Never Tweet

Over the course of a decade, I allowed Twitter to become my primary means of socialization. The vast majority of my public writing manifested as tweets. When I finally decided I was unhappy with the status quo, I created this digital garden as an alternative outlet for my prose & declared that “I don’t have Twitter”. I’ve since shortened this declaration to “Never Tweet”, which is not only more actionable, but a more accurate characterization of my problems with the website.

Many of my friends have told me I’m “good at Twitter”, in the sense that I know how to craft a tweet that will do numbers. I wish this meant I was funny, but that’s not really what doing numbers is about. For one, there are a lot of situations where trying to be funny would be tasteless, or at least tacky. How do you “do numbers” in the wake of governmental neglect? How about in the midst of police brutality? Hey, what is the most like-worthy take when someone you know is accused of a crime?

Laid out this way, it’s obvious that these are terrible questions to ask. I don’t think anyone contemplates them on purpose – those of us who live & breathe social media have been psychologically conditioned to optimize for engagement. Sure, it might not be our fault, but who else is responsible for our individual actions if not ourselves?

From January 2022 to May 2022, I logged out of my main Twitter account on all of my devices, using it only for DMs and sporadic project announcements. More recently, I’ve concluded that leaving behind my friends who still primarily communicate through Twitter is not an attribute of a high-quality friend. You might see likes & replies from me, but I stand by my conviction that social media doesn’t deserve to be the first place people go to write their thoughts.

Useful tools

These are some of the browser extensions I use to make Twitter a healthier environment for social interaction. I don’t use my main account on any platform that doesn’t support extensions, such as my phone.

  • Tweak New Twitter (Firefox / Chrome) removes “algorithmic content” such as the Home timeline, “Who to follow” & similar inserts, recommended & promoted tweets, and so on. Generally offers more control over Twitter’s web UI.
  • Twitter Demetricator (Firefox / Chrome) hides all of the numbers on Twitter, including follower / following counts on profiles, likes / retweets / replies on tweets, and the numbers on unread badges.
  • Stylus (Firefox / Chrome) or any other user style extension can be used to hide the “Follows you” badge on profile pages & cards. Here’s the CSS snippet I’m using:
/* Hide the "Follows you" badge */
.r-1gkfh8e.r-1sw30gj.r-14j79pv, /* light theme */
.r-1gkfh8e.r-115tad6.r-8erxvq,  /* dim theme */
.r-1gkfh8e.r-z32n2g             /* lights out theme */
    display: none;

The net result of these tweaks: my timeline consists solely of tweets from people I’m following, with no RTs, quote tweets, or non-tweet cruft. I don’t see metrics under anyone’s tweet or profile. I don’t know whether anyone in particular is following me or not.

On top of all these changes, I still choose to Never Tweet – Twitter, as a platform, doesn’t deserve to be the home for my public writing. Replies and DMs are enough for me.

Never Tweeting is an act of holistic self-care.