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To Quit or Not Quit Twitter

If you're anything like me, you're weary of your like-hate rollercoaster relationship with Twitter.

The number one reason—though there are several—has finally occurred to me: there are too many reasons to be indignant. We just can't keep up with all the issues about which we have emotions, the events we're expected to respond to, the ideologies we're supposed to publicly distance ourselves from.

Quite simply, there is too much fuckery in the world. Don't like that word? Sorry. That's what it is.

Hate, hate at the haters, hate at the people you think are haters who are really just living their lives and voicing the opinions they're totally entitled to. It's all so exhausting.

And it's not just about "big issues." They loved that film? Well, here are 8,031 Twitter users who will tell you why their enjoyment is morally despicable.

Some of it we feel called to rally around and fight.

Some of it we quietly disagree with but lack the desire to be involved in online controversy that could hurt our "brand."

Much of it we feel peer-pressured into having a visible opinion on.

Some of it we don't know how to feel about but still must escape the gigantic bullying movement—online in general but particularly active on Twitter—about HAVING AN OPINION.

We're being bullied to join a side. For most issues, there is only one side we're supposed to cleave to if we're a "good" person, and if you don't voice this out loud, you'll be ostracised forevermore, your career in the toilet, your username put on a sh*t list (I don't know why I asterisked out of that one when I used the above word some of you won't like but here we are) that is passed around amongst warmongering witch-burners.

I don't know the solution, or all the reasons. I think that the internet has made it much easier to condemn and feel righteous in doing so, and thereby quickly look good to the others who shout similar things.

But it's so shouty. That's the problem. That's what two authors on a podcast recently said, that they aren't on Twitter much these days because it's just a bunch of people yelling. That reminded me to revisit this topic. And given how few likes and RTs that average folk are getting these days (thanks to algorithms and doom-scrolling), it really does feel that way.

I'm tired of the vitriol, the toxic discourse, the anger, the I'm-right-and-if-you-disagree-you'll-burn-in-hell belligerent refusal to let someone else state an opposite opinion without retaliating in the form of death threats.

Yes, this world is full of injustice. But the question I've got to ask myself is, do I want to voluntarily wade into a pool where each specific instance is being reiterated, then another is demonstrated as a result, and I'm expected to stand up and align myself with The One True Right Belief or else be branded at best apathetic, at worst, a festering boil on Satan's arse?

Each of us have a moral code, and I believe most know in our heart what we think is right and wrong, and do what we feel best follows that code. But it is truly a sickness to believe we can be online, fighting each fire every day, to prove who we are. Our actions in our daily lives, not what we shout online, should be the proof of that. And to my mind, it's a better proof.

Not every cause can fill our 24 hours a day. It doesn't mean we don't see the rights and wrongs happening, it just means we have to live our lives, and we have only so much mental capacity to give online. Say it with me: we cannot possibly give voice to every issue and every axe to grind, for better or for worse.

Maybe today it's capybara photos. Maybe tomorrow it'll be sharing a page to donate to a worthy cause. And the day after that, maybe it's back to the capybaras.

I want to quit Twitter. I've deleted the app from my phone, so I have to go on the website if I really want to make myself miserable—I mean, check what's happening. For awhile the main reason I kept going was #FolkloreThursday. As a fantasy writer who draws heavily from folklore and simply as a folklore fan, I adored this hashtag but the people running the weekly postings have since retired it. I've made amazing friends on Twitter, and have found there much to feed my muse whether it's music, videos, art, or ideas. But I communicate with friends elsewhere now. I post more on Instagram because it blends images and words in a much more palatable, digestible fashion. And I find just as much to inspire me there or elsewhere as I ever did on Twitter.

So, my dwindling list of reasons for using it are:

  1. Communicating with customer service of companies who are impossible to get ahold of otherwise.

  2. RTing the few accounts who doggedly continue to post inspiring, uplifting, or chuckle-worthy ideas (all sorely needed).

  3. Researching agents and publishers.

However, the last item on that list needs revisiting. Publishing is such an utter shower these days that the information available on Twitter is only going to serve to unsettle rather than help me. I'd be better off focusing on my work and research via more official outlets than wandering around the minefields of hastily-typed one-offs. And publishing news—you might say I should stay as current on it as I can. Well, to that I say, to what end? I subscribe to a few newsletters from sources I respect. At this point, taking in any more is not helpful, or healthy.

I have to admit part of my reason for sticking with Twitter the past several years is that a good friend and crit partner found her agent on Twitter. By chance, she saw an agent she'd never heard of ask for a book just like hers. My friend queried her. Within 2 weeks, my friend had an agent and a book deal. It was a fairytale ... until it wasn't, they parted ways, and she's on agent and publisher #2.

She's still worlds ahead of me in her career, but my point is, that method of procuring "the right one" isn't really all that. And Twitter pitch contests are dead. You heard it here first (not really).

The very last item of consideration? My own tweets.

I've tried so many times to start a mini-campaign of encouragement—sharing on hashtags to encourage other creatives while trying to bolster my own hope. But each time, this has fallen flat. I have a decent chunk of followers. So is it algorithms again? Or is it simply that Twitter is such a train wreck that every looky-loo passenger is simply flicking through to find the next big viral calamity while struggling to notice anything else?

I think I've taken one step closer to breaking up with Twitter. Some might say I need this tool in order to succeed should I ever be fortunate enough to publish any books, but the rising number of people who enjoy and/or write the kinds of books I do who don't use Twitter is heartening intel indeed.

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