Some not-so-bright morning

It dawned on me that I needed out.

Taking out one’s phone in church is not generally considered to be a reverent act, yet doing so to delete Twitter seemed excusable. I bypassed the self-imposed time limit on my browser (I had gotten rid of the app a while back), scrolled down the list of settings, and was warned that my account would be deleted in 30 days if I didn’t log in again. I hit the button. It was October 1st.

Earlier this week, my calendar app reminded me that I had just a few days left before my profile would autodestruct. Should an account I spent years building fall into oblivion?

The truth is, it already had. In a conversation with a Twitter-savvy colleague the next day, I brought up the fact that I was no longer on the platform. He went, “really? I didn’t notice.” If I needed any further confirmation that I was making the right choice, this was it.

My brain off Twitter

Deactivating Twitter, on the other hand, took 10 seconds. I couldn’t really say that “it seemed to be a good idea at the time.” I was afraid that it would turn out to be the worst decision of the year.

Almost immediately, however, I experienced a new level of lightheartedness. Coworkers commented on my cheerful mood out of the blue. As silly as it may sound, I frequently caught myself smiling for no reason. No other changes in my life could explain this shift — I’d been mostly stuck at home for months, like most everyone else.

It wasn’t just my mood that improved. I started having creative ideas for how to solve problems and use my time profitably. My attention span increased. I started expressing more nuanced perspectives and forming my own judgments when presented with news reports and policy ideas. That’s a little scary upon reflection: most of my judgments in my Twitter days stemmed from the loudest voices on my feed.

What comes after Twitter?

Objection #1: I will miss out on important news.

Objection #2: I will lose my Twitter friends.

Objection #3: I won’t have an outlet to share my work and thoughts.

Objection #4: It will hurt my career.

The seen and the unseen

But all this time, energy, and especially attention don’t need to be spent on Twitter. We can make those hours count in more ways that I could ever list here. We certainly don’t have to subject our already fast-decaying brains to the vagaries of a forty-something-year-old, mononymous chap from Silicon Valley who won’t dress appropriately to meet with our nation’s top elected officials. We can, and should, be leaders — not followers — and ignore the haters.

So, come on out! It’s beautiful outside. Real birds are chirping.

Health policy • Washington DC