Goodbye Twitter – This time I mean it.
by Jonathon Kneeland
Twitter is a virus once it works its way into the brain. I know this because it creeps into my mind when I'm meditating, running, or focusing on work. It's also a terrible time thief. I have several rewarding but difficult hobbies, all of which suffer as a result of my time on Twitter. Twitter is the opposite of those hobbies – easy and unrewarding. And I don't know if you've ever looked at your life on a tape measure, but you might try it. The average life expectancy in Canada is 82 years. I'm on the depressing half of the tape and have to start to think about where best to invest my time, as it's disappearing quickly.
The platform is very negative, bad for your eyes, ruins your posture if you have the app, and diminishes your attention span. It's just not good for you. Mostly, Twitter consists of complaining and petty squabbles. Users operate in tribes and behave in ways that they never would in person. Nuance is largely absent and not much though is put in before attacking someone from the other tribe. Sometimes this can be enjoyable if you're in a combative mood and looking for a scrap. The problem is, if you're in a period in your day when you have time for this, you should be either doing something else or giving your mind a rest.
Besides being a virus, Twitter also acts as a digital readout, constantly displaying the frequent short circuits in the user's brain. If you were a brain technician a hundred years from now, you might be able to simply download the previous two years of your patient's tweets, analyze them, and then make your adjustments. Sometimes, I tweet when I've been drinking and I suspect I'm not the only one. Occasionally, I'll get up early and delete these tweets. And then there's the very creepy feeling that I used to get with Facebook – long ago deleted – that the ego is sneaking in and contaminating your thoughts for the purpose of presenting an image to the world. It's dishonest and it makes me cringe. It might not always be deliberate, but it's there and has to affect everyone to some degree. Whatever that part of us is, it's not helpful to honest and meaningful conversation. This part of us thrives on Twitter. What does that say about the platform?
I don't think Twitter is good for our society or our public discourse. Often, I find the behaviour of both the left and the right on twitter to be appalling. I contribute to this every day. Some of the arguments I have with people I likely wouldn't have if I met them in person. I definitely wouldn't say to them the things I say on twitter. I love political discussion and debates, but I think they are best had in person.
Twitter has been positive in some respects. For example, I've learned that PhDs are completely meaningless. If you doubt me, find a bunch on Twitter and follow them for a while. You're going to very quickly find out that PhD holders are lowly primates, just like you. The second they're out of their area of expertise they're like an ancient hunter gatherer who has suddenly been dumped into the middle of a modern city. The other thing I’ve learned is that I don't dislike feminists like I thought I did. I have many feminist followers and I follow them all back. It turns out that we're strong natural allies in combating trans extremism. I'm an atheist and skeptic – the real kind and not the bullshit kind who buys and then parrots the idea that a 6'4" 230 lb male athlete is a "woman." If you belong to some atheist, humanist, or skeptic club and they claim to believe that it's okay for men to compete in women's sports or that men should be allowed in women's shelters, then you're in a religious organization and you have no business calling yourself anything other than a devout and gullible follower of their religion. By the way, if you don't buy that harebrained theory, then technically, you're not even allowed on Twitter. If they find out you don't believe they'll suspend your account.
Feminists have definitely been the most interesting part of my Twitter experience. It's been interesting because I thought that I hated feminists. It turns out that I don't. I've had hundreds of conversations with feminists, some radical, and I have to confess that they've completely brought me around – I don't think I had a single negative interaction. Twitter has been useful in this regard. So, if you're a male atheist or skeptic, try following some feminists and put some effort into understanding what they're saying. It'll expand your world a bit. It left me feeling as though the entire atheist/skeptic movement had been pathetic in the way that it caved to some progressive ideologies without asking any questions, even though these ideologies were clearly religious in nature. The feminists were left to fend for themselves and I think we owe it to them to help do some of the lifting now that we've finally noticed what they've been saying all along. It might be too little too late, but it'll help them out a bit and maybe ease your conscience and leave you feeling a little less like a fool.
Lastly, Twitter is not reality. It makes the world look like an awful place. When I head out into the world, it's nothing like Twitter. People, for the most part, are friendly and decent, and I'm sure that some of these friendly and decent people have political opinions in complete opposition to mine. It’s very obvious that people get along much better when they’re not on the platform.
I've been thinking for quite some time now of getting off Twitter. The final push came when a friend challenged me to run the West Coast Trail next summer. This is just outside my current capability and I'll start working towards it right away. Also, before I die, I want to learn most of Mark Knopfler's songs on the guitar. I also want to read and understand everything that Orwell, Russell, Mencken, and Nabokov wrote. I'm going to keep writing, and hopefully others will visit my website now and then and post my articles on Twitter, as I won't be able to do it.
Anyone who wants to contact me is welcome to do so through my website.
Goodbye Twitter. I won't be back. I think your platform is poison.