I asked our social media editor Beth Newman for help and she got onto it right away, logging the issue with Twitter in Australia. She warned me, however, Twitter “can be frustratingly slow with responding – ironic for a platform of immediate communication”.
The Twitterverse was quick to tell me my account had been hijacked – but the response from the social networking service has been glacial. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Which for a company based in a capitalist country like America, where the customer is always right, I find astounding. I’m sure Twitter CEO @JackDorsey, would not be proud of this either.
I was an early adopter of this social media site. I heard about the then start-up while living in San Francisco in 2007. Which makes its lack of response sting even more. Have tech giants never heard of brand loyalty or value it?
Another friend’s daughter had the same thing happen with her Instagram account. Not only were her account and followers deleted in one foul swoop, she lost all her photos too. My friend tried to contact everyone she knew who worked at Instagram in Australia and abroad, again to no avail.
The question is, short of storming their San Francisco or Silicon Valley HQs, how do you talk to a real person at Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Special prize for someone who has (CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t count – I mean a worker bee).
Truth be told I have not missed the shouting match that is Twitter, where too many people are on transmit and not receive. I tend to think of the Twitter audience as filled with hecklers, like the Jim Henson creations Statler and Waldorf, in The Muppet Show, the two elderly men who jeered not cheered from their balcony seats. It is, however, useful in my line of work.
Before I became dead to the Twitterverse, I’d already gone on a social media diet. I’d taken the Facebook app off my mobile phone earlier this year when I was asked to judge a book award. If I had time enough to waste there I reasoned, I had time to read one of the 23 books on my judging list.
Can I say, dear reader, what a delight it was to force myself to focus long enough to read a book. Several of them, in fact. I became reacquainted again with the joy of reading something other than coronavirus updates and newsfeeds. I’ve now lost count of how many books I’ve read in 2020 since getting back into my first love: reading books.
Taking those apps off my phones also meant instead of doing the digital flick through each morning as soon as the alarm went off, I got up and walked with a friend. So not only did my mental health improve, my physical health did too. I am now several kilos lighter, thanks to this new daily habit and the fact I also gave up alcohol for a few months (start one good habit and it leads to others). Coming home from my walk each morning with coffee in hand, I’d return to my second love: reading newspapers, and limiting my daily intake of online coronavirus news to one grab in the morning (11am briefing) and once again in the afternoon (before another walk).
Clearly, I have not been alone in my former doomscrolling habit. As the act of consuming an endless procession of negative online news, to the detriment of the scroller’s mental wellness is the Macquarie dictionary’s word of the year – we’ve all been doing it. As it is the end of the year, a time to examine old habits, and attempt to create news ones, I’m going to try to stay a socially distant – 1.5 metres arm’s length – from social media again, if I can.
But not before I’ve heard back from Twitter. I’ve set up a new Twitter account @HelenPitt6 and eagerly await a response from @JackDorsey and co. It’s a point of principle now; they will not defeat me.
And my 2021 New Year’s resolution is to do everything: Tweeting, reading, working, walking, eating, drinking, and sleeping in moderation. Please, no more hacking though.
Follow Helen Pitt on Twitter @HelenPitt6.
Helen Pitt is a journalist at the The Sydney Morning Herald.