Do you use social media? If so, would you ever consider disconnecting from a particular platform you use now, or leaving all your social media feeds entirely? What do you think you would gain or lose?
In the Opinion essay “I Quit Twitter and It Feels Great,” Lindy West writes about quitting Twitter more than a year ago:
To be clear, it’s not brave to quit Twitter, or righteous (I’m still on Facebook, which is just a differently shaped moral stockyard), or noteworthy. Quitting Twitter is just a thing that you can do. I mention it only because there was a time when I didn’t think it was a thing that I could do, and then I did it, and now my life is better.
I’m frequently approached by colleagues, usually women, who ask me about quitting Twitter with hushed titillation, as if I’ve escaped a cult or broken a particularly seductive taboo. Well, here’s what my new life is like: I don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach every day, dreading what horrors accrued in my phone overnight. I don’t get dragged into protracted, bad-faith arguments with teenage boys about whether poor people deserve medical care, or whether putting nice guys in the friend zone is a hate crime. I don’t spend hours every week blocking and reporting trolls and screen-grabbing abuse in case it someday escalates into a credible threat. I no longer feel like my brain is trapped in a centrifuge filled with swastikas and Alex Jones’s spittle. Time is finite, and now I have more of it.
At the same time, I know this conversation is more complicated than that. I’ve lost a large platform to self-promote and make professional connections, which isn’t something many writers can afford to give up (less established writers and marginalized writers most of all — in a horrid irony, the same writers disproportionately abused on Twitter). I get my news on a slight delay. I seethe at the perception that I ceded any ground to trolls trying to push me out. I will probably never persuade RuPaul to be my friend. Also, I loved Twitter. Twitter is funny and smart and validating and cathartic. It feels, when you are embroiled in it, like the place where everything is happening. (Scoff if you like, but the president of the United States makes major policy announcements there. This is the world now.)
Students: Read the entire essay, then tell us:
— What are your thoughts on the experiences Ms. West says she’s had while using Twitter and after she stopped using her account?
— Is Twitter a form of social media that you use regularly? What other platforms do you use? Are there any you’d consider quitting? Why?
— Would you ever consider giving up all social media for a short time?
— What about permanently giving it up?
— Ms. West mentions that because she’s a writer, there is an expectation that she engage with the “discourse” taking place on social media as well as use social media to network. Do you think your career will require you to maintain a social media presence? How do you feel about that?
— She also says she has more time as a result of giving up Twitter. What are your thoughts about that?
— What do you think would happen if everyone stopped using social media?