evening that the whole of the UK seemed to be utterly enraptured by the possibility of a lion on the loose near a caravan park in Essex. If I remember rightly, the lion ended up being one of those large toys that you see at the top shelf of a fairground stall, the kind that people only end up winning in films. The emergency services took it more seriously, sending police marksmen to the scene.
Despite this, all I can remember is that, for a couple of hours, everybody on twitter seemed to forget whatever argument they were having and revelled in the joy of a lion lording about Essex. Within minutes there was an Essex Lion twitter account with thousands of followers. Everybody was posting their own take on the cross section between apex predators and the cockney diaspora. Strangers were chortling away at each other’s posts and clicking likes all over the shop.
The great Essex Lion Reverie could have only happened on twitter in how it dominated everything for a few hours and then vanished. I’m not sure it could ever happen again, not in this way, although a hoo-ha about 30-50 feral hogs got pretty close. Nowadays people stay on twitter because they genuinely love a good row or they feel they are obligated to for career reasons. The latter point is especially apt for writers who are often encouraged onto posting on the network by their publishers. I’m sure I’d pick up a few readers if I kept at it, but I think putting more time and effort into my writing will help me build an online space that others might want to spend a bit of time in. For now I’m happy to forgo the future happiness of anticipated clout for the happiness of not being addicted to an online MMO whose virtual currency is unlimited rage mined from ideological division.
Apologies again for the sparseness of posts this week. Tomorrow, I’m going to record a podcast where I read some poems and talk a bit about art. Have a good one.