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 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).
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.
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.