Unlike Eira, who I totally get on this, I’m not quite yet ready to say goodbye to Twitter. It’s been a part of my life since 2007, in some account or another. I’ve actively engaged with libarch Twitter since 2010 (although even in 2007, I was somewhat involved). Now that I think about it, it’s almost a third of my life that I’ve used the platform and… perhaps as importantly, most of my post-college life.
I could say a lot about it — I wouldn’t be the crafter, the librarian, the activist (as much as I am one), and even the Christian I am today without what I’ve learned from friends through Twitter. I’ve grown in so many ways alongside the people I’ve met there. I’ve made and lost friends, I’ve made friendships which have moved more into other spheres—whether physical space or other modes of communication.
But, and this a personal post vs. a “this is what you should do” post… Twitter as I currently experience it causes me a lot of pain. Mostly emotionally. Our world is extraordinarily painful (and has been forever) and connected (more and more) and it’s far more than I’m able to deal with.
And there’s a couple things happening. Twitter is shoving more and more and more into timelines. Timelines are a lie, because everything is out-of-order, Likes show up more than RTs and you can’t turn them off, and #jackiscomplicit in knowing that he wants a catastrophically, racist man with extraordinary power using his service despite massive evidence of harm it causes.
There’s also the scale of reaction — I have gotten to a point where I can handle knowing that the man controlling our world-ending and ill-managed nuclear arsenal is threatening to use it. That doesn’t scare me for me (I’ve done the math and Central PA is one of the places I feel safest in the world from “big” threats that aren’t angry white men with guns), but it’s almost too much to bear for some people I love. My sister-in-law is South Korean, so please understand that I’m talking not about my own fears for myself but the fear that she may lose her entire family, the places she knew, her friends in a counter-strike. That is the greatest horror which I sit with.
What I can’t handle is people responding to it over and over. I become emotionally paralyzed. And Twitter’s ways of showing likes, random popular tweets, etc., mean that I just cannot handle it at a level I can manage. There’s other things, but that’s one of the big ones.
But, as I said above … this year it’ll be 11 years of my life using it.
And, while I really like Mastodon and have been using it more… so many of the people I care about aren’t using it, or not much. *coughs* *looks at a few friends* *points out that if you all came over we could leave the less awesome folks behind*
So. I’m trying to find a way to manage what works for me. I’ve been working for a while on clearing up my phone’s apps and this is kind of like doing that. On my phone, I’m putting stuff I don’t want to be using regularly (or just don’t use regularly and leave lying around like socks—don’t look under my bed) into folders. I’m intentionally leaving a few things like Instagram, my Mastodon app, and Tweetbot out of that.
Tweetbot’s useful because it lets me apply all kinds of filters and thanks to the lifesaving @acdha for pointing out those filters apply to lists. My big filter? No RTs!! I still see quote RTs if you have something to add, though.
Now everyone cross fingers I can get back to it because I’m at 846 following and thus have about 700 more to go. x_x
Next, like the folders, I’m breaking everyone out into lists. Everyone I follow right now is going on a list called TIMELINE. I’ve got them for libarch/history, for libtech/tech (all the libtech folks go on both that and libarch), shorter lists such as just catalogers/metadatists/systems libs, other lists for personal friends, lists for library friends…people I follow who tweet about religion or activism or labor all get sorted out by why I followed them. I followed about 1200 people when I started and I’m writing this while Twitter is rate-limiting me from doing more listing.
It feels a lot like mourning, which is funny because I don’t plan to go away entirely. Nor am I planning to push these people out of my life. It’s just… when I use lists I can make my twitter experience:
- Filtered for RTs
- Likeless (because of using Tweetbot)
- Less overwhelming (1200 folks will still be in timeline but I might spend more time in libtech or catalogers, who knows)
I don’t know how it’s going to work. My plan is to massively unfollow all but maybe a hundred or couple hundred people. Some because they’re locked. Some because I’m… used to having some kind of timeline I guess? I’m also able to turn off their RTs because I follow them… I hope folks I unfollow won’t worry much about why I left others…I’m up to at least 5 reasons for it now (sometimes it’s because we talk a bit via DM and I don’t want to lose that).
Like any kind of change or loss, it’s hard. I’m grieving. Doing things like unfollowing Bethany Nowviskie (who’s on 3 lists now!) have been far more painful than I would have imagined. Perhaps it’s because it used to mean loss. Now, though, I think it means hope. Hope maybe I can stick around. I’ve come close at points to giving this up. I do want to federate myself between services. I want to rethink how I engage. I want to turn things I might otherwise thread into blog posts more. I want to Signal friends more. I’ve got an address book so I can stop storing people’s addresses in 3 or 4 locations (DMs, texts, contacts, emails).
We’ll see. This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution. It’s an iteration. I may refollow all the folks on Timeline. I may scale way back on Twitter. I may follow some people and unfollow others as I figure out how to make it work for me. Who knows. But I’ll see y’all around all over.