After 10 years and 22,000 tweets, why I've ditched anti-social media

After 10 years and 22,000 tweets, why I’ve ditched anti-social media: By TV presenter LOUISE MINCHIN

  • Louise Minchin was advised by her daughters to take a break from social media
  • Constant drip of negativity from obsessively looking was making her feel down
  • British TV presenter says she will edit the people she follows, if she goes back

This week social media has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Grammy and Brit award-winning singer Billie Eilish has joined the growing list of people who have taken a step back from it because of its toxic nature.

In an interview I did with her for BBC Breakfast, she told me she had stopped reading comments on her Instagram posts because they were, ‘ruining my life’.

I know lots of people will be able to relate — and many parents say they’re so worried about their teenagers’ use of social media they’ve been forced to put restrictions on the use of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok.

In my house the situation is reversed. I’m the one who’s been persuaded to give up Twitter by my teenagers. After ten years, 22,000 tweets and goodness knows how many hours scrolling, I have taken a break — largely thanks to my daughters, Mia, 18, and Scarlett, 15.

Louise Minchin (pictured) revealed that she’s taken a break from social media, as the constant stream of negativity was getting her down

Now I’ve taken a step back, I can see that what started as an innocuous pastime had become almost addictive. I couldn’t stop myself reading the incessant comments, despite nasty personal jibes aimed at me. It felt like I’d left the front door to my house wide open for anyone to walk in and shout horrible things. After a three-month break, it feels like I’ve managed to close that door.

I have always talked to my children about social media and how to use it. In many ways they appear to have a healthier attitude than I do. As they have grown up with social media, they make better choices. They don’t communicate with or listen to people they don’t know, or who aren’t friends (or at least friends of friends) and would not tolerate abuse.

They are the ones who banned mobile phones from family walks and from the dinner table, after realising the constant beep of messages, texts or notifications was an intrusion on family life.

They were right, and those moments of quiet have led to important conversations and silly ones we might not have had.

Yet at other times I still looked at social media almost obsessively and it all came to a head in November last year. I finally realised the constant drip of negativity was getting me down. The girls were concerned about how it was affecting me and at their suggestion, I decided to do something about it.

I deleted the Twitter app from my phone and iPad. During the first few days it felt like I had gone cold turkey. Like an automatic reflex, my thumb would search for the little blue bird symbol dozens of times a day, but 12 weeks on, my previous minute-by-minute participation in social media is over.

British TV presenter (pictured) said Coldplay’s Chris Martin had considered not performing at Glastonbury after reading a tweet

Taking time out has allowed me to re-assess the impact it was having — and I have been surprised at how positive I feel.

While my daughters played a big part in my decision, others influenced me, too. At the end of last year, BBC Breakfast heard from a few people whose views struck home. Chris Martin from Coldplay told us he might not perform at Glastonbury again after he read a tweet about him which said; ‘You can always rely on him to come on in a tracksuit and ruin everything’.

Then pop singer Dua Lipa told me she thought social media was a breeding ground of hate and anxiety. Despite her huge and loyal following, she admitted she would almost go looking for things she didn’t want to see on days when she felt vulnerable.

If stars like this were affected, it wasn’t surprising that I might be, too. You might think I’m oversensitive and should grow a thicker skin, but I found nasty messages difficult to shrug off.

There have been other unexpected benefits. I have much more time to do things I like — bonding over boxsets with my daughters, listening to brilliant podcasts, calling friends — rather than wasting time and emotional energy in a negative thread.

Louise claims since taking a break from social media, her family have noticed that she’s back to her happy-go-lucky self (file image)

My family have noticed I am less distracted and back to my happy-go-lucky-self. The break has also given me time to reflect one the positives from my time on Twitter. The support I got when competing in a triathalon, the friends I’ve made, and the response to our Wake Up To Menopause Breakfast series.

So how to embrace these positives? The longer I leave it the less likely I am to go back. When, or if I do, I will edit the people I follow and stop following those who have a negative effect on me. I will strictly limit when I do it and make sure it’s only on my computer (not on my phone).

Finally, I will try to be more robust and better at ignoring things. I’m going to follow my daughters’ example and concentrate on life outside of social media.

Louise is donating her fee for this article to Sport Relief. BBC Breakfast is on BBC One every day from 6am

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