Today is the 26th of the 30 days that Twitter keep your account open once you deactivate; just in case you succumb to the addictive qualities of social media, I guess. It has been a really strange period of time for me, with an incredible range of emotions as acceptance has gradually kicked in. Similarly to the day that Bird Therapy was published, grief has played a part, as though mourning the loss of something, perhaps a part of me?The process of acceptance was helped by writing this blog reflecting on some of my key behaviours and observations of social media addiction. It has not been helped by the fact that the Bird Therapy teaching resource has been completed and the main platform for sharing has gone. This has been compounded by a realisation that without using social media, it is incredibly difficult to reach those people that took an interest in Bird Therapy in the first place. However, this does reaffirm the fact that society is heavily reliant on social media now – in both positive and negative ways. Seeing those famous names who helped the book and message (or not) spread wider, miss or ignore the teaching pack, has been tough. Especially when such inane and regurgitative drivel garners so much flavour and praise. It does hurt, residually.So in 4 days, the Bird Therapy Twitter will be gone forever and although I am not going to miss it, as that is the area of my mental health I have been working on lately, it will still be sad. I have engaged with so many wonderful people through using it and it has led to so many life-changing experiences. I have also been lucky enough to meet a lot of the people that followed and supported me on there too, at various talks and events, and talk to them, as people, not avatars. I also was able to speak to people who I had idolised for their writing and activism, yet soon discovered that as people, they too were flawed and often only interested in their own social media profile. The negative behaviour was all around me and I started to really recognise it in other people.However, through Twitter, almost exclusively, I crowdfunded the publication of Bird Therapy. 861 people contributed to the creation of the final book and that is amazing, really it is. When I appeared on Winterwatch alongside Chris Packham, my social media exploded overnight; and after absorbing the initial shock, it enabled me to reach out and help more and more. When the book was published, I crashed and from that point onwards, social media became a negative experience for me. I became ruthlessly obsessed with comparing myself to others and placing all of my self-esteem onto the value of likes and retweets. As others grew around me, I began to wilt.That said, I have made peace now with the reality that social media is not representative of society. A lot of my previous blogs explore this and it has been fascinating to reflect on it all as it has become clearer to me. For example, from 10k followers, less than 900 supported the book, clarity. When my relationship with social media turned sour and I began to use it as a place to vent, I lost 200+ followers a day – these people are not your friends, Joe. Go back to the real world, your beautiful daughter, your job. From that point, I realised that my twitter was no longer ‘Bird Therapy’ it had almost become a form of ‘my’ therapy. I had to break the ludic loops and fight the addiction. I had to stop.So I have. 4 days and counting. Forget-me-not.
Published by Joe Harkness
SENCO, working-class writer, birdwatcher, Norfolk born-and-bred, sharer of stories, realist and forever raising mental health awareness. View all posts by Joe Harkness