But speaking of being social, a survey landed in my inbox last week from Twitter (amongst about 15-20 weekly emails from them). I hadn’t posted on the platform in a while, but I thought I would bite and answer the survey. Halfway through, it asked whether I had observed abuse on Twitter. Yeah. Far too much.
By the end of the survey, I had made my mind up to delete my account.
I’m over Twitter. I haven’t been looking at it as regularly, let alone posting. My last tweet was half a month ago. And on average I might retweet something once a week. For a platform where content is a firehose of information, a single post is meaningless. Less of a scream at the aether than a whimper.
It wasn’t always like this. We all used to engage more, have conversations, connect. I used to host rotational curation accounts like the @WeLoveAural music lover’s account, and spend a week posting music videos and conversing about the joys of music. Last I checked, that account was on hiatus, looking for new hosts.
What I have seen rise in the place of that community is more angst. Nearly every tweet is a venting of rage, or a retweeting of the abuse that gets spewed forth by bots and trolls. It’s unhealthy, seeing that as an ongoing feed. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four referred to “Two Minutes Hate”.
Twitter made it a 24/7 enterprise.
It’s not something that has emerged recently though. It’s just hit a breaking point. The platform has been restricted from the beginning by a fundamental flaw: you can’t hold a civilised conversation in 140 characters. Sure, you can link to something long-form, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of people won’t read it. It’s especially true when they’re trying to process a firehose of information.
Perhaps the difference is that some years ago, people used to respect that (for the most part). A polite agreement to disagree, or to move the conversation to a channel that allowed deeper discourse.
Now it’s all shouting.
There’s too much angst in the world right now, and a lot of unnerving things have happened. I’m still processing it. But Twitter isn’t helping.
I quit a social platform once before. Facebook. I was one of the first Australian users and an early adopter of using it to promote organisations. But I quit it because at the time it was making me less social, and I wanted to spend more time communicating with friends. It didn’t quite pan out that way (that’s another story which requires a few beers). But life went on.
So Twitter, I’m out. I doubt I’ll miss you.