So, here’s the thing.

You know, the first inkling I had that I was good at Twitter — which was also my first inkling that Twitter was a thing one could be good at — was when I would tweet “So, here’s the thing.” and people would start retweeting and liking it before I even made another tweet in the thread, before they could have any earthly idea what I was about to start talking about.

I started doing topical threads on Twitter out of a recognition that engaging with individual people through replies was not always (or often) super fruitful. If someone was spreading bad information or being belligerent, arguing with them directly rarely had any positive effect. If someone was asking a sincere question, replying to them might help that person, but few others would see it… which often led to more people sincerely asking the same question.

I decided that if I found myself with something to say that was worth saying, I would say it in the main feed, usually @-ing nobody. Just put the information out there, for the benefit of anybody who cared to listen to it.

And when I did this, my engagement skyrocketed. I started to gain followers rapidly. I had enough people reading my content and engaging with it that I was able to monetize Twitter through crowdfunding. My tweets were in demand, they went viral far beyond the normal reach for an account of my size… which was constantly growing.

I think this is the best way to use Twitter, the healthiest and most productive.

It’s not necessarily the easiest, or the most psychologically rewarding in the short term. Direct engagement with other people… dunking, slamming, burning people who are spreading hate or exposing their willful ignorance… gives so much more of a rush for so much less effort. It feels like you’re really doing something, while actually demanding very little of you.

It’s so much easier that I’ve found myself doing it more and more in the past couple of months, while I was reeling from my mother’s death and recovering from illness.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure of Twitter has changed considerably. Once upon a time, your replies to other people didn’t show up in the general feed of people who follow you. Then, I think they added a thing where you would see replies if you were following both people involved.

Now, I guess as part of Twitter leadership’s plan to help encourage conversation, if I reply to someone like Ben Shapiro or Jordan Peterson or Kellyanne Conway, not only will my tweet show up in my followers’ feeds, but so will the one I’m replying to.

For all these reasons and more, I’ve made the decision to refocus my Twitter account away from that kind of engagement and back onto my own original work. I’m not going to ignore the forces of evil at work on social media; I’m just not going to keep jabbing at them pointlessly.

At this point, I have neither the interest nor need to keep proving I’m clever. It’s time to go back to demonstrating wisdom. It’s less fun in the short term, but healthier and more productive in the long run.

I wrote the bulk of this blog post last night and since then… well, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Already today I’ve found myself looking at tweets buried in the replies on viral tweets that seemed to cry out for a rebuttal. But what would be the point? It’s just not a good use of time or energy, two things which I have in limited supply.

August and everything after.

It’s weird to me to look at my blog and realize that I haven’t posted anything to it since the end of May, as so much has happened since then and I have spent so much time since then writing out my thoughts and feelings in a journal, often in the form of a rough draft blog post or something that I intended to finish and post.

But the nature of journaling, for me, is about processing the now. So what I don’t finish when I first down to write, I don’t often come back to. I’ll make an effort to post some of it, though. 

So, I’ve had a rough time. I feel weird about dropping this on my blog two months later, but: my mother died. My emotions around this are very strong. On the one hand my family tends to be philosophical about these things .On the other hand, my mother is dead. In a real sense I feel like my time is my own for the first time in years. I mean, it was always my own, but I chose to spend it in ways that allowed me to spend more time with her and helped her and my father manage their situation.

I look back at the past half decade and think about opportunities I passed on and projects I couldn’t quite commit to, deals I didn’t quite manage to seal… and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same. If I changed anything, it would be to tell myself things I only really figured out towards the end that would have allowed me to help more.

But as the proverbial fruit flies like a banana, time flies like an arrow and once loosed, it cannot be recalled to the bow. I can’t do it all over again. That choice is made and will always remain made.

Now the future lies before me. It’s taken me a while to adjust to the new reality. I do so in the knowledge that tomorrow is never promised. One thing I grappled with a lot in recent years and more especially the first half of this year is the paired knowledge that any day my mother might die, and that this was true, had always been true, and would remain true until she did. It was also true that she might have outlived me. Nothing is promised. “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow,” et cetera.

Complicating factors in all this: my family gathered twice to remember my mother, once as a private matter in Florida, which became her second home for reasons both practical and sentimental, and once as a public celebration back in Nebraska. There was no funeral in the traditional sense, per her wishes and our beliefs. Traveling twice in rapid succession and being around hundreds of people… my immune system was not in the best shape to begin with. I came back from Florida sick and a few days later was traveling to Nebraska, where I think I caught approximately all the germs.

I think it’s a rare year that I don’t catch a summer cold that knocks me on my backside for a couple weeks. This was… in a lot of ways, it was not the worst? I could control the coughing. It was only really bad for a week.

Mostly I slept. My body’s metabolism is such that the mere act of having an immune system can exhaust me, so when I get sick I don’t get better until I allow myself to shut down. So now I’m in the process of recovering from recovery: rebuilding my stamina, getting an actual sleep schedule, resuming all the pills I went off when I started medicating for the cold, etc.

My brain is going to remain partially fog-bound until I’ve been back on my normal regimen for several more days and until I have got my sleep schedule sorted.

That aside, I’m already making plans for how I want to spend my next five years. Tomorrow is promised to no one, but on the off chance that it happens anyway, I know what I want to do with it.