What You Get Back When You Reclaim Your Time From Social Media

Why I walked away from the platform that had nurtured my writing career

Crystal Marie Fleming
Forge
Published in
8 min readJun 21, 2019

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Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Last fall, in the midst of touring for my latest book, I stepped away from the public stage that arguably made my publishing career possible.

After investing six years into growing my following on Twitter from zero to over 42,000, with millions of monthly engagements, I left the platform, at least for now. This might not sound like such a momentous decision, but it was for me. My 127,000 tweets — an average of 57 tweets per day — had dramatically raised my profile as a writer, sociologist, and scholar on race. The platform prompted countless interactions and conversations, frequent media attention, and valuable professional opportunities — such as connecting me with my literary agent and helping secure a publishing deal for the book I’m still touring with, How to Be Less Stupid About Race.

Yet at the precise moment when most writers would have redoubled their efforts to promote their work, I felt compelled to step down from my bully pulpit and shutter my most successful social media account.

This certainly wasn’t the first time that I tried to reduce the footprint of social media in my life. I’d previously discussed social media stress with my therapist, used productivity apps to limit my screen time, experimented with boundaries and a “bedtime” for my electronic devices, and deleted the Twitter app from my phone countless times — only to download it a few hours later. Nothing seemed to work. After a brief absence, I’d always return.

Most disconcertingly, even when I wasn’t tweeting, I found myself thinking in tweets — crafting pithy, retweetable observations about my life, social dynamics, and world events to share with my followers as soon as I could get my hot hands on my phone or laptop.

And then I reached a critical breaking point. Crisscrossing the nation for the book tour and connecting with readers in real life was a new, thrilling experience for me, but it was also unspeakably exhausting. A full-time professor, I had to juggle speaking engagements and readings with my teaching responsibilities in the midst of a busy semester. Bouncing between bookstores and…

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Crystal Marie Fleming
Forge
Writer for

Professor, sociologist and author of two books, including my latest: HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE. Photo credit: Nicole Mondestin