June 20, 2019
A Twit No Morefarewell, Twitter
One of my best grade-school teachers, Jerry Hakes, called his students names. We didn’t know what he was calling us—he used big, ten-dollar words—but we knew he was having more fun than we were. In time, we all gave in and looked up the words. Which was the point.
I was “pusillanimous twit”.
It’s easy to criticize Twitter, and hard to quit. The case against it is so obvious, so worn out, that every charge sounds cliche. I made that case, cliches and all, at every slightest provocation, for several years straight. I made it against Medium, when I gave that platform a try. I’ve grown tired of hearing myself talk.
I told clients to stay off Twitter. I told friends to say off Twitter. I told family to stay off Twitter, especially when I was the target of harassment there. All of that was and remains good advice.
Twitter wasn’t good for them. Twitter wasn’t good for me, either. But Twitter was where I had to be, for work, or so I said, and maybe even believed. I’m not on Facebook, and haven’t been for years, because I find it disturbingly gamified and shallow. I’m not on LinkedIn, even though that’s “the work one”, because it was also, in my experience, the creepiest. But I ought to be somewhere. So, Twitter, by process of revulsion-elimination. Because this blog, the one public social presence I’m proud of, somehow doesn’t count.
In succumbing to Twitter as a “must”, I contributed to making Twitter seem a “must” to others. I contributed to enabling them with my own convenient excuse. If Twitter was a problem, I was part of that problem. I knew better at the start, and I know better now. But now I’m willing to do something about it.
It’s one thing to know that I’m paying Twitter tolls. It’s another to know that others are being drawn into conversations to which I contribute, and paying the same or a higher price for my forum of choice. When the price is steep, when Twitter feels sufficiently unwelcoming, the cost-benefit breaks down, and others simply don’t join in. We miss out on each others’ conversation, because despite my unhappiness, all my lingering doubt, I’m passably comfortable on Twitter, and the folks I’m missing aren’t.
I’ve had some great conversations on Twitter, and met some truly great people. I don’t yet know how I’ll make those conversations and introductions happen off the platform. But when it comes down to it, I know I could have more great exchanges than I had on Twitter, because I know some of the folks I really want to learn and share with aren’t active or even present there.
I’m not afraid of missing out. Taking the broader view, I have been missing out. I’d committed to Twitter, rather than to doing the most for every new relationship and prospective relationship before me. I was accommodating Twitter, as a crutch, rather than accommodating those I really want to hear.
I’m not going anywhere, and you people know how to reach me. If you take the time to connect, or stay connected, I’ll only have that much more time, attention, focus, and care you. Twitter is a kind of abundance, but it’s not an abundance of anything I want or need. I’m looking forward to putting more into the people and relationships that really keep me excited to get up and log on every day.
Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.
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