* This post is old *
I’m writing this post more as a statement than anything else and before I dive in I will firstly say that I am fine. This is not a publicity stunt, attention grab or an attempt to cause arguments or bad feelings. I thought I would lay out in length and hopefully clarify why I have decided to take a short break from Twitter; something I have been envisioning on and off for around three months because the truth is, I have been running hot on the platform since April 2020 and I am mentally tired.
By running hot I mean that in 16 months my efforts and time on the platform has increased by probably twentyfold at least while the rewards I got for it are very much apparent. Back in April 2020 I had around 4,000 Twitter followers. The last time I checked, I have around 13,500. This is partly testament to the effort I have put in to converse and connect with so many creatives, readers, friends and anyone else on a daily basis. These wonderful people buy my books regularly and read this here blog regularly and engage with me every day – most importantly they are probably the biggest reason for my social media success.
The personal connections are the main reason why I am already planning my return because simply walking away from so many wonderful people is not who I am. When I announced I was taking a break, so many good people wished me well, if you are one of them, thank you.
This incredible journey I have been on has also contained the odd pitfall – anything worthwhile will always have challenges and to jump to the numbers I have now is something I have always been able to process. Twitter for the most part has become partly an addiction (a healthy one, mind) but only because I was getting good results and I was getting better at it – the statistics do not lie. The style that I developed over time works well to drive engagement and I figured out the psychology of the platform while making some awesome connections who have helped me big time on this path. To successfully sell anything on social media takes a lot of effort because the algorithms are so so against you pretty much all the time – this is a mental minefield on its own and statistics don’t always tell you what’s going on under the hood because after all I am a human of the regular persuasion.
The last 16 months were intensive for a number of reasons. In that time I released Book 6 and then Book 7 – with 7 becoming the most intense editing experience of my life – I had to get Consistent Creative Content right, and I did. I also began eyeing up the concept of reaching 10,000 followers right around the time ‘CCC’ was released after a lengthy pre-order run and so things were just happening all at once. This is also without taking note of what was going on in the outside pandemic world. Part of my reason for upping my author social media game was because the pandemic gave me time to do so. I used the time I was given to thrive on social media.
When I did reach 10,000 follows, a huge amount of self-pressure lifted. I had made it into a club that as an indie author who started from zero is rare. Most of my followers are folks just like me and my appeal is probably because I am still one of them and what I can achieve is possible for them too, it really is and I am public about that, not to mention open and honest. Together we made my Twitter a good place to be everyday. But under the hood things were kind of struggling for me and that 10k milestone paved over some cracks but I continued forth. My book had just been released and there is always work to be done but I always knew the chase on social media is endless and Twitter moves quickly, very quickly.
I can count on one hand the amount of bad experiences I’ve had on Twitter. I know what stirs pleasant conversation so I tend to not have many bad moments. I don’t go looking for them and at the very core of my belief is to post something that informs, inspires or entertains without any malice. You might even see my attempt at humour but very much in an inclusive light dad-joke style. If you are kind and pleasant no matter what flag you fly or where you are from, you are welcome on here and even in my own home – that will always be who I am. I do my best to bring that attitude onto Twitter and you might have seen me talk about the power of positivity, it tends to win the day most of the time.
Before I figured out the psychology of my following or even built it I always knew that Twitter was and still is a very public place where anyone can comment or find you anonymously. I’ve even described it personally as a ‘cesspit’ before and for nearly 16 months, to me it wasn’t because I had made it pleasant for me and my followers helped with that. Perhaps I was a little naïve and perhaps I haven’t adjusted my style too much over the last 16 months which might have left me vulnerable in my own head because there are types out there who have the opposite attitude to me and three separate incidents occurred in quick sucession that ultimately drove me to walk away from Twitter temporarily – and that is with the last 16 months piled on top. I say temporarily because most of the time I tend to get pissed off with something, then I process and then I dive back in quickly. And my followers mean too much to me right now to permanently walk away.
This post is me processing because I know there will always be trolls or less desirable folks who in my opinion probably need help but instead they’ll try to drag people like me into their bullshit or their problems. This is not just me being some privileged guy having a whine because someone randomer said something I didn’t like. I’m not easily offended and I am big enough to handle 10,000 people downloading my book in day and then dealing with the influx of low ratings after. I also know there are a lot worse things happening in the world but to me, my mental health will always come first so I have to process this on my home turf and like I said at the start I am fine but this is me intervening to keep my very stable mental health just that. .
These three incidents that occurred were unprovoked because like I said, my tweets have zero malice. I am on Twitter to connect and learn with others and find a readership for my books. I’m an author first and foremost, not a social media personality, I got into writing before social media existed and ultimately it’s a resultant of that. I had been eyeing up a break from the platform since May but these incidents were probably the motivating factor to tell me it is just Twitter and I don’t need it right now.
And for anyone ever struggling with Twitter, remember that sometimes it is just Twitter. You come first.
So what happened and who did what? The specific details of who aren’t important and it wasn’t you that pushed me to take a break. In fact the three incidents were from non-followers which might have been why I reacted the way I have. I won’t give you specifics but I will tell you now from when I return to Twitter, my style will now be adjusted to one of a larger following. I was once a small business operating like a small business, but now I have grown, my approach will change it. I’m going to act like a bigger business and I have to be shrewd to protect me. This will include 3 rules that are for me to follow in order to protect myself and my mental health while using the platform.
- If someone attempts to correct me in any way, including my spelling they are gone. (blocked, gone sounds more dramatic);
- If someone attempts to make a funny comment that is actually a back handed insult or I cannot grasp their tone in that comment, they are gone;
- If someone attempts to spin what I say, gone.
I know as an author and blogger I sit in a very glass house and I’m not attempting to control anyone or silence anyone because this approach is to protect me and life is too short for me to be effected by people who don’t know how to converse properly on a platform designed for conversation. By glass house I mean anyone can hop on over to where my books are listed and drop a low rating – this is part of the reason why I am the way I am on social media and these three rules ultimately depend on how well someone knows me and how we interact. The majority of my wonderful following could do all three of these and as long as they are honest and decent, I probably won’t even bat an eyelid or we might even laugh about it. I am also going to look into privacy settings but approving every single follower will be a lot of time. My current daily follow rate was north of 50 a day and 90 on weekends. It is still moving up now and this is after a whole day of me not tweeting a single thing.
Personally, these rules are basic conversation etiquette and for a lack of it to come from non-followers really surprised me or maybe it just proved I have become naïve to trolls or maybe this even the sign of true prominence. I know this world is full of bad people and I am wise to that but maybe now because of my following I am a target. I also know that I cannot control others but I can shield myself from them. My larger following is an opportunity to some folk who dwell under bridges it seems and like I said, I don’t tweet about anything that deserves this behaviour. One account literally followed me minutes before backhandedly insulting me on a tweet I composed as a light-hearted humour attempt, that account then disappeared after I reported it for abuse.
Number 3 in particular is something that surprised me also but it happened twice in a week. Trying to spin my non-malicious words into something malicious will earn you a block. I am not a politician or a billionaire so stop trying to spin what I say like a cheap journalist. If someone is that insecure about what I say, then the problem is with them not me. Yes, Twitter is a public highway with freedom of speech which I fully support, and you could just tell me to grow up here but I will counter with just two words that define what all humans should be able to do:
There is a human behind that handle and following. Above all, I have spent a lot of time on the platform and I can see through words, very well.
I take my online author endeavours seriously and authoring will be my primary career one day. Above all, I am adjusting my style to protect my mental health which has dipped partly because I ran hard for so long and partly because unpleasant people do not deserve me. Now I’m having a week away and very much enjoying being a writer. My mind and imagination is my greatest asset and I will do anything to protect it. Right now I am deep into editing the book I began this writing journey with back when I was 12, its way more important than a few random trolls trying to get a reaction. The writing matters, it always will.
In 16 months I gave everything to putting together a loyal engaged following on Twitter.
All of you who do follow me are worth that everything.
You can expect to see me return to Twitter late next week to do battle with the algorithms and be with the people who made this journey worthwhile. Thank you for reading.
5 thoughts on “Taking a Break from Twitter…”
Lee, I’m so sorry you are experiencing this. I fully support any decision you make regarding your online following. Your presence on Twitter is always fun, light, informative, and entertaining. I hate that people made you uncomfortable. That’s so undeserving. Hang in there, buddy. We all got your back!
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Thank you Dan, that means a lot 👍
Take some time, drink some beer, watch some sunsets. Let your flesh and blood friends and family remind you why you put yourself out there.
I’ll be glad to see you back.
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You’re taking a really important step, and you’ve done so much hard work. Fully 100% support this decision. It can be hard to know what to do/how to do what is needed for one’s mental health. Take all the time you need; we’ll be here when you get back!
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