A Week Without Twitter

I’ve slowly been losing interest in Twitter. It has become a pool of hatred and bigotry, and I find it to be an unfulfilling experience. Even my best tweets ever have given me no more than a shot of dopamine that makes me feel good for a few minutes. But then what?

Last year was awesome for me, and in hindsight I realize that it was because I challenged a lot of my personal views and habits. As a result, I learned a lot about myself and broke out of my boundaries. So along those same lines, I’ve decided to challenge a lot of my habits again this year. One of those habits is my obsession with Twitter.

When I step back and ask myself why I use Twitter, I really can’t come up with a great reason. I don’t have a ton of followers. I use it to get news, but there are other places to get news that are far less time consuming. Sites like Twitter are designed to keep you engaged, not to save you time. A far more efficient way to get my news is through something like Feedly, which keeps everything organized by topic but without the distractions of Twitter. And I certainly do not feel educated or enlightened when I look back at my Twitter activity each day.

So, I’m going a week without Twitter for personal use. I still need to use Twitter for business use, because I have an account for Lernabit. But my personal usage of Twitter has come to an end. I’ll post here each day with updates.

Day 1

I removed Twitter from my phone.

I signed into Feedly to get my news. There was a story that caught my eye. I was stunned when the first thought that came to my mind, before I even clicked on the link, was, “Hey, this would get some likes on Twitter.” I think a common sign of an addiction is not realizing that you are addicted. I never realized how much of an addiction Twitter actually was for me.

Day 2

I clicked on a link that took me to twitter. Because I was still logged in to twitter, I noticed that I had some notifications. After a moment of hesitation, I clicked on the button to see what they were about. A few new followers (probably bots), a few likes, but they feel less important than they once did. Already, after just one day without Twitter, it is starting to sink in just how pointless it is.

Day 5

After almost a week without Twitter, I’ve realized something very surprising. I have found that I am more informed of news events than I was when I was getting my news from Twitter. I was surprised by this, because Twitter has become the go-to source of news for a lot of people to announce new events, stories, blog posts, and more.

After thinking about why I feel more informed, I realized that the reason is because Twitter is too fast. While it is true that most news is announced via Twitter these days, it is also true that the same news event is tweeted, retweeted, and multiplied thousands of times. But despite that, any single news event still gets buried very quickly. So to stay informed using Twitter requires you to check in as often as once per hour, which is not very productive.

Since giving up Twitter, I’ve started using Feedly to get my news. I check it just a few times per day, and I can easily work back to review any news I’ve missed. Good old fashioned RSS feeds are still more productive than Twitter.

The Importance Of Owning Your Own Platform

Today Medium announced that they will be laying off 50 people to refocus on their mission. That mission, they say, is to make publishing more accessible to everyone, and to allow the highest quality content to get noticed even if it comes from someone without many followers.

I can totally get behind that mission. But at the same time, this announcement demonstrates the importance of controlling your own platform and owning your content by actually publishing on your own website. Over the last year or so, some pretty big publishing outlets have migrated entirely over to publishing on Medium. Today’s announcement by Medium underscores why that is a bad idea.

Now, I won’t say that the sky is falling for Medium. As noted in the announcement, the last year has been the best for Medium so far as far as key metrics are concerned, and I see no reason to doubt that. Anecdotally, I have seen more people using it and I’ve noticed it appearing in search results more often. They will probably work out whatever problems they are having and move forward.

With that said, it does demonstrate the problem of relying on another platform. There was a time when the best publishing platform was Livejournal. Then there was Blogspot. And Tumblr. Now there is Medium. So while this is not the end for Medium, what happens when the next great publishing platform comes along? It is trivial for readers to leave and start reading somewhere else, but it is a much larger task for the publishers to migrate to the next great platform.

The solution is to maintain complete ownership of your content, on your own site, on your own domain name. Then use those publishing platforms to help promote your content. That’s the approach I am taking with my blog over on Lernabit. It works great, and I don’t worry about the next Medium coming along and ruining it.