Breaking the (Twitter) habit
In a long-overdue move, I deleted Twitter from my phone. Here's why.
Happy early Halloween, folks.
A transcript, for those who can’t watch the clip right now:
MAC: There’s no way a mouse could kill a scorpion.
DENNIS: Dude, a mouse could kill-
FRANK: A rat could kill a scorpion!
DENNIS: No sh*t, Frank, but we’re not talking about about a rat. We’re talking about a little mouse!
DEE: If we were talking about a rat, it would still lose-
DENNIS: A little mouse fighting a scorpion! And that is final!
CHARLIE: [screaming] SHUT UP! Shut up! Oh, my god! I don’t care! All we’re doing is arguing about the most stupid sh*t! A rat! A scorpion! I don’t care, man! When did this start happening!? When did we start arguing all the time and fighting!? This isn’t like us! Look, we’re working our asses off in this bar, and we’re getting nothing to show for it… and so we’re starting to snip and pick at each other. And it’s bullsh*t, man. ‘Cause guess what? It’s a beautiful day outside! Okay?
We need to change things up. Let’s go outside. Let’s get some fresh air. Let’s run around a little bit. You know? Let’s just do something different.
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For the first time in… I don’t know, a decade(?), I deleted Twitter from my phone.
I’ve tried to do various things to cut back on my Twitter usage over the years. I’ve tried to force myself to take breaks, I’ve installed an app on my phone that makes it a complete and total pain in the butt to open Twitter, I’ve turned off push notifications, and I’ve even tried switching my phone to grayscale so the bright colors don’t get my attention so easily. None of it worked. I was (and remain) hopelessly addicted to Twitter.
What’s worse: Twitter has gotten just… horrible lately, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll get better. Back in April, when Twitter’s Board of Directors accepted Elon Musk’s offer to buy the company for $44 billion, many of Musk’s supporters rushed to celebrate by tweeting anti-trans slurs and declarations that Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health & Human Services Rachel Levine and 2022 NCAA champion in the women’s 500-yard freestyle Lia Thomas were “men.”
At the time, I wrote that people even knowing the names of Levine and Thomas (let’s be real, Assistant Secretary of Health and individual NCAA champions are not usually household names) was a sign of a sick obsession with trans people and a perfect example of people tying the concept of “free speech” (which is very good! I agree!) specifically to “freedom to mindlessly berate and harass trans people without pushback.” Never mind that there actually are serious attacks on free speech happening right now. As I’m writing this, I just saw a tweet that the University of Florida is banning students from participating in indoor protests! Not really great when a state school is cracking down on speech it doesn’t like… in a state that has attacked the speech rights of teachers, government employees, baseball teams, cruise lines, entertainment companies, and has even gone so far as to block professors from testifying in court — but sure, tell me more about how Ron DeSantis loves “freedom!”
The truth is that none of the people claiming that they love free speech whose first impulse is to scream “These are men!!!” at trans women like a small army of digital Picards yelling “There… are… four… lights!” actually care about free speech. If they did, they’d be speaking out against the anti-speech agenda of DeSantis (see above) and other state-sponsored censors on the right. No, what they want is tightly-restricted speech that they agree with. But I digress. My point here is that the people who spend their days whining about “free speech” and very selectively railing against “cancel culture” (including Musk, himself, who is an extraordinarily litigious man) spend their days making Twitter into their own personal cesspool while demanding praise for their fake love of “free speech.”
For instance, look at how… sad this is. Charlie Kirk, right-wing nincompoop that he is, making clear that he’s looking forward to Musk’s deal closing so he can resume baselessly calling people pedophiles. Side note: Kirk’s organization, Turning Point USA, employed a man who was recently sentenced to 5.5 years in prison for being a part of a child p*rn ring. But sure, dude, you go ahead and keep projecting.
It takes up time in my day. It makes me feel like garbage about myself (it’s not a lot of fun to get constantly flooded with messages telling you that you’re a “man,” that you should be murdered, that you should be purged from society, etc.). It makes me sad. It makes me angry. And yet, I can’t seem to quit it totally.
Someone is wrong on the internet.
Part of my struggle with Twitter has to do with my own personality. I’m just… not very good at letting things slide off my back. The first time I heard the question “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” my initial thought was, “That’s dumb. Whether I’m happy has nothing to do with whether I’m right, and vice versa.” As years have passed, I think I’m starting to understand it, at least a little bit. I’m still absolutely terrible about needing to be right (when I truly believe I’m right), but I guess it’s helpful to at least understand the problem.
It reminds me of a 2008 XKCD comic called “Duty Calls.” You’ve probably seen it before. There’s a character sitting at a desk, in frame; there’s a second person out of frame. “Are you coming to bed?” asks the out-of-frame voice. “I can’t. This is important,” replies the character at a desk. “What?” asks the first person. “Someone is wrong on the internet,” responds the desk character, clacking away at their keyboard.
When you hover over the image on XKCD’s site, you get the text, “What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they’ll keep being wrong!”
We all know that the person sitting at the computer in that comic is supposed to be a fool for thinking they could correct the entire internet. That’s not to say that this fool is bad or incorrect or anything like that. It’s just that they’re, well, a fool.
I’ve been that fool. I’ve tried not to be that fool, but, well, here I am. And that’s why I’ve made a few changes to how I plan to use Twitter, especially as Musk takes over (which will embolden his weird little fanbase of like-minded bigots to be their worst selves, even if he doesn’t change anything).
So here’s the plan:
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