I’d like to take a moment and express my appreciation and gratitude to all your well wishes. I literally received almost a thousand messages and I feel bad for not having been able to respond in the detail that they deserve or even at all in most cases, but I hope this post serves this purpose at least partially. Thank you, your well wishes and support have meant a lot. And perhaps my experience contains a lesson or two for all of us.
A bit over a month ago I had a heart attack. Fortunately a mild one as it turned out, but it is a life changing and quite concerning event nevertheless, not only for me, but also for my family. These last 5 weeks have been marked by substantial changes to my lifestyle. Aside from the medical requirements changes have included altering my diet, drastically cutting down and restructuring my work schedule, refraining from stressful situations, starting to cautiously exercise again and disengaging from twitter/social media altogether:
Who knew that years of extremely long work days, constantly sitting in front of screens, not enough exercise, not the best diet, stress, etc. is not good for you. Well everybody kinda does, but it’s easy to get too distracted by noise and neglect balance especially with markets being a 24 hour non stop merry go round. So I actually have nobody to blame but myself.
And it all finally caught up with me during the Brexit market madness and the alarm bells were ringing loudly:
Then the following morning over breakfast it hit. A sudden realization that this may be it. Done. Lights out.
Not fun I can tell you.
I was lucky. It turned out to be a mild heart attack and I got to leave the hospital after several days of prodding, testing and checking.
Despite this health scare I consider myself fortunate, I’m in the process of making changes, adjusting and hopefully going on living much longer. I can still pursue my passion of markets but with a different balance toward life. It was simply too much, too stressful and social media was a big contributor. Too busy, too distracting, too addictive. It all adds up.
My doctors were very clear on this: Unplug before life pulls the plug on you. And I’m listening.
And to answer the questions I’ve had from many: I think I’m going to be ok and I’m starting to feel better. The first month following a heart attack is the riskiest and, knock on wood, so far so good although when it rains it pours as my wife was also hospitalized this week with a major abdominal inflammation (she’ll be ok, but nonetheless it’s been another stressful week). Rough patch, but such is life.
So again I am grateful for all the positive wishes, however, sadly it’s been brought to my attention that parts of twitter choose to engage in an alternate reality. One that’s nasty, spiteful, gleeful and frankly utter nonsense. Shameful. Take this tweet below as an example by a popular poster, someone who should know better than to present a running rumor as a fact:
Really? Aside from the fact that I’m not British the same week I apparently had “fled to Jamaica” I had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with CNBC’s John Najarian and his lovely family. Not in Jamaica, but in London. Great people and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. And this experience contrasts the positive side of twitter that I have loved versus the utter nonsense that goes on there as well.
I’ve met some great people via twitter, including my wife, but unfortunately twitter, the medium, also gives license to abuse, harassment and outright stupidity. Hence the reason my wife had been begging me for a long time to get off twitter.
Now let me be clear: I’m not singling this tweet out for any reason other than that it was sent to me but also to highlight what a cesspool of hate and ignorance twitter has become. Apparently some people take anything they hear on twitter at face value and they spread it with joy.
I don’t want those type of people in my life, especially not given my health situation.
I know of no social setting where people have a license to mock people that get ill. Anyone make fun of cancer patients lately? If there’s open season on victims of heart attacks I was unaware.
It would almost be comical if these type of tweets weren’t also associated with hate mail, threats, harassment, invasion of privacy. And that’s exactly what witch hunts and lynch mobs produce: They incite irrational hate, anger, even violence, panic, etc. and people that stir this kind of stuff up should be ashamed and shunned.
But I’m obviously not the only one that has been subject to harassment and online trolling or has come to realize that social media, especially popularity on social media, can be too much of a distraction.
CNBC’s Kelly Evans called it quits recently as well making her the latest high profile personality to make this choice. Good for her I say. $TWTR the company has big structural issues. Aside from figuring out how to make the company profitable and attractive for advertisers it’s rapidly developing a reputation for becoming a platform where haters can spew their nonsense and harass people without consequences. The result: The company risks losing the positive voices and ends up being a platform for the mob. Bad news all around and plenty of examples can be found:
Stephen Fry perhaps summarized it best by calling Twitter “a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous“.
The company has recently reacted in at least one case now by banning one of its most notorious trolls for life. Too little, too late? I don’t know, but if twitter (down over 75% off its highs) wants to save itself it better react in a much bigger way. As it stands individual users have virtually no options to protect themselves against harassment and abuse. Yes you can block and mute and you can report a user, but twitter never does anything about it. And users have had enough. It’s a fine balance between free speech, censorship and harassment/defamation protection. My sense is one big problem is that trolls are generally not shunned on social media, but rather encouraged in many cases, or worse their nonsense is even believed by many.
Who wants to hang out in a neighborhood where anyone has license to spit on you? Hence it’s no surprise that many companies are actually shutting down message boards altogether. Just too much nastiness, anger, attacks, trolls, stalking, etc. It’s a shame, but it’s a reflection of parts of humanity.
And who can forget Microsoft’s recent experience:
My general view of social media: If you are behaving toward others in a way that would get you thrown out of a party or a meeting or job interview then you should probably get thrown out of a social network for same/similar behavior. Self-annointed keyboard warriors taking out their life frustrations on others they don’t even know, but would not dare saying same things directly to stranger’s faces if they actually met them in real life. Just pathetic.
My bottom line: My priorities are my family, my health, and the commitment we have made to our members and I have no time nor wish to involve myself with internet trash. I’m not the idiot whisperer and since my health scare twitter is no longer part of our lives.
Those that have been supportive of us while we shared so much information on twitter over the years we thank you for all your love and support. I have loved all the positive interaction on twitter, but it has become too much. And to those that hate, troll and constantly obsess about and stalk people they haven’t even met and know nothing about: Get a life and seek some counseling, you have obsession issues.
I’ll leave you with one final thought, perhaps applicable to all of us:
One of my favorite historical writers is Seneca the Younger. He, like all of us, was a flawed human being but I appreciate his wisdom, realism and philosophical musings. Born in Spain he became a personal tutor and advisor to Emperor Nero and had a front row seat to power in Rome during some of its glory days and time of madness. In the “Shortness of Life” he, a man in his own time, wrote among other things:
“The part of life we really live is small….Consider how much of your time was taken up with a moneylender, how much with a mistress, how much with a patron, how much with a client, how much in wrangling with your wife, how much in punishing your slaves, how much in rushing about the city on social duties. Add the diseases which we have caused by our own acts, add, too, the time that has lain idle and unused; you will see that you have fewer years to your credit than you count. You will hear many men saying: “After my fiftieth year I shall retire into leisure, my sixtieth year shall release me from public duties.” And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it? Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the remnant of life, and to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? How late it is to begin to live just when we must cease to live! What foolish forgetfulness of mortality to postpone wholesome plans to the fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to intend to begin life at a point to which few have attained!”
The slavery bit aside, these passages could have been written today and are just as applicable now as they were nearly 2000 years ago and they resonate with me. Deeply.
And perhaps this is the larger message: It’s time to focus on real life not cyber life. And after all, how many years of one’s life can/should one spend day in and day out on cyberspace?
Adios Twitter, it’s been real. I’m unplugging (for the summer at least) and likely the foreseeable future.