Conclusions from a Brief Experiment.

Last Sunday, I started an experiment on Twitter. Basically, I decided not to go onto the site for a week. I would still use ‘share’ buttons on any websites/blogs or topics I visited, but I’d stay away from reading and interacting on the site.

This came about when I realised how much of my creative time I’d been spending on there; indulging my passions for politics, secularity, humanism, and other issues, but not achieving anything tangible in terms of writing and/or influence.

It’s clear that the huge majority of discussions (mostly arguments) on Twitter achieve very little in terms of changing minds, since followers and those followed tend to condense into cliques filled with like-minded individuals.

It’s long been known that right-wing ‘thinkers’ are inflexible and may actually find it impossible to see any other point of view than their own. As someone who’s left of centre, my opinions on most political issues are never going to influence those I’d most like to persuade; the right wing. So, political activity on Twitter is often a waste of time (In conversation, we’d refer to it as a ‘waste of breath’).

Of course, when we care deeply about an issue, the chance of changing even one mind is grasped with hope. But, as a writer, perhaps I influence more minds through my fiction, and that’s where I should concentrate my efforts.

For those who like to see the results of any experiment, here is a list of some of the things I managed in the week:

Wrote and posted a protest poem.

Finished reading a novel and reviewed it.

Wrote and posted a poem on a social evil.

Wrote and posted a word post.

Wrote and submitted a flash story to a contest.

Created 29 new character sheets with pics and a descriptive table ready for details for future stories.

Prepared 37 photographs for submission to my Picfair gallery.

Dealt with 2 planning applications (although not part of my writing, the research and completion of these for the charity trust I chair took up significant time).

Read and reviewed a second book.

Added some marketing information to each of the sub-headers under my Books and Other Published Work tab on here.

Updated, deleted and/or reorganised many files on my PC.

Read a collection of poetry and reviewed it.

Kept up to date with emails, Facebook, Goodreads and other social media sites.

I would’ve done more, but I’m a little unwell at present (nothing serious, but it’s slowing me down!)

So, a positive result, it seems, in terms of work.

Did my absence have any negative effect on my Twitter profile? I started with 22,706 followers and now have 22,669, so lost 37 over the week, which may seem a lot, but I’ve noticed these things happen in batches often on Twitter: some people follow just to get you to follow them and then unfollow, hoping you won’t notice. Such people are in it for the numbers alone and are no value to a serious user of Twitter.

I was following 23,125 and that reduced to 23,094 after I checked on my return and ‘unfollowed’ those I’d followed earlier but who hadn’t followed back, a total of 31. No point following someone with no interest in you, unless they’re a national figure giving useful tweets or an organisation carrying information of interest to you.

So, in conclusion, I think my experiment has shown me that I can engage less in discussion on Twitter and lose nothing. In fact, although I lost some followers, I also gained new ones! I’ll be spending less time on Twitter in future and more time on creative activity.

15 thoughts on “Conclusions from a Brief Experiment.

  1. Before I had Cancer I interacted on Twitter a lot. I had Facebook and Twitter accounts. It was also the time when Twitter was less security conscious. All you needed was an email account and a password. Days before I started radiation treatments I closed the account for one simple reason: I was terrified I wasn’t going to live. 2.5 years after being declared Cancer free I wish I still had the account. Most of my relatives that don’t use FB cite security concerns. Twitter has since been hacked a number of times and to get an account you have to supply an active email account, a password, and your telephone number. That’s where I draw the line. Twitter has been hacked in spite of their improved security. Their inability to keep private info private makes me want to stay away from them. I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. If I knew of a good alternative to Twitter I ‘d give them a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand the security concerns, Tom. But much of the negativity around social media is hype. These sites have billions of users but the rate of actual infringement is tiny. The telephone number required now is used as a secondary source of checking in case of potential hacking: the hacker would need both your password and your phone number to get through to your account.
      But, I bet you’re producing more work now you’re free of the social media outlets, aren’t you? They can be a real trap.
      Hope the recovery from cancer continues.


  2. Stuart, I am one of those right-wing ‘thinkers’ but would never (with one exception on my blog) discuss my feelings (perhaps because my view of the left -wing thinkers mirrors that of yours about me. ) I just haven’t found many people who are willing to sit down and talk about meeting on common ground, and I’ve been called so many horrible names, I wouldn’t dare. Around here, if you put out a sign for a Republican candidate, it will be torn down, your car will get keyed, or your house can get vandalized. So much for common ground. It’s so sad that things have come to this. I do not manage my twitter account and would NEVER use it for political comments..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clearly, Noelle, there are exceptions that prove the rule, and you’re one of those. Of course, we are in different countries and the left wing here in UK is a significantly different animal from that viewed by the States. The right wing here is made up of prejudice, ignorance and a worship of wealth that is difficult for any rational person to understand. Here, anyone with an income under £100,000 has to be blind, ignorant or plain stupid to support our right wing government, which is largely run by millionaires, landowners and employers with little concern for the rights and welfare of the workers who make this elite rich.
      Sorry, high horse again. I’m passionate about injustice, which is what leads me to make political statements.
      I would love to be able to engage with them on ‘common ground’ but there is so little of that that it’s an almost impossible task.
      As for Twitter, your President uses it almost as an alternative to official Government channels, and our own indulges in a good deal of political misinformation. If I failed to respond, I’d feel I was betraying the people who actually make this country work; the workers.
      We will have to agree to differ, I guess. And continue our dialogue without overt political slant, eh?


  3. Good choice, free that twittering time with valuable things.
    I am one of those rarities nowadays that isn’t on any of these.
    I guess I could become a Twitter and send some of all my bird pictures. 😊 .


    Liked by 1 person

    1. You might be surprised how popular your bird photos would be on Twitter, Miriam.
      My own area of refusal to join in is the mobile phone. Although I own one, I switch it on only twice a day, just in case anyone has messaged me. Otherwise, it stays on the shelf, unless I’m driving, in which case it coms along in case of emergencies.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As writers, Damyanti, we’re easily tempted to have our say; words, after all, are our bread and butter. And procrastination is our most serious enemy, so a firm attitude to dealing with social media is an absolute necessity, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s what I’ll be doing in future, Darlene. Like you, I have my doubts about its value in marketing. However, it has proved effective in gaining exposure and introducing me to new potential readers.

      Liked by 1 person

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