I’ve been addicted to Twitter for nearly 16 years. I’ve been very happy about that addiction and have no regrets. It never interfered with my work (when I was working) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it in retirement.
I rarely (as in almost never) post/tweet (at least not in the last 10+ years, I purely consume.
I never enjoyed the web version of Twitter, as it came in reverse chronological order. I don’t want to see tweets from people I know, out of order (yes, I get that “breaking news” is best consumed when freshest). The app was never as good as the numerous third party apps that were available on Android.
I’ve switched apps a number of times, usually due to Twitter changing some policy and killing a particular app that I loved. For the past few years, the app that I was using was Flamingo and I was very happy with it. I saw zero ads (promoted tweets) and only saw tweets from people I directly followed, or things they retweeted. I could mute people or topics that I wasn’t interested in (even if for a set amount of time, like everyone tweeting millions of similar tweets from a new product announcement). I actually never did that, but I could have.
That always made me wonder about people who were angry at tweets (and more importantly at the people who tweeted those things). Did they not know that they could block people? Mute people or topics? Not follow them to begin with? Turn off retweets of people they wanted to follow, but not the people that they followed? It always felt like they wanted to be outraged (and of course, to let the world know how outraged they were!).
I just merrily went along only reading tweets from people I was either friends with, or had an interest in what they were saying. I read tweets from people who were on the extremes of both political ideologies, so that I could understand how a particular issue was being framed by each (extreme) side. That helped me form my own opinions without being overly influenced by a specific echo chamber. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think that I wasn’t (and am not) influenced (in many ways that I may not be consciously aware of), but still, I tried hard to understand both sides.
All of the above applied to the pre-Elon Twitter days.
When Elon took over, the only thing that changed in my feed was people claiming that they were going to leave Twitter. Those people proclaimed that frequently, on Twitter, and very few actually left (where else would they be able to rage against Twitter as effectively as on Twitter?).
The above statement isn’t entirely true. The other thing that changed is that quite a number of people who were banned on Twitter in the pre-Elon days were eventually let back on. I didn’t follow anyone who mysteriously showed back up in my feed, but I did follow people who started retweeting people who had been banned. To me, it was quite refreshing to see some of those tweets again, and very easy to ignore the ones that I really hadn’t missed.
Did I think that Elon was a breath of fresh air? Not particularly, since nothing really changed dramatically for me. Did I think that he was moving fast and breaking things? Yes, and I didn’t think it was quite the sh*t show that most people did. He tried things (many of them stupid), and reversed himself quickly if he realized that, or it was simply broken, or his ego was hurt. OK, failing fast is a good way to get to a better place more quickly than infinite planning and never executing…
So, why does the subject line say “Twitter Addiction Broken” then?
On January 12th, 2023, many (most?) third party Android clients stopped working. As in zero updates, and trying to refresh your feed instantly failed (no “timeouts”, the API was simply failing).
Did that annoy me? Sure! Did it drive me to install the official Twitter app? Not a chance. Did it drive me to the web to read the tweets? Nope. I decided to wait a few days, assuming he’d reverse the decision once the outcry grew loud enough.
After not seeing a single tweet in five days, I decided to see what I missed by going to the web site. It took me quite a while to scroll through what I missed (in the wrong order…) having to also see an insane number of promoted tweets. I have not visited the site since.
I’m not mad at Elon. I’m not mad at Twitter. It’s simply not enjoyable (for me!) to consume the information that I used to enjoy (via well-designed third party apps!). I’m not quitting Twitter in protest, I’m simply not using it. I thought I would miss it more, but I don’t.
I will happily return if/when my previous way of experiencing Twitter is returned (in full). Until then, I’ll be somewhat less informed, and (it turns out) not caring all that much about the change (hey look, I have a bit more time to blog now…).
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