So, I’ve realized that I have been complaining about Twitter a whole lot.
Sure, there are lots of interesting people, and sure that is how I have been keeping up with most of my friends, and sure, seeing the work of others is inspirational, and sure, it is good for self-promotion.
Sure, getting off Twitter for an extended period of time is akin to social suicide. (I have already deleted my Facebook account long ago.) And sure, there are less extreme ways to deal with it, such as self-control, moderation etc.
Sure, as an indie dev, Twitter is a very good outlet for communication, marketing, customer support, recruitment, interviews, and general awareness. And it’s a good place to ask questions and get a tailor-made response.
Plat de résistance
But I have spent way too much time wondering how to make that silly follower number go up, and I have grown more and more frustrated that “out the thousand that follows me, not one cares about this particular thing”, and I have too often censored my thoughts just so that it would fit into 140 chars.
I’ve also spent too much time getting involved - or trying to avoid - many, many controversies. Back when I was in Paris for dotRB, I talked with Evan Phoenix’s wife about women in tech, equality, what can men do about it, etc. - and that one evening was more constructive than the past 6 months on Twitter.
I’ve also spent too much time drunk tweeting, half crying for help, and half trying to see how many people I could make react. And then I’ve spent too much time deleting 40, 50 of these the day after, out of shame and fear that it would make the number go down.
I have spent too much time listening in on conversations between strangers, jumping on any and all occasion to show my knowledge (or rather, to “be helpful”). I have spent too much time judging people for their opinions when I didn’t even ask them for it in the first place.
I have spent too much time turning into a trained monkey, crafting perfect, socially optimal tweets to maximize my potential and reach new audiences. And today especially, Twitter adds insult to injury.
I have spent too much time regressing to the mean, not because others forced me to change, but because by the sheer amount of similar creations, I have been led to believe only one kind of game, one kind of music, one kind of painting is worthy.
I have spent too much time not spending enough time with people, not giving them the quality of discourse that they deserve, both online and offline.
When you mostly interact with someone on a crowded, signal-poor medium, you mostly interact with the tip of their icebergs. And I want to interact with whole icebergs, and sink, and swim, and feel the cold of the snow and the warmth of an igloo fire, because all of it is part of life.
So, I took measures. I have ‘retired’ my dozen of Twitter accounts (including my main one, @nddrylliog) - set their profile pictures and banners to all black, and left instructions in their bio.
I have blocked twitter.com, tweetdeck.twitter.com, reddit.com, hackerne.ws, news.ycombinator.com from my Chromium instances. It’s still very easy to circumvent, by using another session, another browser - but it’s not about cuffing myself, it’s about a reminder. It served a few times since this afternoon already.
Won’t I get bored? Yes, probably. I’m keeping YouTube and Twitch for entertainment, but they deliver content in much more reasonable quantities (e.g. bigger chunks, but less time spent because each chunk is satisfying. A tweet is almost always frustrating.)
And maybe getting bored isn’t the worst thing. Some say it leads to drugs, but so far it’s depression, overwork, and curiosity that led me to drugs. Boredom on the other hand has been the source of many achievements I once considered myself proud of.
After doing all that, I took out the trash. I washed the dishes. I cooked for my fiancée. And then I took the time to redesign my whole website. It was a good evening. Here’s to many more.
I have made friends on Twitter. I look forward to talking to them again by e-mail, by phone, or who knows, around a beer somewhere.
(My e-mail address is [email protected] - handle with care!)