The last post about Twitter

For all intents and purposes, I am quitting Twitter.

Longtime readers of my sites probably know that I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I love it in many ways. When I was coming to Japan for vacation, a retweet by William Gibson(!!!) helped me get tickets to a Muse concert. And when I decided to move to Japan, a helpful user on the site led a guiding hand, showing me which companies would fit my needs best.

A few months later, I had to block said user after he tweeted out some transphobic bullshit and lashed out at me for criticizing him for it.

Which leads me to what I don’t like about Twitter.

Twitter has devolved into a megaphone for hatred and ignorance. There are many, millions even, of great, amazing people who use the service on the regular. They share ideas, jokes and commentary on current events and social issues. They network, collaborate and create amazing things, all with the help of the social media platform.

And then everything they do is drowned out by Nazis, hate-mongers, racists, homophobes, sexists, transphobics, shitlords, and the President Of The United States. It has become basically impossible to engage in a meaningful discussion on the platform. It was always difficult to do so. The character limit and the inherit open nature of the platform both don’t exactly serve as a way to propagate meaningful discourse. But it’s just gotten so much worse lately. I guess that’s to be expected though. Everything has gotten so much worse lately. It feels like the world is flinging itself towards chaos. Everything is collapsing and imploding onto itself. And Twitter is there, delivering constant live updates of it all.

Even if it wasn’t for the never-ending spew of hateful bullshit that the service provides on the regular, the very nature of reality has made it difficult to use the site as of late. Five years ago I was using Twitter to see what my friends were up to and skim funny jokes by writers I follow. Now, Twitter is just a rage machine, feeding me a steady drip of horrible events and unimaginable terrors that are seemingly being unleashed unto the world, all in real time. As I write this, Trump has just announced his goal to literally destroy the world and ensure that I don’t get to enjoy my golden years, as they’ll be 2-4 degrees warmer than they should be in order to sustain a healthy human population on the planet.

I read an article about it. I read a few, actually, from a few different sources. I got my fill of the news. That’s all I need. What I do not need is an unending supply of hot takes on it, peppered in with screen captures by idiots who agree with him, which do nothing but increase my rage about the current situation and make me feel hopeless and sad.

I remember reading an article somewhere a few months ago, I forgot where. But the article was attacking the idea that humans can’t keep up with technology. The article suggested that this idea has A) been floating around since the dawn of the industrial revolution and B) always sounds sounds like ignorant Luddite bullshit. They offered all kinds of evidence to support their claims, and backed it up with countless theories and facts.

I feel as if the 2016 election proves them wrong. If nothing else, the 2016 election served as proof positive that humanity is ill-equipped to deal with a non-stop supply of “information.” It becomes impossible for the masses to sort out what’s real and what’s bullshit. And it serves as a means for everyone to dive deep into their own protective bubble and not examine the world around them.

In my case, it serves as a means for me to be constantly reminded of just how horrific and horrible the world is.

I have five minutes to kill, I check Twitter: oh, a car bomb just killed dozens of people. Cool, the President said something racist and his fanbase just collectively orgasmed in delight. Of course, someone I like said something kind of stupid and now is being attacked by legions of assholes. Ah, my favorite account about living in Tokyo was given to a rampant racist. What’s this? My complaint to Twitter support that David Duke is trying to launch an antisemitic attack against a Jewish writer was ignored despite the fact that it clearly violates Twitter’s Terms of Service? Of course it was.

I mean, that’s a lot for the human mind to try and process why waiting for a fucking cup of coffee. You might argue that humankind has the capability to keep up with technology. Go right ahead and do that. But this human sure as hell can’t.

And it’s not just that. In the past few months (especially since the election) I’ve seen an upswing in “threads” on Twitter. These multi-post rants and monologues sometimes continue for upwards of 40-50 tweets, where the person tells some story or shares some piece of information that they think is worthwhile. Why don’t they just write a fucking blog post? Why limit yourself to 140 characters at a time? Why sacrifice the readability and the versatility of a free-form platform and instead replace it with a microblog where you have to use unnatural grammar and sentence structure just to fit your thoughts into it?

Of course, I know the answer to this. It’s because people just don’t fucking read the article anymore. Go to the Washington Post’s twitter feed. Click on any tweet and see the replies. There, you’ll find countless idiots debating the merits of an article they have not read. Nitpicking over information they haven’t gone over. Asking questions the article addresses, often in the first few paragraphs. Twitter has conditioned us to take in information 140 characters at a time, and in as few sets of 140 characters as possible. Not only does this make our attention spans even more limited, but it also severs our ability to ingest nuance into the discourse.

I hate “both-sidesism,” the idea that both sides of every discussion or viewpoint be treated as a two-sided issue where each side is given an equal amount of discourse. I feel that this idea has killed the discussion on climate change. Every news organization somehow feels the need to promote the “skeptic” argument with equal time, even though it’s been widely debunked multiple times over.

But some issues are complex. Issues involving cultural appropriation are complex. Tax issues are complex. The role of capitalism in society is complex. They’re too complex to address in 140 characters, no matter how many sets of 140 characters you send out. But people keep trying, and in doing so they force themselves into a limited discourse that pushes multi-faceted debates and room for agreement aside. It creates a discussion that is polemic and further damages society as a whole.

I refuse to be a part of this. I can’t handle it anymore. Today’s news has already left me in a rather fragile mental state. I can’t imagine logging into Twitter to see what assholes like Steven Milloy (paid climate denier and professional child murderer) have to say about it. I don’t care. Conversely, I don’t need to see the opinions and views of the scientists who are no doubt telling us how catastrophic today’s news is. I already know that, and I already know they’re being ignored and mocked by a large portion of the population (who are using Twitter to spread their ignorance to the largest number of people possible).

So yeah, I’m pretty much done with Twitter. I say pretty much because I’m granting myself three exceptions:

  1. I will still answer any tweets sent my way about record stores, living in Tokyo, or any other friendly topics. I want to help people. And Twitter is the easiest way for me to do that.
  2. I will still post my art to Twitter. Not many people seem to like it or share it, but it makes me happy.
  3. Announcements of new and/or updated blog posts (like this one) will still be tweeted out. Because I understand that most people get their news from Twitter (even though they shouldn’t) and that this is the best way to reach them.

But that’s it. I just can’t handle it anymore. Although with any luck, by this time in 2020 we’ll all be looking back at this post and laughing about that thing everyone used to use called Twitter.

Because while Twitter has had an undeniable influence on the global community and is working to shape the world in frightening and unpredictable ways, I would like to finish off this post by once again reminding people that Twitter has no business plan.

Twitter has never made money.

Twitter will never make money.

So while it’s destroying the world, at least I can take solace in the fact that it’s destroying itself as well.

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