A week or so ago a few friends and I in a group chat were discussing a news story and how it didn’t map particularly well onto the established talking points of America’s respective political ideologues.
“Maybe something good will actually happen because the ideologues will need a week or so to get their talking points figured out?” I asked. Then someone said “LOL.” And another friend replied, “tell me you’re not on Twitter without telling me you’re not on Twitter.”
So apparently ideology is still ascendant and the speed at which it can assimilate discordant news into itself is as rapid as ever.
But, yeah, it’s been about ten weeks without the blasted thing so here’s a short update, for those who are interested: Sometimes when I read people talk about their life after leaving Twitter, you get the impression that the heavens opened, choirs sang, and they entered into a period of zen-like restfulness that they’d never before experienced.
That hasn’t really been what’s happened for me. I’m still on the internet a bunch due to my job. I’m even still using a type of social media a fair bit—it’s just Slack and Discord instead of Twitter or Facebook. And technically I still have an active Twitter account, I just post to it through Buffer. The only tweets I’ve posted from within Twitter since mid-March were when I needed to login to delete some intemperate tweets and post a public apology for my remarks.
That aside, I’ve only posted via the Buffer app and seldom log in, save when I occasionally pop in to make sure I haven’t missed a direct message I need to answer. Yet even now when I do open the site, I find that I have basically no desire whatever to post anything. Getting away completely for a few weeks (I went a solid month without logging into the account when I first changed my use patterns with it) seems to have completely destroyed any desire I have to be personally engaged on the platform.
What I can say has changed is that I spend much less time feeling angry at people I’ve never met face-to-face or dwelling on arguments with strangers on the internet. There’s something incredibly deranged about a culture in which a firm whose chief purpose is to facilitate angry exchanges strangers, spread propaganda and ideology, and to make people feel anxious or angry is plausibly worth $44 billion. The other thing that has changed is that I think I’m reading a bit more. I know I’m writing more. I’ve written a book chapter, a conference paper, and a bunch of things for the main site over these past two months. I don’t think I’d have done that if I was still using the bird site.
With regard to reading, I’ve started using Notion to track all of my online reading and book reading. My thought is that, particularly with the online reading, I can use the log in Notion to see what authors I’m reading a ton of, what outlets I read the most, and then make some decisions about reading habits to change in the future.
For books, I’ve been reading fiction for the first time in years and also listening to audiobooks more than in the past. Both of those have been really helpful as it has helped to balance out some of my reading patterns.
The only other development of note, I think, is that I’m starting to try and learn a bit. about gardening. What I realized over the pandemic is that you can learn a ton just from spending some time on YouTube with a couple well-selected channels. How to Drink and The Educated Barfly have taught me a ton about cocktails. The KQED channel that posts Jacques Pepin videos plus Kenji Lopez-Alt have taught me a ton about cooking. And now I’m trying to learn what I can about gardening. I’ve not started any projects yet, but for now I’m just dreaming and trying to come up with some ideas. We’ll see where it goes.
I suppose the simplest way of capturing the benefit of leaving Twitter for me is simply that my temporal bandwidth has grown significantly. Actually, a better way of saying it is probably that my temporal bandwidth is still what it was, but now I’m not using any of it on Twitter. So there’s room for other pursuits.
Anyway, get off Twitter. It’s bad for you.