I joined Twitter on April 1, 2008, which puts me in the 84th percentile for my Twitter age, an early adopter. I loved the platform for many years, but recently Twitter and I reached a point of no return in our relationship. It’s over. I think.
For me, Twitter started as a cool way to follow my favorite athletes, business leaders, comics, and personalities. Then I figured out how to use Twitter as my personalized custom-curated morning newspaper, and then eventually my primary (and then only) source of news. A few years ago Twitter introduced a feature called Moments, a collection of trending tweets consolidated by topic, and I loved checking that.
Over the years I noticed a sort of collective consciousness developing. For any major news story, sporting event, or catastrophe, you could find me glued to my phone to see how the hive mind known as the Twitterverse was reacting. Where else would you rather be during election season or the World Series or after watching the season finale of Game of Thrones?
Being a part of this collective was mostly a fun way to pass some downtime, but this started changing over the past 3 years or so. All I seem to find on Twitter these days is outrage. Not my own outrage mind you, but the hive’s outrage. The hive’s outrage is the massive and overpowering undertow of anger that sucks you into darkest oceans of Twitter so deep that you can’t touch the bottom. The problem is it can be quite entertaining.
Outrage over what? Well there’s nothing more outrage-inducing today than politics. Exhibit A:
When you see a doozy of a Tweet like that you just know the comments below it are going to be salty. There might be literally thousands of 140 character Tweets of fury in there. Maybe I’ll just peak at a couple…
Outrage comments are deep fried Oreo’s for the mind, and Twitter has become a State Fair filled with these evil treats. Trends, Moments, even the people I chose to follow like comics have all taken fun and inspiration off the menu and replaced them with doughnut-bun-burgers of hate.
And we all know the problem with junk food. It feels great when you’re eating it, but how many times have you said, “Gee, I’m really glad that I just ate all that General Tsos’ chicken, pork fried rice, crab rangoons, two shrimp eggrolls and all of the fortune cookies and duck sauce packets”? You’ve said that never times, that’s how many.
My junk information diet has caused my brain to be in a constant post-junk slump. I read recently (probably on Twitter), that you’re not just the average of the 10 people you spend the most time with. You’re also the average of the information you consume. Garbage in equals garbage out, and my many hours on Twitter had left me feeling like just that, garbage. I’m tired of seeing people be mean to each other. So about 10 days ago I quit my beloved Twitter cold turkey.
I want to go back to a simpler time. When I was a kid I didn’t give a damn about politics. Mostly because I was a kid, but also because I don’t seem to remember my parents, aunts or uncles, teachers, or any other grown ups I knew giving a damn about politics back then either. Maybe I’m remembering the 80s and 90s incorrectly, but I seem to remember people just cared less about about politics by an order of magnitude or two compared to today.
Now you might say that I should care more about politics, that it’s my civic duty to be informed and to vote and get involved and have a voice and take a stand, and blah blah blah. And maybe you’re right. But the truth is, deep down, I really don’t care that much. It doesn’t really matter to me who’s in office or what party controls whatever. I don’t feel like those things actually affect my life in any meaningful way. Like it would take a tremendous amount of time and energy for me to have an educated opinion on something like international trade relations, something that the laws of physics prevent from me caring any less about. So I’ll let you guys take care of the politics. I’m out.
How do I feel since quitting? 10 days in, if I feel any different at all, I probably feel a little worse. I think maybe it’s Twitter withdrawal. My low information diet might be healthier, but it sure is boring. Sure, I get to ride around on my high-horse pretending to be above the fray, but I’m secretly wanting to grab a bowl of popcorn and read some angry Twitter wars for hours and hours and hours. I don’t know, maybe I’ll go back some day. I only deleted the app from my phone, I didn’t actually delete my account.