Seven thoughts on life without Twitter

1. It's very nice. Today's day five, and while I still have the impulse to tweet, I can feel it lessening by the hour.

2. It's less cluttered. Twitter is a sinkhole for time, a place to go and get lost, even for 15 minutes. Without that reliable time-suck, I've been doing more life-giving things, or even just plain productive activities—or just letting myself be bored. That, too, is better than the infinite scroll.

3. Twitter, it turns out, is ubiquitous. I encounter disembedded—or rather, embedded—tweets in a variety of forms: through a simple Google search, through shared links, through articles, through newsletters, through news reporting, etc. It's a healthy reminder of how entangled Twitter is with our national discourse, and actually suggests that Twitter plays a more central role in folks' daily intake (however passive) than raw counts of profiles and time on the platform itself would suggest. (Though that role would have more to do with Twitter as a medium and less to do with the culture of the Extremely Online who inhabit it continuously.)

4. The strongest urge I have to resist is "seeing what people are saying about X." Occasionally that might be edifying. But nine times out of ten it would not. Existing outside the loop, or arriving late to some bit of news, commentary, or piece of writing, is a perfectly healthy state of being. Compulsively attempting to avoid it at all costs is decidedly unhealthy.

5. I do miss using Twitter as an RSS feed. I'm sure a few articles have slipped through the cracks this week. Oh well. The dozen or so websites I visit each day on top of the newsletters that deliver recommended reading should mostly do the job. And even here, I remind myself: four out of five articles I see recommended I save to InstaPaper and never find the time to read. There's just too much out there. Might as well lessen the flow of the spigot anyway.

6. I wrote something on Monday that I realized I could not then and there, on my self-assigned rules, tweet out to folks. I think this Saturday I will amend my rules to permit tweeting out a link without being "on" Twitter. Fortunately this blog has a Twitter icon that will automatically tweet the URL out on one's feed without even having to go to Twitter's website oneself. I'll start doing that next week.

7. I'm already a prolix monologuer prone to soapboxes—I'm in the classroom 12 hours a week, for goodness' sake; I've got to have something to say!—and Twitter does not aid in mitigating that tendency. It's cotton candy for People With Thoughts. And this week, I've had thoughts on a bunch of random stuff, not least, e.g., the NBA-China debacle. But as it turns out, those thoughts are (at least at the moment) only tweet-size. They're candy bars of thought. Mostly brief commentary, studded with righteous condemnation and varied attempts at humor. For whose benefit would I offer such empty calories? Not mine. Not others. Not the topic itself. Is the goal to go viral? No. To turn up the volume on the noise? No. To start a conversation? Maybe. But why not have that conversation face to face, or via email, rather than "in public"—saddled with the dopamine-inducing gambling tricks of Silicon Valley? No thanks. I'm just not that important, or interesting. Which is what Twitter et al want to hide from us at all costs. But it's true, and the sooner we all learn to live with that fact, the sooner we'll be at peace.


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