Quitting a Twitter Habit

I finally figured out the exact qualities that I dislike about Twitter, and I want to describe how the decision to make my collection of 351,000 tweets private, uninstall the mobile app, and stop using the service on a daily basis, felt so worthwhile and consequential after I did.

I felt like my daily Twitter usage had become a bad habit that was slowly killing me, similar to an addiction to cigarettes or alcohol, except that unlike those drugs, the damage to my physical health was limited to a relative lack of physical exercise, while the real damage was caused to my mental and emotional well-being, my attention span, my outlook on the future, and my use of time. Fortunately, those changes were swiftly reversed after I decided to stop paying attention to the Twitter app.

I think that Twitter is unfortunately a harmful user experience, even by today’s FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) standards of allowable levels of Internet addictiveness.

Twitter, for a service used primarily by allegedly grown adults, seems especially damaging to one’s self-esteem. It thrives on rancor, judgment, “calling out”, bullying, complaining, disparaging, mocking, showing off, blocking, muting, spamming, liking, following, retweeting, hijacking other people’s threads, and cute animal photos. It has a very limited repertoire, in other words.

Books and documentaries have been produced about the damage caused to heavy consike of Fox News’s daily diet of fear, suspicion, rumor, and anger. Even the other more reputable 24-hour cable news channels share the same business model of bringing viewers to a state of continuous stimulation about whatever’s going on in the world at that moment. Twitter is like that too, except with all the channels of stimulation jumbled together. There’s always something to be distracted by.

So that’s the first major problem I have with Twitter as a social media user experience (UX): it thrives on outrage, conflict, and stimulation, but not in a way that’s ultimately productive. The character constraint is a major challenge, which they can never resolve because users have grown accustomed to seeing and responding to information in bite-sized chunks. Everything is ultimately ephemeral and difficult to visualize as part of any larger structure, because of how poor the searching & organizing functionality is (Moments are a terrible use of screen real estate).

I may follow up with additional analysis later, but I think abandoning the domineering and egotistical world of Twitter will be a good thing for my state of mind, at least.

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