Patton Oswalt is undertaking a little social media detox for the summer. The stand-up comedian, actor, writer and prolific Twitterer posted a long message on Facebook early Sunday morning announcing that he was quitting Twitter and Facebook for the summer in order to "de-atrophy the muscles [he] once had."
While insisting that he wasn't writing a diatribe against the information age, Oswalt highlighted a common pattern among social media devotees. "I've become my own tyrant – Tweeting, and then responding to my own responses, and then fighting people who disagree with me," he wrote. "Constantly feeling like I have to have an instant take on things, instead of taking a breath, and getting as much information as I can about the world. Or simply listening to the people around me, and watching the world and picking up its hidden rhythms, which crouch underneath the micro and the macro."
Although Oswalt didn't explain the immediate circumstances behind his decision, The Huffington Post pointed out earlier this week that he had attracted quite a big of ire after sending out a tweet on Friday commenting on hostile reactions to the #YesAllWomen hashtag movement that grew out of last weekend's shootings in Santa Barbara.
"Fellow nerds: y'know how mad we get when jocks confuse Marvel & DC? Women feel that way when men confuse rape with sex (x1000) #excelsior," Oswalt wrote. The note drew criticism from people on both sides of the issue, leading Oswalt to send out a series of explanatory tweets. "Wow. The Marvel/DC rape tweet. Everyone, please..." he wrote. "I was trying to speak directly to all of the MRA dolts in my feed and all their disgusting reactions to #YesAllWomen. That ANY of you took it for a joke is beyond me. There is NO comparison between rape & any MRA concerns. THAT WAS MY POINT."
Whether or not the recent entanglements have anything to do with Oswalt's vacation, the comedian seemed mostly concerned with what his social media habit was doing to his cognitive function. "I've aggressively re-wired my own brain to live and die in a 140 character jungle," he wrote. "I've let my syntax become nothing more than a carnival barker's ramp-up to a click-able link where I'm trying to sell something, or promote something, or share something I had no hand in making."
Perhaps the move is also connected to the personal transition Oswalt described in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. "As you get older, just like as I'm stripping down in terms of what I love and hate, I'm stripping down in terms of language," he said. "I want things to be more of an actuality and less of a kind of decorative collage."
Oswalt plans to return to Twitter and Facebook on September 2nd. In the meantime, his accounts will be used only to drop a few announcements to promote his shows and movies, scheduled to post well in advance.