Brent Simmons, on leaving Twitter:
“Twitter was always a 51-49 thing for me — barely worth it. The company has not dealt with harassment.”
“It has treated its third-party developers shabbily.”
“And, at best, it was just quips and outrages — a diet of candy.”
This is where I start to struggle. Because my feed isn’t just quips and outrages. It contains both, of course, but it’s also full of a hell of a lot of other things.
It’s full of people suggesting I read articles I never would have seen otherwise. It’s full of television archeology… and television history as it happens. It’s full of films I have to see, right now, straight away. It’s full of news on important preservation projects. And luckily for me, it’s full of some very lovely people indeed.
Perhaps more importantly? Twitter has made me a better person. I used to be the kind of person who said they weren’t really a feminist, but was for “equality for everybody”. I look back on that and absolutely fucking cringe. Well-meaning, not evil, but fundamentally missing the entire point. I had absolutely no idea the absolute fucking shit most women go through on a daily basis. But from listening on Twitter… well, I know more than I used to, put it like that.
The point is: what your timeline consists of is under your control.1 If you want more than quips and outrages in your timeline, unfollow the people who provide them, and follow people who post stuff you find interesting instead. This is the fundamental basic rule of using Twitter. Most of what I linked to above would bore the arse off most people. But that’s OK. So much of human life is on Twitter. Go find some of it.
“And then it was part of the system that helped elect a fascist President. This tipped it over for me: it’s no longer worth my participation. The shitheads can have it.”
Of course, it is part of the system which helped elect a fascist President. It also – despite the horrific abuse problems – helps gives a voice to those who need it, and a way for people to listen. It’s a personal judgement call as to whether it’s worth it. I think you can justify either position. Some days I have my doubts as to whether I want to stay, for many different reasons, and I’m in pretty much the most privileged position it’s possible to have.
But to condemn Twitter for containing “just quips and outrages” merely indicates you’re terrible at using the service. Follow interesting people.
Note I say “timeline”, rather than your notifications. In no way do I want to dismiss the terrible abuse problem on Twitter. ↩