Twitter Detox

I’m on day 4 of going cold turkey off the Twitter Pipe — personal account only; still managing the work accounts — and after some early withdrawal pains over the weekend, I feel like I’m settling into a comfort zone. I’ve unpinned the website from my browser, removed it from my phone and tablet’s home screens, and turned off all notifications to remove any temptations. Coincidentally or not, I swear Twitter’s email notifications got more aggressive over the weekend.

Somewhat surprisingly, I haven’t really missed it today, which was the first real test after enjoying the unseasonably warm weather outdoors over the weekend. Of course, like quitting smoking or other addictions — and let’s be honest, for some of us, Twitter had become an unhealthy addiction — it’s left a gaping hole in my life. Over the years, Twitter had evolved into my main source of current events, engagement with topics of interest, and connections with people I’ve known for years but am unlikely to see in person any time soon. The spoke became a hub, something the marketer in me knew was very wrong.

This weekend, instead of letting my eyeballs and clicks support you-know-who on the heels of massive layoffs that included a relative, I started cleaning up my Instapaper account and checked in on Mastodon a few times to see how it might fit into my new digital diet. Instead of trying to stay on top of all the “clever” dunks, subtweets, and hot takes, I read a few newsletters rather than marking them as unread, where they’d previously remain for weeks. Instead of doomscrolling, I read some more of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow; flipped through a few magazines that have been piling up like unread emails; watched some soccer; and played some Cyberpunk 2077, and a lot of Marvel Snap.

Three pictures: Marvel Snap; various magazines on shelves,; Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow book,.

This morning, instead of trying to catch up on what I’d missed over the weekend, I slept in an extra 15 minutes, and when I sat down to work, I started working.

I knew Twitter had become a damaging timesuck, I just didn’t realize how much it had become an obstacle to doing so many other things throughout the day.

While browsing the shelves at our local Barnes & Noble over the weekend, I looked at the crowded magazine rack with fresh eyes, remembering how many critical sources of highly curated and edited information about a range of topics had ceded their position in favor of serving algorithms and chasing clicks on platforms they had no control over.

I’d like to think a broader reckoning is coming for social media in general, but even if not, I’m relishing this opportunity to rethink how and where and why I engage online moving forward. There’s still a possibility of Twitter finding its footing and becoming an important channel for me again, but I’m officially preparing for a future without it.

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