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Pat Dryburgh

I’m glad I deactivated my Twitter and Facebook accounts back in early March. According to the Hedometer which tracks emotional sentiment across Twitter, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought Twitter’s happiness to an all-time low. As Jason Kottke writes:

The day they identify as the unhappiest is March 12, 2020, which is the day after Americans finally took Covid-19 seriously. Within the space of a few hours on March 11, the NBA announced it was suspending its season, Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife Rita Wilson had Covid-19, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic, Donald Trump went on primetime TV to address the nation, and the DJIA closed down 1400 points (it would drop another 2350 points on Mar 12).

March 12 was a day or two after I deactivated my accounts, and yet I remained informed of all of this news through national, international, and local media sources via the Apple News app on my phone. I’ve kept in touch with my family and friends through various messaging apps. I’ve maintained my Instagram account and my Reddit account and am obviously still posting to my blog. For the most part, no one but me has noticed the change.

While I’m deeply concerned about how this virus affects the world, I am feeling less anxious than I expected when the words coronavirus and COVID-19 first entered public consciousness. I suspect this is because unlike the apps I continue to use, Twitter and Facebook are optimized to reward constant interaction and attention with all those tiny hits of dopamine, which in a time like this can open you up to repeated exposure to a steady stream of unfiltered negativity.

Not to say that I feel awesome. Just a little less anxious than I could be.

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