This morning, after a strong coffee and a good ten minutes staring into space, I switched on my phone to check emails and, somewhat unusually for me, I decided to have a look on Twitter.
To my delight, I saw “Terry Pratchett” trending.
This is easily my favourite author, a man I grew up reading, and who has informed much of my worldview. Since Christmas, I have re-read no less than six of his Discworld books with my son. My mind immediately leapt to a new movie adaptation project, or perhaps some event honouring his work.
I was more than a little depressed to find that he was trending because groups of people were bitterly arguing over whether he would have agreed with them.
I’m not going to elaborate on what those views are, I’m not going to share my thoughts on the topic, and I’m certainly not going to weigh in on what I believe Sir Terry Pratchett might have thought had he still been alive. The point is, this is what happens to people on Twitter. Nothing is off-limits.
Some of my Twitter followers may have seen me flapping in disbelief at the sheer vitriol being thrown around during the European Championships, with very little of it to do with any actual football. And what football was discussed was merely being used as a launching off point for whatever agenda was being pushed.
Twitter has made it impossible to keep anything sacred. Even people who decide to keep their opinions close to their chest can find themselves being harassed for not voicing their opinion, and apparently, even deceased authors aren’t immune from being used as pawns in this online warring.
It’s Not Worth It
My “public persona” pretty much consists of making videos on YouTube and writing on Medium. I only use Instagram to post video updates, I use Facebook to interact with family members, and I consider myself too old to even look at TikTok, let alone make content for it.
Twitter is the only social media platform I actively use that isn’t intrinsically linked to what I do, and I’m increasingly finding it hard to avoid the depressing elements that fester there. It seems that no amount of muting topics, trends, and people will stop this stuff from finding a way into my timeline. Then again, if I have to also mute the things I’m interested in to avoid this kind of toxicity, what’s the point?
Whether it’s your favourite author, a movie franchise, a sports team… even literal ancient history… there will be somebody somewhere trying to twist it to their own ends so they can attempt to beat somebody else over the head with it. And not one of those people seems to want to acknowledge how unsuitable Twitter is for any kind of complex discussion.
I can honestly say that of all the depressing things I see online, Twitter is responsible for the vast majority of them.
Cutting My Losses
At the time of writing, I have a little over 8,000 subscribers on YouTube, in contrast to the 150 or so followers I have on Twitter. In other words, there is no pressing need for me to stay on the platform. Clearly, I’m not driving any new viewers to my YouTube channel from there.
As for the community I’ve tried to limit my Twitter feeds to — a collection of talented artists and game developers who largely tweet about their projects — I have much more fruitful interactions with them in places like Discord and itch.io anyway.
So, I’m ditching Twitter. I won’t be closing the account because I don’t want anyone else using my handle — not that I think anybody would care enough to impersonate me, but you never know. New video updates and possibly Medium posts will be tweeted about (probably automated) but I have no interest in using the site beyond that.
And, in all honesty, I think society as a whole would be better off if Twitter vanished altogether.