A reflection on Twitter

And more accurately, how I’ve begun to use it.

I decided to basically take the month of August off of Twitter. It was partly an experiment– can I keep up with current news and important opinions without it– and partly a therapy. Twitter had become a sort of addiction, constantly checking to see if there were any important updates (spoiler: there weren’t), and I wanted to know whether the dopamine rushes were worth the hysteria.

During the first day, I found myself typing “twitter” into the web browser (I don’t use 3rd party apps) and hitting escape so many times that I installed a firefox plugin called Redirector, catching any instance involving “twitter.com” and pointing it to a locally hosted page that says, succinctly, “no twitter!” It was sad how many times I saw that in the first couple days.

About halfway through the month, I began to cozy up to direct messages, partly because I had some things to follow up on. I wound up opening twitter in a separate web browser, partly so that I’d have to break routine a bit to visit the site. Since I was doing that, I considered that using twitter as a broadcast was not such a bad thing and posted an update about my upcoming Harvard talk. After a few more days, I noticed some @replies and decided to go ahead and check that. In doing these things, I began to develop a protocol.

And that’s where I feel this experiment has lead me. While using twitter in its native form– constantly checking– I suspected it was emotionally damaging as well as time-wasting. However, if I use twitter to send direct messages, broadcast various thoughts, and use the @reply system to engage in discussion, it keeps the channel open while regaining quite a lot of control over it.

I’ll probably continue to abide by this protocol until I find a better way. For now, I’m pretty satisfied.

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