I joined Twitter back in April of 2008. I don’t remember why I joined, but it became a fun little hangout and I enjoyed it. Seven to eight short years later things started to get polarized nationally, let alone on Twitter, and the Elon Musk happened. I was no longer enjoying being on Twitter, er, X.
Sidebar: if you’re not familiar with the timeline of Musk’s takeover of Twitter, feel free to read one here.
While I left both my personal and business Twitter accounts open, I haven’t been active on Twitter since June 2023, when I abandoned it for good. It’s difficult to pinpoint one significant reason that I left Twitter. I think it’s a mishmash of reasons and overall just feeling grossed out by it.
Since its inception, Twitter has been difficult to define. As a result, it was difficult for a lot of people to “get” Twitter—I think it still is. But for me, Twitter became three things over the years:
- A microblogging site—just share something interesting or reply to someone who tweeted something interesting and you might have an interesting online conversation with someone a million miles away.
- A networking site—I made some friends and acquaintances through Twitter, particularly in the web development and Portland soccer communities that my introverted self may not have gotten to know otherwise.
- A news site—it became a one-stop shop for the breaking news and even some rumors and gossip (hey #RCTID and #BAONPDX!).
So I can easily say that Twitter had value for me. “Had” being the operative word.
Banning all the things
I don’t have a full list of all the things Twitter banned, but banning prominent journalistsand banning links to other social media channels are two of them. The former is a complete contradiction of “free speech” that Musk had been touting before and after his purchase of Twitter. The latter just reeks of fear of competition and insecurity. But hey, you do you, Musky.
(Yes, I’m aware some of the bans were eventually reversed. That kind of indecision by a global brand is kinda weird, no?)
Elon Musk is a bully. Full stop. And bullies suck.
Call me an idealist, call me an SJW (as if that were an insult), call me woke, I really don’t give a shit. I do give a shit when it comes to people being free to live their lives openly and authentically without fear.
Oh God, the trolls
Letting Donald Trump and other morally questionable people back onto the platform was… a move.
Let me be clear: trolls have existed on Twitter pretty much since the beginning. I’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with many, but they’re out there. And while most are about as annoying as a fly buzzing around, since 2015 or 2016 some trolls have gone beyond that where they’re out to not just give people shit on a social media platform—they’re out to cause real harm via harassment, doxing, and death threats. Twitter does close to nothing at best and nothing at all at worst when it comes to these things. Although I haven’t experienced any of that (knock on wood), I certainly can’t support a platform that’s run by someone who just doesn’t care about this sort of thing.
Oh God, the disinformation
I consider myself relatively intelligent, but the disinformation has gotten out of hand to the point where I was constantly having to fact check shit everywhere, not just Twitter. Don’t get me wrong: fact checking is all fine and dandy and probably necessary now, but having to check every other tweet? No thanks.
Verification no longer means anything
Except that you have $8 to spare every month.
Seriously though, seeing a blue checkmark next to a particular Twitter account meant that that person was who they said they were. Now that isn’t necessarily true anymore. By allowing—forcing even—people to purchase verification it’s “encouraged impersonators and other bad actors by granting them blue check marks based on their willingness to pay rather than any kind of legitimacy.”
Too much negativity
Leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election, politics moved to the forefront of my timeline. That was fine for obvious reasons to anyone not living under a rock. I’ve paid attention to politics since before I could vote, so that in and of itself was fine by me. And then things heated up even more during and after the summer of 2020—George Floyd’s murder, the BLM movement, and much more.
Those topics and issues are important to me but it got to the point where every time I opened up Tweetbot it was a deluge of negativity and, seemingly, the apocalypse itself. Yes, staying informed is important, but so is one’s mental health. And yeah, it took its toll on me.
Adding it all up
Individually, many of the things I’ve listed don’t necessarily carry enough weight to get someone to ditch Twitter permanently. But for me, putting them all together did carry weight. Combine that with my desire to not live in a digital cesspool and not wanting to be part of the problem Twitter has and is and it became painfully obvious that I shouldn’t stay any longer.
To be fair, it took me a while to finally give up Twitter. That was largely due to all the lovely people I followed and most of which followed me back. And I’d be lying if FOMO didn’t play a part. I mean, Twitter was quite fun at times! But those times became more and more rare. Eventually it became apparent that it was time to leave. While I miss some of the people I would interact with on Twitter, I don’t miss Twitter.