Update: I left the site in early November 2022 and locked my account. A searchable copy of my bad tweets is available at hellsite.sambreed.dev.
So I’m thinking about getting off twitter.
The more I use it, the less I get out of it.
I’ve turned into a passive user, one loathe to create and barely there to engage. I don’t want to see my retweets from people I follow.
Only a handful of people see and interact with what I post, and those feel mechanical.
The friends I met on the platform in the early 2010s have all moved on or have large followings.
My following has stayed modest, which I attribute to my considerate pull-back in 2015 when I abdicated my company, got a corporate job, and stopped pursing speaking engagements at conferences.
Now it’s 7 years later and the way I see the world has changed.
I no longer envy engagement for engagement’s sake; I can see through the shills and marketers and shit-posters to the dark heat of the feedback loop.
My phone is not a positive force for my ADHD; if it’s in front of me, I will pick it up and flip through a few screens, seeking the pleasure of the dopamine hit I get from the right type of content: a like, a reply, a recognition, or (usually) just the guilty pleasure of schadenfreude.
I stopped using Instagram on my phone because it felt like an attention trap that I knew well-enough to not interact with too frequently, but like driving past a multi-car pile up, something I couldn’t keep myself from gawking at.
If I had anything important to say, why bother saying it on Twitter when I can self-publish just as easily?
And while we’re asking questions, are the platform and the format even good?
Forced brevity can yield increased clarity of thought, but it’s far from a guarantee.
Ending on a positive note, there are a few good ways to use Twitter:
- Chronological Timeline. Yes, I recognize that much has been made of this. The common joke being that the algorithmic timeline is so bad they have to give you a way to disable it or they wouldn’t have any users. I’m sure this isn’t all true, the algorithmic timeline must have add value for someone, I just know that it isn’t for me.
- Disable all Retweets. I can’t recommend this enough. One of the things that has kept me on the platform has been the ability to read things by the people I follow. When retweets were added, it seemed good, but some of my favorite tweeters are prolific and indiscriminate retweeters, which can make for a feed that’s unpredictably filled with angry content.
- Lists. I feel like this feature isn’t well-promoted in the app for how good it is. Private, pinned lists (named with emoji characters, of course) let you greatly expand the content you’ll see without polluting your main timeline.
- Never tweet. I’m lifting this advice directly from my colleague Keith. Unless you’re a journalist, a marketer, or otherwise earn a living from shitposting, the best possible way to use Twitter is to never tweet under any circumstances.