I don’t really enjoy repeating the same basic discussion over and over again, so I thought I’d just do it once in a blog: I’m breaking my access to my own Twitter account. Yes, I’m OK, and no, this is not a sudden decision on my end- it’s something I’ve been low-key fantasizing about for a few months, but hadn’t quite crossed the rubicon on yet. Over the past week, though, I’ve been using Twitter in essentially a write-only mode where I could send my own messages out, but without reading everyone else’s. Frankly, it was great! Nobody could dump intrusive thoughts into my head, I had a greater degree of focus, and I got more done in my personal interests.
But it’s difficult to sustain that kind of usage pattern without just logging in and using it as normal. At least for me it is- but that might be because of the unusual journey I’ve had on that platform. I started off using it to follow Detroit City FC news and getting involved with the community. After that, I soon added in following interesting personalities in InfoSec, getting news, and finding great material that advanced my understanding of that world.
For awhile everything was pretty enjoyable for me. I learned how to tightly filter my feed to only what I really wanted. I was able to use the platform to help build up several communities I was in, meet more people in the process at a time when I was at a real risk of becoming socially isolated, and learn a ton. This eventually escalated to getting behind-the-scenes looks at information that was decidedly not meant to be public, to finding the weak points of plenty of organizations that deserved to have them probed, and putting out plenty of material that I’m still proud of. I regularly played with the medium itself to try and experiment with what unusual things you could say on it.
I think those days are past, though. Shenanigans were the peak of what I got out of the site- but as much as I always said that they couldn’t possibly escalate to be any more ridiculous than the latest episode, I believe that this time there really is no further escalation that doesn’t wind up with higher and higher risks of negative consequences. But the pattern continued enough that I can feel my brain perceiving the site differently. The cultural issues were interesting for awhile, but in the end- well, most of them were lies, weren’t they? Differences of minutiae, nothing more, and even then only for a season. Eat at Arby’s.
So now that the unique parts of my own Twitter experience are over, all that’s left is the more typical experience of the site. Intrusive thoughts about so many issues that there’s no energy left to fight any of them substantially. Communication patterns that are poorly matched to how our brains and social structures evolved. All mixed in with just enough dopamine to keep you using.
No thanks. I’ve got other things to do with my life. But I wanted to end my time here on brand, so when I had this come to mind on March 31st, I knew I had to quit on April 1st. Just to make you roll your eyes at first, sigh at the stupid tone-deaf April Fool’s Day joke, and then lift your eyebrow when there really was no follow-up on April 2nd. After this post goes live, I’m going to remove my Two-Factor Authentication token from my storage and log out. I have no idea how to recover after this, and it’s enough work that I won’t bother.
Unfortunately, I know from quitting Facebook twice that as much as it’s worth it to quit a social media platform, there’s a risk to my real life social life with this. It’s just that little bit easier for you to reach me if you can just send me a Twitter DM inviting me out to that party or checking in on how I’m doing. I’d really prefer not to lose touch with people over this! But there’s hundreds of you and I couldn’t very well go down the list and bug each and every person before doing this, or I wouldn’t actually log out and move on.
So please, send an email to sam.L.email@example.com. Swap phone numbers. Text me, call me, email me- if we’re friends, let’s keep in touch somehow. The birdsite is bad, but the people on it are good.