We might feel we're taking a break when we scroll on Twitter. But between reading updates, engaging with friends and shaping our online persona, being on social media has become a new type of workby Amy King / April 29, 2020 / Leave a comment
Worldwide in 2019, we spent an average of 144 minutes on social media sites per day. Twitter has 100m daily active users posting 140m tweets a day. For many of us, it’s now part of the daily routine: you wake up, open your phone, scroll for a while and reply to funny/important/interesting tweets before your head leaves the pillow. Drop a pithy one-liner during your breakfast. A cheeky retweet while you’re on the loo. Lose yourself in the GIF library searching for the perfect response on your lunch break. Enjoy ignoring the housework, that important work email you don’t want to deal with yet, the fact you still haven’t started dinner. There’s a sense of satisfaction: you’re taking time for yourself to relax in the hustle and bustle of 2020, and the shitshow that comes with it.
Except you’re not giving yourself a rest.
Your Twitter procrastination isn’t procrastination—it’s just more work. What you think is escaping your To-Do list is actually creating more labour for yourself. There’s a common misconception that social media is somehow frivolity, digitised. It’s not real life. We purport it doesn’t mean anything, while we simultaneously reach out to our pixelated friends for support, laughter, or social commentary. And in doing so, we’re still working, just in a different way.
The invisible labour is layered. There’s the emotional labour we expend both in managing our emotions while reading people’s stories and in sharing our own feelings, and the unseen skill of working out how best to phrase something.
Composer and Twitter sweetheart Lin-Manuel Miranda shared at the end of 2019 that he would no longer be starting and ending each day with the “Good Morning” and “Good Night” messages he had been posting on the platform. While trying to inspire and soothe his followers, he wound up spending more time on 280 characters twice a day than on his next greatest hit (and we’re all chomping at the bit to see what comes after Hamilton).
Online existence is a performance. It may not be Shakespeare on a stage, but it’s a curation not of all our best bits, or worst bits, but only the bits we’re comfortable sharing with our audience of followers. There’s nothing wrong with that—it’s healthy to create and maintain boundaries with the rest of the world. Your business is your own and what…