To tweet or not to tweet? That is the question. My answer, at least recently, has been the latter, as I’ve been spending my time off the app for the majority of the last few weeks.
Is this a cardinal sin of journalism? Have I been drastically falling behind my peers and disappointing those who might look to me for information? I’m not sure. What I do know is this year — and really, the pandemic overall — has made me reconsider how I approach social media as a journalist.
Last year, I found myself glued to my phone as if it was my lifeline, and in a lot of ways, it felt like it. The pandemic kept everyone stuck inside and disconnected from in-person connections, so it was only natural social media became an outlet for interaction.
However, I found myself being so attached to my Twitter — which, as a journalist, is one of the most basic places to find and share information — that it began to hurt me more than help me as a reporter. I was constantly comparing myself to other reporters or simply feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.
As the summer dragged on and I found myself more and more frustrated with the way using social media was making me feel, I decided to step back from my Twitter for a few weeks. Coming back for a brief period this fall, I left once again at the beginning of October.
This semester, I’ve been making a more conscious effort to prioritize my classes and my personal well-being over the constant feeling of needing to work that comes with being a journalist. And, honestly, it’s improved how much I care about my work. When it doesn’t feel like a task that’s constantly looming over my head, I tend to enjoy it much more.
As a college journalist, there’s many things I’m attempting to balance along with my work. First and foremost, my classes, which aren’t necessarily cheap at a university like Loyola. Second, my social life with friends and loved ones. Last but certainly not least, my own time for things I enjoy outside of work. However, with a job as a college newspaper editor, I constantly feel the pressure to have my finger on the pulse of all the news — which doesn’t leave my mind much time to relax.
Now back to Twitter. Although it performs a vital service to journalists and readers — the obvious reporting and spreading of important information at lightning speed — I think there are definitely worthy critiques to be made of the culture and questions worth asking.
How much should journalists be focused on Twitter news instead of other things? Is it a cardinal sin to be late on retweeting a piece of news because we were at a friend’s important event, or spending a day with family? Are all 24 of our hours meant to be spent in service to the public who follow us?
These are questions I’ve spent the better part of the last six months trying to answer, and I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet. I did feel like I was letting people down by not constantly having perfectly polished takes or opinions on all things Loyola sports all the time. I’ve still been working diligently on my stories, but now with less constant pressure to present perfectly curated views and observations on social media. I can’t say it’s been a bad setup.
However, as basketball season looms and my job — and my voice — becomes that much more in the spotlight, I’ll be slowly making my return to Twitter. I realize it’s something I can’t avoid, and it’s something I’ll hopefully strike a better balance with as I enter what’s expected to be an exciting season for the men’s basketball team. I may not be as present as others in my field, but I will always work hard to be the best in my role as I can be.
Now, though, it also includes being more respectful of my own time and mental energy.
Like I said, I don’t have the perfect answer to any of the questions the pressures of the digital age ask of journalists. But I do think we should take a more conscious look at how we work with these mediums and start a larger conversation about their effects.
See you in the Twittersphere.