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My Farewell to Twitter (passionatereason.com)
74 points by user_235711 51 days ago | hide | past | web | 54 comments | favorite



I'm was never at the level described by the author, but I left Twitter for the same thing. I too am a creator and I'd get retweets with very little action. That was a huge moment for me because I realized the reality of Twitter. It's one giant bullshit factory.

You can even tell how much it affects the minds of people who are prolific other places. Writers for tech blogs stop writing about useful shit and start writing about the reactions of twitter posts. You can see how the self obsession causes people to try to craft those perfect 140 characters. Everyone thinks they are a comedian.

In the end I found that no matter how diverse your followership, Twitter is a hopeless echo chamber populated by twentysomethings with no real life experience who are chomping at the bit to eat you alive if you don't conform to the enforced political correctness of the moment.

I'll never go back.


> You can even tell how much it affects the minds of people who are prolific other places. Writers for tech blogs stop writing about useful shit and start writing about the reactions of twitter posts. You can see how the self obsession causes people to try to craft those perfect 140 characters. Everyone thinks they are a comedian. In the end I found that no matter how diverse your followership, Twitter is a hopeless echo chamber populated by twentysomethings with no real life experience who are chomping at the bit to eat you alive if you don't conform to the enforced political correctness of the moment.

I wouldn't quite go that far; I barely use Twitter - the concept is not appealing to me and I really don't care for the type of interaction it enables, but to call it an echo chamber is basically the same as calling the Internet an echo chamber. You are limited by your decisions on who you want to associate with and who you want to read. The suggestions may be tailored to you, but ultimately you pick. Anyone can find an echo chamber for themselves on Twitter.

Many businesses have found a lot of value in Twitter - status accounts, event updates, and so on are handled really well through Twitter as the platform lends itself to subscription via text as well; I've used it successfully in the past for such purposes and we never had a problem with it.

How you decide to invest yourself in the system will determine your experience. The social interaction part of twitter isn't for me because it's not really the kind of conversations I like and I find the format limiting. But that doesn't mean it's a bad system, it's just not my cup of tea,


"status accounts, event updates, and so on are handled really well through Twitter"

But Twitter doesn't even guarantee that your followers will see all of these updates.¹ Wouldn't RSS or email be more reliable?

¹https://lee-phillips.org/tsb009009009/


To clarify, we used it for our system status updates and notifications at one of my last places of employment (small university, ~3500 userbase). We didn't have a lot of official followers, but our SMS subscribers, as reported by the various departments and persons of interest across the campus, was sufficient enough to ensure we had a strong and reliable network for notifications.

During all our checks, we never had anyone complains they didn't get the notification via the normal Twitter update or SMS.

Per your link, the opening paragraph seems to summarize that it's "possible", but there really hasn't been evidence. I would frankly assume the same for all services.

In our use-case with the notification, we wanted a redundant system along side our System Status Dashboard (which supported RSS) in order to allow people to check in case the Dashboard was inaccessible. (e.g., consider a scenario where campus intranet goes down and different buildings cannot get an outgoing connection past their switch - redundant update from Twitter allows for this)

Plus, quite frankly, most of our target audience wouldn't bother with RSS :p I know and you know it's easy, but we needed to get people who had little to no technical education quickly connected. It was a lot easier to tell them "text 40404 follow [account]" than to set up the rest.


I think you've actually touched on the precise nature of the problem. It's GREAT as a marketing and PR platform. It SUCKS as an interpersonal communication medium.


Well, one of the author's points was that it didn't work for him as a marketing platform. Perhaps he was doing it wrong?


Yeah, that part surprised me. I use Twitter primarily as a way of keeping up with creators whose work I enjoy. I regularly click links from them, because that is why I follow them. I was surprised to see that with 50,000 followers, not a single one actually wanted to consume what this person creates; or perhaps their followers find other avenues to consuming the author's content.


To be fair about my original point, what you're talking about is when the author tried to use it as a sales tool. Maybe I'm just being pedantic? Anyway, it's lousy for that too.


Maybe I don't appreciate the distinction between "sales tool" and "marketing platform". I'm willing to learn.


I think there is more to it than that now. I think how you market on Twitter is totally unique from the way you do it anywhere else. Success on that medium, depending on the thing you are marketing, can become predicated on a number of things.

For example, I've witnessed game developers who were making truly beautiful things, who got stonewalled because they wouldn't drink the current koolaid. That flavor of koolaid at the moment happens to be the results of the election and defining where you stand. A few years back, I saw great indie companies getting blackballed because of anything less than purist views on subjects like gamergate.

I do think you can penetrate and market well on Twitter, but it comes with quite a few ifs. Maybe this comes, for the first time, with having a marketing platform with instant human feedback (note: I did not say customer).


> I saw great indie companies getting blackballed because of anything less than purist views on subjects like gamergate.

I think that's ok. We used to have a notion that a product is just a product, and we should all just pretend the people making it are apolitical and enjoy the product on its own merits.

But that leads to a world where resources pool up in random places. This guy has a billion dollars because he makes a beverage a lot of people like? Why? Are beverage skills the barometer for deciding how resources are allocated?

I should note that this system works OK when there is an additional pool of public resources that people can rely on. If private revenue is "spending cash" but the state still controls its natural resources, and cities have a commons, and extended families take care of each other, things are kind of OK.

But that's over now, we are privatizing 100% of resources, so now revenue really has to be a perfect proxy for how we think resources should be allocated, from a social/moral perspective.

So now we are moving to a world where that guy needs to not only make a nice beverage but he needs to show that he shares our values, because we're not just buying a soda, we are deciding who will starve, which ecosystems will be destroyed, and what kinds of people will be unemployed.

If someone needs an indie game maker to disavow feminist commentators in order to feel comfortable buying a game... well, I disagree with the moral stance, but I support very much that person's right to spend their money and influence that way. We have no other choice in a capitalist system.


I won't deny that it can be a very divisive platform, and unfortunately people are not always very good at divorcing the product from the artist for certain subjects. It can be a weird disconnect to do so, and I'm not a stranger to it as a fan of Burzum. (Great music, but Varg Vikernes definitely has some distasteful and wrong positions imho). Not everyone is comfortable with that, and I understand that aspect; sometimes our conscious doesn't allow us to cross wires like that and it doesn't sit well to have this sort of inconsistency between "I like the product, but I don't want to support the creator because of X".

Quite frankly, I'm not sure I see the problem with people adhering to their beliefs and standards, and a call for boycott is one of the methods for expressing distaste. It's one tool of many. I may not agree with what people decide to boycott or for the reason they do, but it's their choice to do so. Being on Twitter puts you in a public forum and as such, you are vulnerable and accessible by such protests, and this is how it should be. Counter groups are perfectly allowed to form, and the artist is not stopped from being an arist. (Varg may be an exception here, but I do not doubt that quite a few people really disagreed with his political and social viewpoints, and yet he kept doing what he did regardless, and they kept listening. Those that were too put off just stopped)

Twitter allows for the sort of witch-hunts for any such thing a group desires to be done instantly, with very little cost to the person posting, and with very few reprecussions. We see it from the mass boycotts to unmitigated and open racism on the platform. It's part of the rush and the good feeling of social media, the feel of being part of a crowd or a part of something bigger. I get that it's intimidating, but that's part of being connected to an entire world and audience - sometimes the audience disapproves, and they disapprove harshly.


> to call it an echo chamber is basically the same as calling the Internet an echo chamber

I would argue that there are fundamental aspects of Twitter's design that make it particularly bad in these respects: https://jasonlefkowitz.net/2013/02/i-kind-of-hate-twitter/


Surely you realize that perhaps you're taking your bad experience and extrapolating it to the rest of Twitter?

Saying that Twitter is a "giant bullshit factory" "populated by twentysomethings with no real life experience" is a generalization that invalidates everyone who doesn't fall into your stereotype.


I also wouldn't go that far. I follow the literary scene on twitter and have had no experiences with bullshit, and there certainly aren't very many 20somethings with no life experience among editors, published authors, and literary agents! What party lines? I guess the last big thing was when vox day called nk jemisin a half-savage when she decried him for being racist and part of sfwa. I guess if that's there party line then sure?


I'd like to emphasize that all these social media platforms are >giant bullshit factories.

I, myself, am getting too caught up in it all.


I am proud to say I essentially shun all socia media. I have never had a Twitter or Instagram account. I do have Facebook, but I essentially never use it - I haven't posted anything in years other than "happy birthday" to a few people.

Social media has always been incredibly self-centered and narcissistic. But over the last few years it has become a truly nasty place with all the flame wars and political crap going on. Everyone has something to say. And no one listens to anyone else. I have no use for such a medium in my life.

Twitter is by far the worst of all social media because of the limited message length. No well-reasoned arguments can be expressed in that short limit so we are instead left with a battle for the snarkiest, most sarcastic comments people can muster.

The so-called "discourse" in America (and probably the world) has reached a new pathetic low. I am confident I am not missing out on anything of actual value.


No offense intended, but what you're doing here, a performative version of your life described in a way that makes you look good, is a big social media activity. As is the broad critique of society and particular things in it.

I'd add that I don't think current social media tools are much different than my experience of Usenet and Listservs of yore. Or HN. Or the offline world where a lot of people are thrown together, like schools and workplaces. People are people.

As an introvert, I pretty easily get tired of people, so I can sympathize with your reaction. And I go through periods of seeing the worst in people. But that's more about what I'm seeing than about what people are.


You can't tell the difference between Facebook and HN? C'mon.

You actually have a good point, but by overstressing the similarities of social behavior on different sites you make the point weaker. We do some similar self promotion and efforts to improve how others perceive us in face-to-face interactions as well, but no one would refer to that as "social media".


No, then they just call it "social". Which is my point: the differences between the social media platforms, HN included, are relatively small. The commonalities are vast. People are people.


> Twitter is by far the worst of all social media because of the limited message length. No well-reasoned arguments can be expressed in that short limit so we are instead left with a battle for the snarkiest, most sarcastic comments people can muster.

You're not wrong, but I do think it's fun and cathartic. But you do have to keep it in the context of "this is just people being pithy" and not use it as a primary source. This is more difficult than it sounds, and maybe not worth the damage it causes when people get it wrong.


You know, the author of this blog post echoes my thoughts almost verbatim. I am feeling like I am swept away in filthy, roiling, floodwater every time I switch to my Twitter tab. It has become exhausting, and a detriment to my actual work, so I am going to take a sabbatical.

Facebook to a lesser extent - that platform is still a useful means to communicate with family who are scattered wide.

By far, I am really enjoying Instagram at the moment - it is SO much more peaceful and non-confrontational. I only have a tiny couple of hundred followers, and am following about the same number of friends, musicians, guitar makers, tea manufacturers and such. It is just nice to sit back and scroll through my feed and see uplifting images with NO arguments or one upmanship or sniping going on...


> I am feeling like I am swept away in filthy, roiling, floodwater every time I switch to my Twitter tab.

Surely the answer there is "follow better people"?


Generally, I do, including other developers and business people etc. But of late, the tensions and general angst at the US political situation etc. has meant that normally calm, rational people have been getting frayed around the edges and retweeting or getting involved in online arguments, so my feed is corrupted by that.

I am no innocent, as I have contributed a bit myself of late - it is hard to suppress that welling of indignation, anger and frustration sometimes.


My Twitter feed is very carefully curated, but the signal-to-noise ratio has plummeted over the past few weeks. Between Trump and Brexit, it seems like everyone's buttons have been firmly pushed.


The signal-to-noise on my feed has been on a downward spiral since before the election, it's honestly just gotten progressively worse, with no sign of improvement on the horizon.


I think maybe twitter is bias toward promoting tensions, because people love to have the emotional outlet to complain and be heard. It's just instinct. Spouses often go home and vent to each other about their drama/stress. Using your audience on twitter is no different. Just a basic need to be heard and validated. The top posts on reddit's "ask reddit" forum are usually "what do you hate about ___".

Perhaps instagram is immune to that because it's harder to articulate the "I'm angry" emotion with a camera ?


I'm in the same boat. The signal to noise ratio is way off too. I quit FB and Twitter 2 weeks ago. Been sleeping better, more productive, less aggravated. I have been enjoying instagram as my sole social media outlet.


I was in the same boat, and I understand the frustrations. But then I used third party plugins which can filter out the fluff from twitter & facebook.


I must be using Twitter wrong, because seeing that these articles come up so frequently, I feel like I'm one of the last people who still likes it. I did get turned off when it got marketer heavy (right around when App.net tried to be a thing), but came back to it a few years ago. I only follow ~700 people, and am followed by ~300, so I know I don't get most of the spam that heavily followed people get. In the nearly 10 years I've had an account, I've only posted 5400ish tweets, so I consume far more than I contribute. But, in general, I like it again. I get headlines from my local news outlets, occasional pictures from Star Wars sets, thoughts of other folks I admire and aspire to be like, and an outlet for the short, dumb things I have to say. If I wanted to write longer form, I have a blog, so I have never done those 10+ tweet storm things, and never typed "/1" at the end of a tweet. It's never open on my computer, so it's mostly checked on the couch, while waiting in lines, or when I'm otherwise idle.

I think this is where I differ with the author of the article is that the expectation of return for me from Twitter is zero. If I go a day without checking, I don't care. If I post something to it that dies on the vine, I don't care. Sometimes I get likes, sometimes retweets, but nothing I put out there is expected to have a return.


Honestly - I've been on twitter since the start, in 2015,2016 and now 2017 I find myself enjoying and benefiting from it more each year.


You're ahead of the game if you don't care about any of that. Question is though, why bother using it at that point?


Sometimes just the act of writing something down or putting something out there is therapeutic in a way, isn't it? Sharing can feel good even if it is only with a single other person. Doesn't have to be a 'best seller' and 'liked' the world over to be meaningful to yourself. If I post silly little thought or quip, I'll chuckle to myself, and move on with my life. Doesn't matter to me if anyone else actually sees it, shares it or whatever else. I got the laugh I needed out of it. Maybe someone else will. Maybe no one will. If you're marketing or have some deep need to be loved by internet strangers, the stats are important. But some people just like to share for the sake of sharing and aren't in it for the points.


If you're serious about that, I would just launch your own ghost / wordpress instance.


I should clarify - I don't expect a return on what I put out. I get a ton of value for what I take in, and not using Twitter would take that away to the point of detriment.

I view the article author's point as using Twitter as a platform, and she is getting her value out of it. I look at it like a giant party where I can eavesdrop on interesting people and sometimes say something - sometimes people talk back, sometimes I'm taking to myself in the corner. I'm fine with it, and happy to be at the party.


I have given up on social media too, but not for "Stallman" reasons but rather it makes me unhappy.

Hacker News is the only place I visit and thought HN the websites too. I have visited HN every night for the past 4 or 5 years. It gives me everything I need, I need to stay away from politics though because I don't agree with majority here and discussing things makes me depressed.


+1. HN is a sanctuary and I really hope it stays that way, despite people syaing I am 'sticking my head in the sand' by requesting politics be kept off the site.


I left Facebook a couple years ago and Twitter a couple weeks ago. I used both somewhat successfully to promote my work for a long time.

I find it remarkable how much better my life feels already. I have so much more focus, energy, and concentration to devote to my work. I don't have the constant nagging at the back of my mind to mindlessly scroll. Left without an easy escape, I find my focus tends to go towards actually creating things. And if I feel the itch to interact with people, it's more of a one-on-one interaction.

I highly recommend trying it.


Warning, this will be slightly vulgar. If you go to zoo and see primates that are mad, they sometimes throw ahem waste products at each other. We share 96% (or whatever) DNA with them. I am willing to bet $2.56 that if you did a MRI scan of a monkey in "throw mode" and a human on social media ranting, the same parts of the brain will light up.

I am so sick of politics (all sides)


Did the same in November. The aspect regarding the "silence" mentioned in the article is actually quite amazing. I'm still not fully used to it so sometimes it seems as if I have forgotten to do something important. But no, it's just that there is no witty tweet that has to be drafted or a (possibly heated) discussion that has to be continued.


This seems to be the trend over the past couple of years. Started with Twitter with me, then Facebook, then Reddit. Hacker News, YouTube, and a couple mature news sites are about all I use outside of my own projects at this point. I've even gotten to the point, where I've installed comment section blockers in my browsers, so I won't see all of the horrible things people say to one another these days.

I'm honestly surprised on how much things like SnapChat, and even Facebook are still growing. It must be just the very young crowd, that hasn't gotten completely sick of it by now.


>It must be just the very young crowd, that hasn't gotten completely sick of it by now

Also the older crowd. My mother loves telling me what she saw on facebook. I'd be willing to bet it's just the millennial demographic in the middle that shows low social media usage.

EDIT: Btw, which news sites?


Would be interesting to see that graph, though I suspect we never will.

Edit: Quick scan of google news, and arstechnica is basically enough to get today's info out of the way.


Why not just create a completely new account with no ties to who you actually are, follow the cat picture accounts, Neil deGrasse Tyson and whatever else you are interested in?

Trying to get more followers seems to be the bad thing.


Because you'll wind up in the same place. You might start off more detached, but you'll eventually be just as emotionally invested in the responses to whatever you do with that account.


Went into the article assuming it was another anti free speech whine piece. Was pleasantly surprised that it was more generally about social media, MH, and a dependency cycle.

This pervades social media culture and as is noted in the article-- a user knows it is taking a toll but the rush is a driving factor. It is like drug, or any addiction-- captivating and hard to break.

Decent article, nice change of pace from other articles recently.


Here's a previous HN post along the same lines – the foreboding letter to the future, if you will, from an ex-Google design ethicist: https://medium.com/swlh/how-technology-hijacks-peoples-minds....


I'm right there with you. Unfollowed everyone, set my profile to say "I'm out." and told people to send me an iMessage if they want to chat. I'm still composing meaningless tweets in my mind.

Hopefully another few weeks will cure me of this, although after 10 years, I suspect it might take much longer.


Twitter has been good in the past. After the election, it was still mostly ok. But since the inauguration, it's a completely different story.

One example close to the heart of HN: following tptacek/tqbf for crypto/business/security/how-to-cook-pork/funny-ESR-excerpts for years has suddenly turned into endless berating of people into enduring struggle sessions over support of the President.

And this is but one example. It's happening to everybody. For some reason, the inauguration has turned nominally good Tweeps into horrible human beings.

So yes, I've had to leave Twitter also.


Not gonna lie, clicked this headline hoping it was @jack's resignation.


I enjoyed using Twitter for ~8 years. It gave me access to news and opinions from groups that aren't covered by traditional media, and it functioned as an RSS feed for people I wanted to follow (authors, researchers, etc.)

However, I quit Twitter because it wouldn't let me control my own data. I was in the habit of favoriting things that I wanted to follow-up on. Then Twitter changed Favorites to "likes," which wrongly implies I'm endorsing the content. Twitterati know that likes don't necessarily mean anything, but imagine a customs officer looking at my likes, for example. Twitter doesn't provide a method to batch remove all likes, so I tried various 3rd party utilities. The utilities seemed to work initially, but likes would later reappear, even months later, as if restored from a backup.

This experience helped me see that silos can never be trusted.


Twitter is a great way to get your name out there and establish a relationship with others. It's a terrible way to make direct sales, because that's not why people go to Twitter. If they're on Amazon (which is a place they go to buy stuff) maybe they'll type your name into the search bar because of what they saw on Twitter.

I treat my Twitter account as a personal account. I don't tweet very much, and if I want to take a week off, I don't even check Twitter. I am happy I did that, because I'd hate to feel an obligation to be on there now that everything is politics.


Ok, but who are you?


Interesting - PgUp/PgDn stop working when I maximize the window. I've got a 1440x2560 screen.

Relevance to Twitter? (a) Twitter as its worst is still 10x better than this sort of thing; (b) Twitter's Following page doesn't work properly at this resolution either.




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