Twitter and me — time for some reflection

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Twitter has been a great tool for me in meeting new people and networking with data analytics, media and journalism professionals. It’s allowed me to connect with other people online before meeting them in person, which has only enriched my career in more ways than one.

It’s also given me some time to reflect on my usage of Twitter and I’ve been on the platform professionally for more than five years, which is a long time in social media terms.

In the past week or two, my Twitter activity has gone up a disgusting amount, which has affected my attention span and concentration levels. I don’t tweet as much as I used to but when I scrolled through my recent tweets, something needed to happen so I’m taking control of how I use Twitter right now.

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It would be very easy to blame someone for my recent increase in activity on Twitter, but it’s me that has to take full ownership of my actions. Blaming others is never the solution, so you have to own up and face the hard truth head on.

One of my goals in 2020 is to use social media more productively and as harsh as it sounds, I’m nowhere near using Twitter and LinkedIn in a productive way. In fact, I use it as a distraction to numb myself from the realities of life and that’s not a healthy relationship by any stretch of the imagination.

Only by taking ownership of your current actions, you can start to change your habits and traits in a positive way.

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You’re probably wondering if I’m using Twitter for work, why switch off from the platform? Apart from sleeping of course, living in a 24/7, always-on environment can be exhausting and I know journalists who have been subject to some of the most awful abuse from online trolls, which is unacceptable.

I’m very fortunate to have not gone through the level of abuse some journalists have been through. However, when you mix an always-on environment with Asperger’s Syndrome, the recipe is a mixture of information and sensory overload.

If I’m honest, I’m still learning to find a way of cutting my Twitter usage down. Talking to close friends and journalists has helped me to not bottle up my emotions and be honest about how I’m feeling at the moment rather than say “I’m fine”, which can be hard for someone like me with Asperger’s Syndrome.

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Summing up my next steps in my relationship with Twitter is quite difficult because it’s been so useful in connecting with so many other journalists & it’s such a good tool for newsgathering and finding out the latest events to go to.

With that said, unless I’m reporting, live tweeting or using the tool for work purposes, I will no longer use Twitter in a personal capacity. It’s a tough decision to make, but for the good of my mental health, I need to step back from Twitter and use it as a professional tool.

I want to be the best journalist I can be, which means I have to change some habits so that I don’t worry or get anxious to the point that my Asperger’s causes me to have a meltdown. It also means I can concentrate more on stuff that needs to be done (researching, pitching and interviewing case studies).

It’s going to feel weird not having a large portion of my day being spent on TweetDeck but if it improves the quality of journalism and data visualisations I produce, then this change will only be positive for my career going forward.



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Umar Hassan

Data Journalist specialising in technology & investigations. Rock n’ roll enthusiast, recovering gamer & fitness addict.