National / Media | Japan Pulse

Feeling burned out by social media? You probably aren't alone

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

Some of the most popular users of social media platforms such as Twitter are expressing frustration with life online.

Adult film star and media personality Makoto Toda joined Twitter in 2016 and quickly established a strong following that extended far beyond her profession. 

By the start of July, she had attracted more than 89,000 followers, with posts that ranged from promotional tweets about upcoming events and photographs from vacations overseas to sharing the songs she’s listening to

Domestic sites shared collections of her “cute” photographs (some being slightly more risque than others, though all safe for work), and Toda has since extended her online presence to Instagram and live-streaming sites.

Toda has used social media in the same way that many in the industry have — as a way to share her life, but also establish a personal brand that helps her career. She also appears to have enjoyed using Twitter as a platform on which to express herself and communicate with fans.

On July 2, however, she uploaded a post on Note in which she revealed she was quitting Twitter altogether.

Beginning the post with a preamble on how much she liked to communicate with fans on the platform, she admitted she had started feeling addicted to it and paid too much attention to the number of likes her uploads were getting. 

More importantly, though, she felt the atmosphere of Twitter had changed for the worse. She identified two graphic posts that had spread on the site recently — one shared by animal rights activists of a beheaded elephant; another featured photos from the crime scene of a recent viral murder — as examples of the atmosphere changing for the worst. 

She also described the way other users were communicating with her, with more people reacting negatively to her most banal tweets and trying to attack her over nonexistent online transgressions. Toda also described how her profession had generated negativity online. 

Toda’s account still exists but only promotional tweets have been uploaded on it in recent times.

In her post on Note, Toda says that she wants to stop feeling as if she has to be on Twitter constantly, though she appreciates all the online fans who have been nice to her.

Netizens have expressed certain reservations about Twitter and other social networks ever since they launched. The criticism has escalated in recent years, especially in the English-speaking world. 

Concern about the site has reached a point where an entire cottage industry based on leaving Twitter has emerged (eat your heart out essays titled “Why I Left New York”). 

This hasn’t been the case in Japan until recently. In the summer of 2018, though, a handful of prominent celebrities including Ayame Goriki and Rie Miyazawa left Twitter. It was the first time a string of famous folks moved away from social media en masse, and netizens certainly sat up and took notice.

In 2019, the number of users who have admitted cutting ties with Twitter has risen. One notable account focuses on men in their 30s who have abandoned the platform — the original demographic for Twitter in Japan. The account details why former users decided to leave the platform, primarily noting that behavior has changed substantially in recent times.

A Japan-based site collected tweets and posts from those who had grown sick of not only Twitter, but other sites as well — it turns out that a lot of people weren’t actually keen on Facebook selling their data to the highest bidder.

Toda’s departure from Twitter connected with many online. Some hoped her message would spread to even more people, while others celebrated how real it felt. Whatever the reaction, her voluntary departure from Twitter was noticed by numerous users.

One can often feel deflated when logging in to social media these days, and Toda’s essay captures the many ways in which these sites have become dispiriting in riveting detail. 

It’s worth noting that her essay came out during a week in which the positive impact of Twitter was also on display. Japanese and international users used the site as a way to push back against Kim Kardashian West’s “Kimono” line of underwear, prompting her to change the name

That said, others have claimed that the backlash against the underwear has only helped to promote Kardashian West’s brand, because — tongue firmly in cheek — the one thing the Kardashians have definitely lacked up until now was attention. 

With everything that’s being discussed on social media these days, it’s probably worth considering taking a break from the conversation. Even that debate alone might be enough to have you tearing your hair out.