Why I quit Twitter
Update November 2022: Why I love Mastodon. Follow me at https://toot.cafe/@JesseSkinner
I used to love Twitter. When I signed up in 2008, it was a new place to publicly talk with people from around the world. Over time, more people joined, and it became a great place to hear the latest news and gossip in the web development community. I enjoyed seeing famous people chatting and even roasting each other. It was exciting to hear rumours and see things unfold in real-time that would end up on the mainstream news. I'd spend a lot of time crafting tweets. Tweeting became part of my thought process, so that when something interesting in my life happened, I'd instantly start thinking of how to explain it in 140 characters.
Last year, that novelty wore off. I don't know if it was because of the increasingly divisive political environment in the USA, or the pandemic making everyone more stressed out and less patient, or if it was something that would've happened regardless. Every time I went on there, I'd come away with a bad taste in my mouth, angry or frustrated about one thing or another. I don't mean angry about injustices or world events, where the feeling is justified. I'm talking about being furious that somebody was wrong on the Internet!
Twitter started to remind me of one big comments section for the Internet, with everyone fighting about everything. People who I admired regularly get swept up in this hatred. One person vents their frustration over something, another tries to make a tasteless joke, others jump in to attack the replies, others jump in to defend, and on it goes.
I already stopped using Facebook years ago, and never got into Instagram or other platforms much, so Twitter had become the place I'd go on my phone when I had some spare time or just felt like zoning out for a while. I started to notice a pattern, that I would frequently tell my wife about things unfolding on Twitter, usually some big controversy that had everyone riled up. Whether I agreed or disagreed, I would get swept up in it. She was very patient to let me tell these stories, but would remind me that I don't have to share everything that happened on there.
The problem was, Twitter was taking up more and more of my thoughts and my mental energy. I would find myself thinking about these controversies and tweets in my free time, wondering if I should jump in with my opinion, but more often, I was just emotionally watching these things unfold from the sidelines, scared to be caught in the crossfire.
I finally decided to quit on Christmas morning. After opening presents from Santa and having Christmas breakfast, I habitually and unfortunately pulled out my phone and turned to Twitter for some heart-warming tweets. First thing I saw was a politician wishing everyone a happy holiday, and another politician replying to that with "Bite me". I couldn't believe it. I wanted to write back and call this politician out for being crass, tasteless and mean. But I realised there that then I would also be swept into this hate-fest as well, on a day where I should be focused on my family and having a lovely day. I decided right then that this would be the last time I read my feed on this hateful, toxic platform.
I decided that I don't need Twitter at all. I can't think of any real benefits I'd ever gained from using Twitter. I already have my blog, my newsletter and my YouTube and Twitch channels, where I can share my ideas and express myself. There's no good reason to continue to pour my energy into crafting content that ends up contributing to and supporting a private platform I don't even like.
The past few months have been wonderful. I installed a nice, simple blog reader called "Flym" on my phone, and subscribed to a bunch of web development blogs, some I had read on Google Reader back in the day, others were new to me. It's so much nicer to read longer, well-thought-out blog posts, that leave me feeling inspired, educated, and curious about the topics I'm interested in.
The one thing I'm kind of missing is the ability to write very short content to share a small thing I'm excited about or find funny. I figure that I'm better off to put that creative energy into blogging and writing newsletters more often, even if that means writing shorter posts, though probably more than 140 or 280 characters at a time.
Anyway, I just wanted to get off my chest all the reasons you hopefully won't find me active on Twitter anymore, and let you know that you'll likely find me writing blog posts on here more often.
Here are some other web development bloggers I've been enjoying lately, and I'm eager to find some more. If you also have a blog, I'd love to hear from you so I can subscribe to your RSS feed in my blog reader!