So I’ve been thinking about Twitter a lot recently.
I know, me too.
More specifically, I’ve been thinking about my own experience with the platform. I joined Twitter back in June 2012. It was much different from what it is now. I mean, I remember when the limit was still 140 characters per tweet, and threads were just not a thing.
I think what really appealed to me about the platform was the same thing that captured to hearts and souls of so many Zoomers in TikTok—namely, the way the short-form content required zero commitment while supplying all the dopamine. And while TikTok kind of ruined that, what with the 3-minute videos now being a thing, I think Twitter was still able to maintain that sense of short-form content as any thread or videos can be pretty quickly parsed through without having to make any extra time commitments.
As it stands, my Twitter account is currently at 5,532 tweets, which is honestly not that many in the grand scheme of the internet. When I joined Twitter, I saw it as a unique way for the world to engage in a sort of universal discourse, but much like my Facebook page, it quickly became just a hub where I’d go to see memes or post the occasional dad joke. I still had people I followed that would partake in some social commentary, but it was almost 100% stuff I already agreed in, and I got to the point early on where I tended to tune out the controversial stuff.
I think one of the best things I ever did on Twitter was back in 2017 or 2018 when I started getting overwhelmed by the flood of tweets on my timeline, which just wasn’t a part of my life in a major way anymore. So to solve this, I went all Marie Kondo on my list of nearly 400 followed Twitter accounts and threw out anyone who didn’t absolutely 100% contribute to some level of value for myself until I was down to 100 accounts.
By forcing myself to keep this list down to those 100 accounts, I found myself more apt to drop accounts if a person I followed either stopped being someone whose tweets I enjoyed reading or got some value out of. So when let’s say, certain political figures who enjoyed partaking in posting outrageous statements for the sake of angering the populace and encouraging an entourage of angry retweets, I pretty quickly just got bored with the pattern.
I mean, if you’re going to say things like “rap music isn’t real music” or “real men don’t read books,” I just don’t get the point in even having a discourse with you at that point. These aren’t conversations any intelligent person needs to be partaking in because they’re not even remotely credible. Instead, they’re carefully crafted targets looking to piss off a specific demographic.
In many ways, I think that’s the real problem with Twitter. We can talk all day about the dangers of bots, misinformation, or free speech. But the real problem is the same problem that persists in any social media, which operates by implementing an algorithm to achieve peak user interaction.
So many of the now infamous figures got their start by making outrageous claims and then riding on a wave of angry responses until their statements gained national attention, allowing them to—oh, I don’t know; have dinner with a former president of the united states?
This is what drives me up the wall with platforms like Twitter. So many people claim to be interested in having a nuanced conversation on the topics that the “radical left doesn’t want questioned” but you don’t get nuanced or even good conversations with short 280-character statements. Instead, you get ratio’d in the replies by someone with a clever quip.
And in case it seems like I’m just someone who’s angry at Elon Musk—and don’t worry, I definitely am, and he’s still the worst. However, this is also something I’ve been frustrated at with some of the younger leftists on Twitter. People post articles from places like the New York Times with statements like “Oh, I can’t believe the New York Times would say this,” as if they’ve never heard of an opinion piece.
If ideas are bad—and they quite often are—you ought to be able to address them in a constructive manner. But unfortunately, the people who are doing this don’t get very high in Twitter’s algorithm. Instead, it’s whoever came up with the most clever response to the headline—not even anything said in the article!
I want to be 100% honest here; I have repeatedly fallen for this same tactic whenever someone says something that pisses me off to my core. Even recently, there have been tweets I’ve sent in a moment of anger only to regret it later. Fortunately, my reach on Twitter is insanely small, but still, I am in no position to be lecturing anyone.
I guess I’m just tired of it. For the past three years, I was always thinking we were on the verge of no longer relying on these shallow methods, and I myself kept thinking I was past it.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the reason that these problems persist throughout different journalism sources and social media algorithms is that we are the lowest common denominator that they’ve been factoring for this whole time.
Anyway, long story short, I think I need some kind of break from social media. I’m not leaving Twitter or Facebook (at least, not yet). I just need to break this constant habit of subconsciously logging onto Facebook or Twitter every time I get a spare moment with my phone.
All I end up doing is doom-scrolling until I find something that gets me in a bad mood or feeling depressed. Even with my limited 100 account-following method, I’ve somehow ended up with a timeline whose only purpose has been to piss me off. Whatever good I got out of Twitter throughout the years, I’m starting to think it’s stopped serving that purpose.
This isn’t an announcement of any kind; I just wanted to get some of my thoughts out. This morning I removed both Twitter and Facebook from my phone in an attempt to encourage myself to get my news and entertainment from more wholesome sources, so we’ll see how that goes.