The prominent New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who covers the White House and has broken a lot of big stories over the past couple of years, announced recently she is stepping away from Twitter, saying "it's not really helping the discourse." Chris Cilizza, who works for CNN on the politics beat, said this week he was "about done" with Twitter after other people on the platform mocked his 9-year-old son's peanut allergy.
I recently got off Facebook and Twitter almost entirely (Twitter I haven't touched in the last 10 days; Facebook I checked messages quickly and posted one photo of a piece my artist daughter created), after watching a speech on C-span by Jaron Lanier about how bad social media is for you. Lanier is a super-smart guy who has written books on this subject.
What Lanier said, and I agree with, is the primary reason to get off social media is what it does to your character. It's not about the pettiness or awfulness of other people. It's about your own pettiness and awfulness, which, subtly but inexorably, is encouraged by these platforms. This was true for me, and after just 10 days I can report being a more grounded, less stressed and better person because I am not, every two minutes or so, running to FB or Twitter to seek validation and stimulation. I am an addict in recovery, which is a better place than in addiction.
What I find disingenuous about what Haberman and some other journalists have done -- journalists proliferate on Twitter -- is they reject the experience without acknowledging the way they were drawn into the negativity and became a part of it. I could cite one example here, but I won't, because it's the sort of petty, who-cares thing that I left Tw. and FB to get away from.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, the journalist and author, had an honest take on the experience in 2016, when he said in an interview with Vox:
“Every day I wake up and hope I have the courage to leave, and I think someday soon I’ll get it.”
He did leave Twitter a year later. It's striking how much his quote sounds like it came from an alcoholic or a junkie -- from an addict. That's because it did, and that's what people are reluctant to admit about chronic use of these platforms -- it's an addiction.