Not to be disloyal to the medium but deleting Twitter from at least your phone really improves mental health and inner conversation.— Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) June 2, 2014
Twitter is of course a wonderful thing, but it is also the most appalling distraction ever invented. It sounds so harmless. But it wants you never to be in touch with yourself again and never to have time to catch up on ‘updates’ from the person you really need to keep close to you: yourself. It denies us that precious non-specific time in which you can daydream, unpack your anxieties and have a conversation with your deeper self.There are countless difficult things hiding away deep within us which we should give some thought to even though the desperate temptation is to keep tweeting and RTing. We need Twitter sabbaths. We need long train journeys on which we have no wireless signal and nothing to read, where our carriage is mostly empty, where the views are expansive and where the only sounds are those made by the wheels as they click against the rails. We need plane journeys when we have a window seat and nothing else to focus on for two or three hours but the tops of clouds and our own thoughts.We need relief from the Twitter-fueled impression that we are living in an age of unparalleled importance, with our wars, our debts, our riots, our missing children, our after-premiere parties, our IPOs and our rogue missiles. We need, on occasion, to be able to go to a quieter place, where that particular conference and this particular epidemic, that new phone and this shocking wildfire, will lose a little of their power to affect us – and where even the most intractable problems will seem to dissolve against a backdrop of the stars above us.We should at times forego the Twitter feed in order to pick up on the far stranger, more wondrous headlines of those less eloquent species that surround us: kestrels and snow geese, spider beetles and black-faced leafhoppers, lemurs and small children — all creatures usefully uninterested in our own melodramas; counterweights to our anxieties and self-absorption.A flourishing life requires a capacity to recognise the times when Twitter no longer has anything original or important to teach us; periods when we should refuse imaginative connection with strangers and hashtags, when we must leave the business of complaining, insulting, haranguing, exclaiming to others, in the knowledge that we have our own priorities to honour in the brief time still allotted to us.