The thing I’ve always loved about the people I follow on Twitter is what they bring to my timeline: their curation, perspective, and criticism helps me learn. They bring a variety no editor can, but of late, my timeline has become rather unidimensional: it’s almost entirely about politics and news, and the OOTD (Outrage of the day). The problem with the outrage is that it usually makes for great conversation, and now dominates offline conversations if you have many friends who are active on Twitter. Which I do. I don’t want to be the one asking ‘so, what exactly happened?’, which is true of many of us.
But we need room to breathe, to think. Something a mentor said in a conversation earlier this month: he schedules his email and news reading because he needs contiguous free time to think. I also feel we need contiguous free time to do, which is a luxury that someone in my line of work (entrepreneur + journalist) doesn’t get.
So how do we deal with this? We take social media breaks, and schedule our usage, and block people who do the telemarketer thing: poor targeting with no respect for the other persons time.
Scheduling doesn’t quite address the other compelling problem. One thing that @mrajshekhar said to me a few years ago constantly worries me: at a time when I had become completely consumed with medianama, so much so that it was the only thing I’d talk about, Shekhar told me that I need to change, lest I become too unidimensional, which I never was. I’ve tried, not always successfully, but I’ve tried and keep trying.
The same thing, though, is happening on Twitter: the people I follow have become too newsy and too caught up in things of immediate concern (not necessarily of immediate importance). There are those who’re constantly posturing, sermonising, outraging, whether through tweets or retweets.
I was discussing this with Rishi Majumder in Mumbai, when we met at the Prithvi Theatre Festival: Twitter used to be my primary source for gigs, and for interesting things to do. Now, I invariably miss these gigs because of the flood of news, even from friends. I’m going to do two things, and I hope people won’t mind: I need more than a little room to breathe, and to discover more stuff that doesn’t feel like work. News does.
The third thing is that for my own sanity, I need a bit of positivity around me. There are people who’re negative and bring you down by what they say, not just to you. Then there are those who are positive, and make you believe that good things are possible. I need that bubble right now.
I’m going to create two lists: one for newsy folks, and one for temporarily unfollowed, for those who are going on a rant. This means I’m going to unfollow some people, and can only hope that they don’t treat it like a break-up (I’ve had that happen to me thrice already).
Then I’m going to follow people who do the artsy thing, because that’s the part that’s being crowded out.
p.s.: In case it wasn’t evident, I think I’m becoming to newsy too. Time for me to change too.