A staff writer at The Atlantic was addicted to Twitter. Here's why she quit

Originally published at: A staff writer at The Atlantic was addicted to Twitter. Here's why she quit | Boing Boing




i agree with her. i quit twitter mid-way through 2017. not that i tweeted much, but just could not stop reading people’s comments on other tweets and it was getting me very stressed and angry. signed up originally just to follow baseball news! but after the election in 16 and getting sucked into the political threads i knew it was time to get out. happy i did.


Heads up that that link to The Atlantic is completely munted.


I quit using Twitter because I felt they harmed the nation by giving trump a platform for his bullshit. And I’m not going back because they finally ousted him either. They simply put fucked with my life by helping trump and I hope they go down the drain.


Actual link, to save others from needless googling (or DuckDuckGoing, in my case)


Thank you. Good essay!


Way back when I worked at unnamed IT company, a dev came in before a meeting and said, “Check it out, this guy just started something called Twitter,” and demoed it for everyone. At the time, it seemed like a great way to avoid work, narcissize, and interfere with everyone else’s day by announcing, “I’m pooping!” Turns out that’s exactly what it was, and it only got worse. Never got a Twitter account, never regretted it.


WHY INDEED, media peeps.

If you consume a lot of mainstream writing, podcasts or TV journalism, you might be surprised to learn that most normal people don’t engage with Twitter at all, and are only aware if it because the above groups treat it like the axle of human existence. Which is, like, a lot less relatable than all writers assume.


Not even my spouse wants to know what I’m doing/thinking every hour of the day.


Without naming any names that start with “B” and end with “oingBoing,” I will say that the thankfully-still-relatively-small handful of times that I interact with a Twoot come from a certain website (that I am, coincidentally, currently using to write this comment) because reading about 60% of the stories or watching their associated videos (ANOTHER SCOURGE!) require clicking through to Twooter.


Yes, and I was being a little shady, but in fairness BingBong never pretended to not be a very online website. But the NYT and the Guardian (for example) are supposed to be the sources the internet comments on; when they reinvent themselves as glorified Twitter feeds, they’re turning civilisation into a big giant sewage ourobouros, which one shouldn’t do.


I jumped onto Twitter sometime after Google+ went away. It was in part because part of the community I followed had moved there. Also because it was actually active and easy to join. The pandemic of course increased my usage to the point I was checking it every few hours to see what was happening.

I finally cut my habit, but not my ties completely (I’m keeping my account, albeit on private at the moment) because I got a death threat after merely asking someone how they came about their (obviously false) conclusions about Critical Race Theory and another person was searching my comment history for some sort of fodder against me–which was a post about growing up in a mostly Jewish community, and I realized I was being targeted by an anti-Semite. I peek every now and then, but I’m not going to be a heavy user anymore.


Met my girlfriend on twitter.

I hardly ever look at Twitter, but I do read about a dozen Twitter users on Feedbin. It’s a much saner and more pleasant experience than the site itself.

Twitter is one of those services that I go onto just to make sure I had the “fnordius” moniker, but eventually stopped posting to pretty early. Reading was also off-putting at an early stage because the ads were so invasive, and I had other ways to keep up on people.

Come to think of it, that’s how most of my social media thingies go. Latest victim is Discord, I admit. Went on it, posted to some Discord servers on a regular basis, and then lost attention. Amazing that I stayed active on this BBS for so long, come to think of it.


I got a Twitter account way back in the day when it was being used as an organising tool during the Arab Spring uprisings. I wanted to see if it had more general potential in that regard. It quickly became clear that it was not where the platform was going, and I never used the account myself. It might not be there anymore.

Twitter has useful aspects if taken in small doses (or sometimes by being unrolled in Threadreader). However, the company’s feckless management, the user-unfriendly UI/UX, Dorsey’s privilege-blind freeze peach absolutism, and the platform’s eagerness to host Biff when he held the White House all make it a net societal negative.

“Slightly less toxic than Facebook” isn’t much of an endorsement.


Maybe, but searching The Atlantic’s index led me to this…


The thing that leapt out to me reading was the feeling, like with a lot of things, that removing oneself from Twitter is starting to feel like a privilege (at the risk of further overburdening diluting the term.) Here is a person who can easily have her better-organized thoughts published in an Atlantic think-piece, and probably could publish a book if the spirit struck. Most voices have no such outlet for their frustrations, for information, for help, not to mention how many go-fund-me’s for top surgery circulate on Twitter due to the nightmare of healthcare in the US.

The author focuses on the way Twitter has shaped itself deliberately to become addictive personally, but doesn’t really address the ways that Twitter has inserted itself structurally into our economics and social fabric. Writing, or any kind of creative work, or even journalism now makes stepping into Twitter and struggling against algorithm change, harassment, attention overload something necessary for surviving. This change of course disproportionately affects people still building themselves, not as much a 60-something near-retiree with a fully established network and career to fall back on.

Like driving cars, Twitter is quickly becoming something that we choose to do or not to do, but is something that we are collectively going to have to shape, or find an alternative for if we find is consuming us.


I never joined Twitter for the same reason I never played WoW back in the day, even though I really wanted to. I could just see that if I started it would take over my life. I didn’t realise the same thing when I joined Reddit, leading to having to go cold turkey several years ago because the toxicity and the endless stream of content was just too much