Bird Therapy blog

Antisocial Media

How many of you reading this would readily admit that you are obsessed with social media and your representation on it? How many of you have posted something and then deleted it because it didn’t get as many ‘likes’ as you wanted it to? Yes, many if not most of you may not relate to this or perhaps you may not choose to accept that you’ve behaved in this way, but I know I have and frankly -it freaks me out. Continuing with my recent approach of being open and honest with myself I wanted to write it down and try to get my head around it.

I noticed recently that I’ve become so obsessed with my Bird Therapy tweets getting liked and re-tweeted, that I’ve been doing what I described above. However, after deleting them I’ve tried to reinvent and post them again in the hope of people noticing. Not only that, but I then spend literally hours checking and re-tweeting my own tweets. I’ve even convinced myself that there are tactical times to post things just because there will be high-volumes of traffic. Not only is it weird, but it’s hugely antisocial and not particularly conducive to my overall well-being.

I apologise to the people and organisations that I constantly tag in pictures; hoping to make raise my profile – Team4natureUK, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Chris Packham, Robert Macfarlane, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Mark Avery, Birdwatch and Birdwatching Magazines to name the main ones. I’m sorry that my narcissistic attention-seeking has essentially ‘targeted’ you.

In any sphere, when you first start out trying to make some sort of name for yourself, you may publicise yourself. Social media can be an excellent platform for doing this but social media can also be a horrible place. Sometimes I take a photo on my phone, not because I want to capture a moment in memory, but because I want to post it on social media. These are behaviours that ultimately are detracting far from my mindful birding ideas – such as physically being on my phone, on twitter, when I’m outside and really should be enjoying nature and/or bird-watching.

I feel a million times better for writing this down and now feel I can make some positive changes regarding this social media ridiculousness. I hope that if you can relate to any of this, that you recognise it isn’t a helpful way to conduct oneself and perhaps, this kind of social media/online impact on well-being will become more prevalent as we become more reliant on technology.

Thanks for reading.

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Five thoughts on “Antisocial Media”

Joe Harkness

Hi Seamus

Thanks for your recent follow and kind comments.

Yes, it really does suck you in and I guess now I’m in a process of sucking myself OUT of it. As per my reply to Brigid above, I’m making progress though and it feels good. You’re spot-on with your observations on culture and community and at the end of the day, if I can reach out to a few people in a meaningful way then what I hoped to do with Bird Therapy is working. Quality over quantity is definitely the way forward!


Joe Harkness

Hi Brigid

Thanks for your comments.

I concur with all you’ve said. I’m now posting once, checking later and avoiding re-tweeting my own posts. I’m only tagging in those who are genuinely relevant to the tweet and I’m trying to avoid NGO’s and public faces, who I’ve accepted, are not really going to be interested. I’m also leaving my phone in other rooms in my house or in my car in order to just leave it alone. It’s starting to work wonders already!


Seamus Sweeney

Joe I have just discovered this blog (via Twitter!) and the first post I read is this excellent , reflective one.

A couple of years ago I started a couple of blogs explicitly as a self discovery exercise and to find links between disparate things I have written over the years.

The role of both evolved and both became more “public”… and I found exactly this phenomenon of disappointment when posts I had crafted (with more than one eye on hit counts) didn’t get any attention (conversely I am surprised at the things that do!) and I found myself trying to whip up enthusiasm from the online heavy hitters…

It does suck you in , doesn’t it, the online world? especially social media …but that is a design feature!

I think trying to focus on quality, in depth work and building a community is the way to go. There is a reasonably healthy online community of “nature therapy” types and I would feel within that , rather than attempting to engage the “big beasts” online, lies a slow building of community.

I’m reading Carl Honoré’s book The Slow Fix which so far I highly recommend… it is a blast against our cultural obsession with quick fixes. I came to it from Simon Garfields “Timekeepers” which is on how our society became obsessed with and defined by time. The point is that both spending time in nature and writing and thinking about it are now quite profoundly counter cultural and in a true sense “subversive” Social media has become the dominant culture of our time and in some ways trying to use it to engage more deeply in anything is a Sisyphean task. But one we can’t avoid!


Hi Joe

This is really interesting. Our community allotment project signed up to Twitter last week and already I’ve experienced the problems you raise here. I was hoping to reach more volunteers, but I’m now not sure that the organisations that can help with that will ‘follow’ , and I feel anxious about how few follows we have, compulsively checking, etc.

But, I’ve also discovered that Twitter is not just for trying to connect to people/ organisations that can help us. I’ve found some interesting individuals who are fellow travellers, whether they are directly involved in community gardens or not. You are one of those people, your tweets are interesting, and give a strong sense of what birds mean to you. So, although I’m not Chris Packham, and you’re not a potential community plot volunteer, I feel that there is a connection in the therapeutic experience. Isn’t this bringing together, what a Social Media is ideally about?

Finally, I think we should set a limit on how long we spend on it on a daily basis, so it doesn’t take over from what keeps us healthy – being and doing outdoors, not in front of a screen.

Warm wishes



Joe, I think it’s great you are being honest with yourself about this. I have been there too, obsessing over tweets and stats, trying to get retweets… But what I have found is that if I don’t get many views or retweets, I feel like I have failed, and it’s harder each time I write to persuade myself it’s worth doing. Does that make sense?
Appreciate you sharing this and it is a timely read for me.
All the best, Paul