I’ve talked about addiction to naughty substances and spicy drinks before, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. Instead, I briefly want to talk about another addiction that is equally as sinister and has a huge impact on my life, and quite possibly yours too. I am totally 100% powerless over my use of Twitter.
Regular listeners to my show The Late Night Alternative (weeknights from 10 on www.talkradio.co.uk kids!) will be aware I have a really shitty relationship with Twitter. I manage to ignore all of the love I am shown on there and absorb all of the hate. And there’s a lot of hate. I don’t if it’s because I am an actual c*** as I’ve been told many times on there, but I can have 100 positive tweets sent to me and 1 negative and guess what, I only see the negative tweet.
Yesterday I got involved in some argy bargy with someone I had offended and upset about 8 months ago. I was mortified that something I had tweeted had caused this other human being to be hurt on a very personal level. And while I only vaguely remember the exchange, it certainly was not my intention to cause him any more pain than he was already going through. I found myself getting angrier and more depressed and more desperate to somehow right the situation, to explain my point, to make everyone like me. I was out with my 6 year old son at the time. He was climbing a wall and exclaimed ‘Daddy, look at me’. To my shame, and I cringe thinking about this now, I didn’t turn my head. Instead I stared intently at my phone, pointed at him with my right hand and snapped ‘Not now son, Daddy is busy’.
What a horrible moment. I feel actual shame typing that.
Of course the argument wasn’t resolved. They very rarely are. Both of us went away feeling angry, upset, righteous and cursing out loud. That’s Twitter in a nutshell for me.
I’m halfway through the new Matt Haig book, ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’. It’s a cracking read and the spiritual sequel to his excellent ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. In the new book, social media is put under the spotlight. Does it really help us as much as we think its does? What are the positives and negatives? What if we maybe let go of it, just a little, would we as a species feel better?
Matt is an incredible writer, and in my opinion a pretty special human being. I have to thank anyone who writes and speaks honestly and openly about mental health. When I tentatively put my toe in the water and wrote a blog about my depression (you can have a peek here https://iainlee.com/wp/2015/02/04/what-i-mean-when-i-dont-say-im-depressed/ )I was overwhelmed by the responses. Most of them were positive, a few not so, but it was the outpouring of human stories that I couldn’t cope with. Strangers telling me of their suicide attempts, or how they’d lost a wife to depression, or what should they do to help their son who wouldn’t get out of bed? I was terrified by the 400 or so emails and I withdrew. I’ve been more vocal since but at a very measured pace. My head and soul can’t cope with everyone reaching out to me with their own stories. Not that I don’t appreciate the honesty and sharing, I really do, but I just have to sometimes back away for my own sanity.
The thing about Haig is he puts himself on the line on an almost daily basis. And he certainly gets a lot of flack. I see a review of his new book from the Times today basically takes the piss out of him for having depression instead of, I don’t know, reviewing the book. Nice move guys! Anyway, the book has got me thinking a lot about how I interact with social media. I keep saying to people ‘If I didn’t need Twitter to promote my show, I’de delete it’. But I don’t know if that’s actually true. I don’t think I can. Like I would find it almost impossible to throw away a gram of coke (although I have managed to do it on several desperate occasions) I just don’t think I could completely walk away from Twitter. 97,700 people follow me! That’s important! (I can’t tell you why it’s important though, another sign of addiction, putting forward weak arguments as to why you can’t stop).
So this weekend I am trying a compromise. I have deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone. I have blocked the Twitter and Facebook websites from my phone. I have blocked myself from downloading any new apps. My friend has typed in a 4 digit code to prevent me from unlocking those features. And…I…feel…terrible. Actually ill. Typing this is causing my chest to tighten, my fingers to tingle. A low level anxiety is settling in. All because of fucking Twitter! Jesus!
It’s only for this weekend to begin with and I can still access these websites on my laptop. But I certainly won’t be lugging my laptop to the park today, or booting it up as soon as the credits start to roll in the cinema. I don’t know. The 12 Steps have taught me that complete abstinence is the only way forward when it comes to drugs and alcohol and in the back of my head, I know that is probably the route I will have to follow to deal with my social media addiction. But like all addicts, I’m looking for an easy way out, a cheat if you will, that will allow me to have my cake and snort it.
I’ll let you know how the trial goes next week. And yes, I get the irony of me writing this blog and then tweeting about it to get you to read it. That’s dumb, isn’t it?
If you want to get Matt Haig’s new book ‘Notes On A nervous Planet’ (it is ace) then here are a couple of links you can buy it from.
Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notes-Nervous-Planet-Matt-Haig/dp/1786892677/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530356832&sr=8-1&keywords=matt+haig+nervous
Big Green Bookshop – http://www.biggreenbookshop.com/simon-likes-/notes-on-a-nervous-planet-by-matt-haig/prod_972.html
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I can relate to the sm addiction. I’ve withdrawn completely from Facebook, only lurk on insta and rarely use twitter. Like you say 100% abstinace us easier than a reduced usage. A tip I have is to only check sm once a day (usually the same time of day) and then don’t spend more than 30 mind online. Set a timer on you phone and keep to it. I’m now at 20 mins which is enough for the essentials. Good luck with your journey. Xena x
I can resonate a lot with this apart from the fact that unlike you, I have no talent, am not confident, am a failure (even though I hate other people telling me that because I tell myself that all the time), am not on twitter and often wish I was no longer in this world because I just don’t fit in. Russell Brand has a lot to say on this topic, not only is a he a great guy but as you are already aware he was a former drug addict who has now turned his life around. I have been meaning to buy his book ‘freedom from our addictions’ but haven’t got round to doing so, I personally feel that praying is the only real solution to all of this and am not referring to any specific religion here even though I am a Muslim myself. My addiction is spending hours on my laptop in the evening, I often listen to all of your show whilst applying for jobs and watching youtube at times etc. I stay on my laptop up until just after 2 and then when I do eventually hit the sack I am stuck on my phone reading news articles and doing anything to keep me from thinking about my problems. I then wake up during the middle of the night at times and am using my phone again or listening to music on my MP3, its non stop for me at times, I go to the gym when I can which helps me a lot but even when I am working I hate life and hate myself. Life is very hard but at least people like yourself can speak openly about the struggles of life as you have a platform for doing so, people who are constantly sending you mean and vicious messages without any apparent reason clearly don’t want to focus on their own life and are just using you as their punchbag to make themselves feel better. I ring your show a lot because it helps me forget about my problems, I know it must be as annoying as anything to have me ring in so I do apologise for that. I really hope you find a way through your problems though Iain, of many people out there you deserve to be happy and at peace. You at least have a lot going for you, not the same for a lot of us out here.
Waseem. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. I have been in a similar place emotionally for many years. It has been an uphill battle for most of my adult life. You can’t give up, you have to keep fighting. The same way Iain is always trying to find new ways to help himself move forward. I know it’s hard. Try to find a good doctor who understands your situation and truly cares about wanting to help you. They can then refer you on to specialists. You’ll need the right medication. You may have to try a few docs and meds, but eventually something will work. I don’t know how your health system works, cos I’m in Australia. Here, it is free for mental health patients at most clinics. Do you have at least nine family member or friend you trust whom you can talk to? If not, I’ll be your support buddy. Sorry to hijack your page Iain! I wish you all the best moving forward to Iain
Waseem. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. I have been in a similar place emotionally for many years. It has been an uphill battle for most of my adult life. You can’t give up, you have to keep fighting. The same way Iain is always trying to find new ways to help himself move forward. I know it’s hard. Try to find a good doctor who understands your situation and truly cares about wanting to help you. They can then refer you on to specialists. You’ll need the right medication. You may have to try a few docs and meds, but eventually something will work. I don’t know how your health system works, cos I’m in Australia. Here, it is free for mental health patients at most clinics. Do you have at least one family member or friend you trust whom you can talk to? If not, I’ll be your support buddy. Sorry to hijack your page Iain! I wish you all the best moving forward too Iain
Intresting read as always, But not digging the title for some reason, Anyways keep up the good work, all will fall into place
oneday when you least expect itx
Susan thank you for the reply, I just stumbled upon this page now to see if my response is still here and found your to mine. I really appreciate your kind words but the truth is that I have accepted that I no longer fit in anywhere, I will keep up the pretence of making out like I am very confident and strong to the outside world whilst dying inside. I don’t wish for a long life, am more or less done with this mean world and so many of its people even though there are good ones like yourself out here. This is not me saying I am going to kill myself as that is selfish and totally against my religion so I would never do it for those two reasons with religion being the first. Iain isn’t who I thought he was, he has banned me for criticizing him but I will leave it there and get on with my own life. I am not going to get worked up over a nobody plus am sure he has enough problems of his own. Take care sister and may God always be with you.