My First Monday Without Twitter

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

Related Post Roulette

21 Responses

  1. Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    1) I loathe all forms of social media. “Roland is having an ok day and drinking a coke zero”. WTF cares? Yes, it does have some value, but twitter? God, it’s a nest of folks who think Social Media is real life. It CONSUMES people’s lives. I’ll mention again, a former GF and I were on and safari in Zambia and she’s posting on Facebook all the pics each day. The first and last thing she did every day and night was post and check the responses when she woke up. Spend time with me drinking coffee watching the zebra? No. Checking FB. Lying in bed watching the sun come up over the Okavango delta? No, checking FB. “Snuggling” in bed before breakfast? No, gotta check the responses. It’s pure ego gratification. I actually think if you rendered all data plans inoperative on all smart phones, half the US would go into withdrawal just like addicts do when they go cold turkey. Now, if I had a few billion to throw around, I’d have purchased twitter and done exactly that. TURN IT OFF. The wails of despair would be joy to my ears.Report

  2. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, one thing that dramatically improved my twitter experience was following some exceptionally deliberately apolitical feeds.

    Watch some 1980’s professional wrestling promos. Read about some of the mistakes made in 1980’s version of Spider-Man. I have a dear friend who follows the World Cup. Twitter allows me to quickly and easily keep up with the minutia of what each game means… anybody can google “Saudi Arabia vs. Argentina”, but if you want to fully apprehend how *NUTS* it was that Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia, you’re going to need to spend more time on google than on twitter.

    That said, there has been a lot of “why haven’t you talked about waffles?” being tweeted to the various accounts out there devoted to steak sandwiches, 1950’s cars, and golf accounts out there and it is irritating as heck to have your favorite Amish Furniture account suddenly having to devote three or four tweets a day to talking about waffles.

    So I completely understand how someone who was sick of waffles might not find Twitter to be a particularly welcoming place anymore. I mean. I understand. Absolutely.

    But I found that it was nice to have a handful of corners where all I was going to see was stuff about Jack Kirby, or Hubble pictures, or mechanical keyboards.Report

  3. Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    I probably shouldn’t comment on an article I didn’t finish, so apologies if I missed something, but you really don’t come off well in this. You seem offended that someone on Twitter might not agree with you. Not even violating your bubble, but just existing outside it.

    I personally hate Twitter, so I’d consider it a net gain if Musk destroys it. But there are no signs of it so far. When you can lose half your employees and keep things running – and also, every outsider says that your company needs to shed people, and everyone else in your industry is shedding people – that’s a sign you’re doing something right. Twitter is a cesspool of the worst people who aren’t on the right, and now Musk is turning it into a cesspool of the worst people across the spectrum. In principle I guess that counts as an improvement, but in practice it’s still horrible. It strikes me as bizarre that that would motivate someone to quit the site, much less quit their job.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      I do wish you’d take the time to read the balance of the article, as I attempt to proffer other reasons than these , and using the example of the ongoing drumbeat of the Hunter Biden “laptop” try to nuance the experience of encountering different thought-and-fact bubbles.

      If after reading everything i had to say, you still think I’m being … what, arrogant? close-minded? … then so be it. I’ll probably get called worse in real life in the near future.

      Edit to add: some really awful folks from the right have been on Twitter for a long time. (Some quite nice folks too. Niceness and orientation of opinion are orthogonal axes.)Report

      • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m sorry, but it still reads to me like you don’t like things like Fox News and you do like things like NPR, and you’re quitting a forum because it might start to include more things like Fox News.

        On another thread, we were talking about the “Trump was going to sell nuclear secrets” nonsense that sprung up on the left. They’re backing away from it now. As far as I can tell, it was never based on anything, and no reasonable person can claim to have believed it. I’m sure it thrived on Twitter. The Hunter Biden laptop story probably raced around the back waters of Twitter, but when the NY Post initially printed it, they were booted off Twitter. Also of note: the laptop story was true, and it could have affected an election.

        What would make you stand by an institution that suppressed that story? What would make you quit it for allowing the worst righties back on, when you claim that the site already had some of the worst righties? I guess if you could give me some indication that your two-word policy isn’t “no Trumpists” I could go along with it, but I think you’re demonstrating the danger in one person pursuing your claimed two-word policy.

        And I don’t buy the “sucking the air out of the room” idea. How many billion tweets are there per day? Are you saying that there will be no baby goat channels on Twitter that are Trump-free?Report

        • Greg In Ak in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          Fox and conservatives have always been on twitter. They never left nor were ever tossed off. If you were on politics twitter you saw a billion conservative view points. I don’t even search them out and i see C view points from trad cath to big business R’s. The worst righties are trolls who aim to drag everything down into the sewer and seem to revel in being hurtful.

          There has always been smart twitter and dumb nasty twitter. More dumb nasty trashy now.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Greg In Ak
            Ignored
            says:

            That’s always been my impression as well, although by all accounts it’s easier to get kicked off Twitter if you’re on the right. But our impressions don’t square with Burt’s assessment. Apparently Trump and rumors of Trump are enough to ruin the otherwise pleasant environment of Twitter.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          Well, thank you for giving the whole article a chance.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
            Ignored
            says:

            I’ll admit that I hate reading articles broken up by tweets. They’re like the bratty 8-year-old at the restaurant. I understand that they were part of the article in a different way than the usual, but I just find the format so grinding, and that’s not a good enough reason to not finish an article if I’m going to comment on it.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to Pinky
              Ignored
              says:

              And things have gotten much worse since Twitter changed the way they handled embedded tweets. Now they’re trickled out at no more than one every 8-10 seconds. A page that has multiple embedded tweets is constantly jumping around as the page layout has to be changed each time another tweet loads. Over at Balloon Juice, things got bad enough that John Cole insisted front page writers include no more than a single tweet in the part of the post that shows on the front page.

              I’ve complained here about overuse in comment sections causing similar problems.Report

  4. Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Twitter is a silly place.

    I block a lot of politicians because they say dumb things, but mostly because what people say about their dumb things is even dumber. Blocking and Word Muting works pretty well … have to be liberal in using the word block – people can’t spell, either.

    But yeah, once you remove the absurd politics … twitter is mostly a silly place.

    Good idea, though, to walk away from lots of digital fakery… think of it as a fast… you’ll come back wiser and more grounded.Report

  5. Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    I think you’re right that Twitter became a much darker place when Trump became one of its main characters, and especially after the 2016 election, for a variety of reasons (the emboldening of the far right, bickering among liberals of different stripes over how the election was lost, the endless action and reaction of the culture war, etc.), and while I think some of this was brewing before and independent of Trump’s ascendancy (and to some extent helped to make that rise possible), it’s undeniable that Trump, as a poster and as a president, had a deleterious effect on The Discourse.

    That said, I still think of Twitter as an extremely valuable place, and that hasn’t changed because one extremely wealthy dude took over from another extremely wealthy dude, and won’t change if Trump starts posting a lot again (he hasn’t posted yet), or even if he somehow wins the 2024 election. Twitter has features that make it uniquely suited to facilitating the forming of communities of marginalized groups, and allowing people who aren’t members of those groups to eavesdrop and even participate in those communities’ conversations. I can’t imagine leaving it until it stops being that.Report

  6. InMD
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m not on Twitter and never will be, though occasionally I will go incognito to look at the feeds of various writers I follow to see if anyone has shared anything that might interest me. Generally though I think the future of Twitter will be determined by two pretty mundane things. Can it build a site that’s (i) fun enough to use that lots of people continue to go that (ii) it can at least sustain itself financially? If yes it lives, if no it dies, like every other tech business.

    I do get the sense that both politicians and media types have developed an unhealthy obsession with it, and at times also lost perspective on reality based on the distortions inherent to social media, as it exists today. I do think it would be good for people to get some healthy distance from it. I got rid of Facebook for Lent a few years ago. I’m back on mainly because friends from college still use it for organizing social events. If all it took was 40 days away to sever the interest it couldn’t have been that great to begin with.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      One of the points I saw earlier talking about the difference between Twitter and, say, Mastodon was that Mastodon was specifically intended to create a space for a community while Twitter was just an anarchistic free-for-all where, by default, anybody could say something that could be heard by anybody else.

      And that will always be more engaging* than a space intended to be for the ingroup.

      *”engaging” does not imply “good”Report

      • Chris in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        A social media service that groups people into communities is just a message board.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          Well, I think that one of the things that Mastodon does is allows mini-twitters. Join up to the journa.host Mastadon and enjoy a well-moderated twitter intended to cater to journalists!

          And then the problem comes with enthusiastic (and reversed!) moderation. This here was a funny story:

          This particular story has a happy ending but back during the heady days of 2018, Wil Wheaton tells the story about getting run off of Mastodon. I don’t think that the problem he describes has gotten better.

          And I think that Mastodon is far from being alone in how the pendulum swung away from whatever Twitter is doing and, therefore, appealing the most to the people who want a well-moderated space where false positives are seen as preferable to false negatives.

          And I think that that is a recipe for fizzling. But, hey. I’m old. Maybe the young people have figured this stuff out this time.Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            I mean… isn’t that what all of the ado with Twitter is about? Some people want a well moderated site, some people want anarchy, and some people want a site where the views they don’t like are moderated and the ones they do are free to be as unhinged as they want?Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Not on twitter, but even innocent outsiders get pulled into twitter drama. I listened to Robert Wright interview Harry McCracken on the ins and outs of Mastodon, and it seemed that many of structural differences were created with the expressed intent not to be twitter. I think Bob was disappointed in a lot of the particulars.

            The one point that stood out to me was that its pretty common, perhaps more common than not, to ban politics on a given server/instance. A lot of people hate politics on twitter and migrated to strictly politics-free zones in Mastodon. Others presumably more hyper-politicized migrated away from twitter with their own agenda. The latest round of refugees probably fit comfortably within neither poles.Report

  7. Greg In Ak
    Ignored
    says:

    Ah well, i’m hoping the good twitter will survive but who knows. The experience has gotten worse with musky seeming to want it trashy and trolly. Twiiter does have some special attributes which make it, for me, worth sticking with. Social media is people and people are worth connecting and joking with. If it’s not twitter then i hope one of the new places can recreate fun convo’s with a giant mix of interesting and funny people.

    We have a firehose of info and people sprayed all over us. Controlling that hose , through cutting back on social media, seems like a good thing at times. It would be funny if blogs became a big thing again if twitter fades with no good replacement. It is fun to speak in more then 280 characters.Report

  8. Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I was initially interested in Twitter because the publishing industry pressures writers to have a social media presence as a sort of newfangled professional obligation. So, you get a lot of writers there. The problem is most writers are used to writing as thinking aloud and working through questions in their head. But social media is more like broadcasting. So, you have a lot of older writers who post things that social media natives don’t understand at all. It’s a fascinating dynamic to watch. But, from a writing standpoint, I’m not sure it gets the work done.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.