It is hard for me to start writing this piece because I have started writing it in my head a hundred times. I have tried to format it into a tweet, then a series of tweets; a long Instagram caption, a Facebook status.
This now happens with nearly every thought I have. It pops into my head and, as it does, I try to come up with a way of expressing it on a social media platform. It is frustrating because that didn’t used to be the case. Well, it was the case for a long time, then it wasn’t, and now it is again.
Like a lot of millennials hovering around 30, I grew up online and spent my early and mid twenties glued to my laptop and phone screen. a new app or website would launch and within months I would be hooked. I never really questioned it, and the constant technological innovations were too exciting to care anyway.
With every bit of myself I throw into the online ether, I dissociate a little bit more from what is happening to us.
First we tweeted by text, then Twitter got on our phones; suddenly there was Instagram, and filters, and Snapchat, and stories you could post, and gifs were everywhere, and Vine compilations were brilliant – and so on. Then something changed, around a year ago; maybe it was that we had hit a tech plateau, where new apps stopped being novel and bold.
Maybe I just aged; I had spent years live-tweeting my every thought, accidentally becoming semi-prominent in the process, and the constant exposure had started to feel draining. I also noticed that a lot of my friends were slowly separating themselves from their online personas. One by one, they started to tweet only sporadically, set their Instagrams to private, and generally became more guarded online.
I can’t pretend I’d gone off grid by the time the pandemic hit; I was still posting frequently, but had been making efforts to scroll less, read more books, and generally not look at my phone when I didn’t need to. It was a process I was working on. I knew letting go of such a deeply...