During Advent, I decided to take a break from Twitter. I’ve dipped a toe back in here and there over the past few days, but honestly I might keep away for the most part. Twitter might become, in some tortured computer lingo, more of a write space rather than a read space: a place to broadcast my writing, projects, the work of my colleagues, and so forth, rather than something I mindlessly scroll or jump to out of habit anytime I open a new Safari tab. If I continue to use Twitter much as a reading space, I might lean much more heavily in Twitter Lists (which were already a common way for me to use the platform).
I find myself returning to this piece Caitlin Flanagan from earlier this year:
Twitter is a parasite that burrows deep into your brain, training you to respond to the constant social feedback of likes and retweets. That takes only a week or two. Human psychology is pathetically simple to manipulate. Once you’re hooked, the parasite becomes your master, and it changes the way you think. Even now, I’m dopesick, dying to go back.
Part of my own thinking here is Twitter steals my time: my time for thinking, for writing, for meaningfully engaging in the world. There’s also something enticing about being in the know, as it were: keeping up with the latest news, or the discourse of the day, or the controversy of the week (especially as things unfolded during the previous presidential administration) made me feel informed and ahead of the news curve. But, in reality, it did nothing but fuel anxiety, endless scrolling, an incessant desire to keep up with the news – news that I couldn’t actually act on or influence in any meaningful way.
In some ways, I find this really unfortunate – I’ve found Twitter to be an incredible place for professional connections, networking, even building real friendships. So I stick around, because these are real, tangible things that happened because of the bird site and still do happen – but even this is starting to feel like less of a thing.
I’d rather spend that time reading, writing, building, thinking, creating – and I hope to do this more meaningfully as we enter 2022.