Over the past six weeks I’ve had to dip in and out of using Twitter for reasons (many) that I’ve written about on here before. I noticed that my behaviour regarding Twitter was becoming very obsessive and cyclic and had begun to impact on my mental health in a big way. I also noticed that during the times I haven’t been using it, I’ve felt so relaxed and transparent that I’ve finally been able to make a massive and important decision, that might seem foolish to some but for me, at this time, is the right one. 

I’ve completely accepted that I’m never going to be able to regulate my actions and responses on social media. I will always compare myself to other people and feel worthless in doing so. I will always obsess over likes and retweets and treat it as the only validation that’s worthwhile. Whatever I do, is never going to be enough for me and this leads to cyclic negative thought processes that, put bluntly, are doing my head in. Those who’ve read the book will have further insight into this pattern. 

To be honest with you, I’m quite sick of feeling like this and if I HAD to continue using social media, then I’d consider accessing some talking therapy to try and rectify these issues. However, the simple fact is that I don’t HAVE to use it and so whilst weighing up the pros and cons and considering the impact on me and Bird Therapy – I’ve accepted that I’ve come to the end of a massive chapter in this journey and to disappear, leaving the book to do what I set out to do, help people, is enough. 

Too many strive for acceptance. Courting controversy for attentions sake, wallowing in their own achievements and pasting them for all to see – and I’ve been guilty of this so much. It’s taken me many years to realise – but everyone is out there for themselves. I learnt this when Bird Therapy was published and almost the entire nature writing ‘community’ didn’t even mention it. People whose work I’ve loved and shared on social media myself. Blanked. Someone even told me that I shouldn’t post reviews of my own book as it’s seen as bad etiquette. I mean, what the hell!? It’s my book – am I not allowed to be proud of a good review?

Anyway. I’ve done all the above, behaved in these toxic ways and repeated the cycle over and over – but not any more. It takes up too much of my brain energy. Brain energy better spent in areas of my life that actually care and reciprocate – family, friends, work and birds. At the end of the Winterwatch film I did in January, I said that if Bird Therapy helped just one person in their own battles with mental health, then it would be job done. Well enough people have shared with me, how much it’s helped them, so perhaps it’s time for me to let it properly unfurl it’s wings and fly out into the world. 

I can’t decide whether to leave the account open or not, as I feel I’m letting down the dedicated followers who made the book real, but what’s the point? I’ll only obsess about the follower count going down over time as others grow and grow, it’ll eat away at me and I don’t want or need that. So here we are. I don’t know when or if I’ll bring myself to deactivate it, but think I might need to as an act of closure, I think.

I’m still here though, you can email me anytime at birdtherapy@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll never stop writing my blog as it’s the journal accompanying my ongoing road to wellness. 

I have a few cool things happening at the moment. I’ve just written features for the Guardian and BBC Wildlife Magazine, I had some photos taken for the Guardian article yesterday, which was particularly cringeworthy! There’s a feature I wrote about writing the book, in the next issue of Birdwatching magazine, which I believe is already out to subscribers – I’ve not seen it yet though. I also went into three Norwich bookshops yesterday (Jarrolds, Book Hive and Waterstones) and signed all the copies of Bird Therapy on the shelf. Below are some of events I’ve got coming up:

  • 8th and 9th August I’m recording the audiobook for Bird Therapy. 
  • Friday 16th August at 3pm I’m signing copies of Bird Therapy with Chris Packham at the Birdfair – Wildsounds stand 
  • Saturday 17th August – 1130 I’m signing copies of Bird Therapy at the Birdfair – Wildsounds stand 
  • Saturday 17th August 13:45-14:30 I’m speaking in the authors forum at Birdfair and then signing some books after. 
  • Thursday 29th August – evening in conversation with Nick Acheson at NWT Cley. 
  • Tuesday 22nd October – speaking at Norwich Science Festival.

No doubt there’ll be some other stuff too, but if you see it then great and if you don’t, for once I won’t be ramming it into your eye sockets via twitter. Twitter followers – you’ve carried me through all of this and I’ve enjoyed engaging with you all. I’ve tried so hard to respond and interact with you all and I’m so sorry I can’t carry on with it. Much love. Joe.

10 thoughts on “Life without likes

  1. Your book has made & will continue to make a difference to many people.
    It was absolutely right you published the reviews. They were overwhelmingly good & it was good to read them.
    Twitter will be a lesser place without you but you will be happier which is far more important.
    Those of us still on Twitter will continue to promote Bird Therapy.
    Take care & enjoy your family & the natural world.


  2. Totally understand Joe. I think the decision you’ve made is right, using social media to measure your personal status in the world is not good for anybody. I really understand what you mean by this. I am delighted to read you’re recording the audio version of Bird Therapy, I have several friends who would/could not read a book but they’re avid audio book listeners. Enjoy the summer!


  3. Joe, you totally need to look after yourself and if that means coming off social media then that’s what you should do.
    The book is really good and I know it will be of benefit to lots of people, as it has been for me.
    Take care.


  4. Joe – you don’t need the twitter world to validate you, you have a family and friends to do that and of course a brilliantly honest book that no one can ever take away from you and which will help many people in years to come. Social media can be very toxic places where people feel they can say mean things that they would never say to anyone’s face. You don’t need all that shite in your life – none of us do really and they will still always be there sniping and griping so rise above it and let your senses be filled with better things. Being ‘liked’ by total strangers is one thing but being loved by the people you are close to is what really matters in life. Oh and a good patch too – I’m still looking!


  5. Joe i know how you feel ref social media i have the same issues. So several weeks ago i made the decision to use the ‘periscope’ method which means i go on social media every few days instead of every few hours i simply have a quick look at any posts i find interesting then its periscope down and vanish – means i may miss things but that doesnt bother me but also i very rarely post anything and that has taken a lot of pressure off me – instead of birding to impress people or feel i have to impress people on twitter i have gone back to birding for me and enjoy it much more and i use bird guides And rare bird alert for local info


  6. I have to confess I shall miss you on Twitter. I have enjoyed watching the story of Bird Therapy unfold and cheered at its triumph. I can completely sympathise about the negative impact of social media and your book will fly just as well on it’s own. You have done a tremendous thing.


  7. Dear Joe,
    Your book has been a force for good. So many of us have read it and learnt from it. It has also resonated with many of us who have had our own issues re mental health and have an active interest in promoting wellbeing. I think I said before that I included it in a recent talk about travel writing without going very far. It will be a companion book for many of us for years to come.


  8. Hi Joe,
    Somehow hadn’t read this post in depth on first viewing which I suppose is ironic as at the time I was struggling with keeping up with blogging. On 13 August I temporarily deactivated my Facebook account, keeping messenger. This act was so liberating as I felt I could get on with living my life and at an Indian meal out with friends that evening I made my ‘announcement’!
    I bought your book a while ago Joe and have dipped into it. I somehow can’t make time to read and am working on that but I plan to take your book to The Gambia 4 Dec- 1 April where I think the surroundings will add to the book’s meaning. I have been visiting the country since 2012 and it was love at first sight. I haven’t yet been on any bird trips but maybe this time. I find the grounds of the Senegambia Hotel are a haven both for my journalling & tweeting (novice). Quite a coincidence Chris Packham visits Bakoteh Hotel in Kotu and has written your book’s foreword.
    You never know Joe I may be able to make time to visit our local r.s.p.b. Group meeting next week.
    Take care and thank you so much for sharing ‘you’ 🙂🐧🐤🦅


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