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Why I Quit Twitter
I created my Twitter account — the now-unfindable @jeremyanderberg — twelve or thirteen years ago. In that timespan, my use of social media has waxed and waned quite a bit.
I’m on Facebook and Instagram (I have yet to understand the appeal of Snapchat or TikTok), but Twitter is the one that’s always sucked me in.
Part of it is the closeness I could feel with people I admire. Writers, in general, love Twitter. And most of them will respond to you if you say nice things about their work, which doesn’t really happen on other social networks — at least not in my experience.
Part of it is the text-focused nature of the tweet. The reader and writer in me isn’t much into multimedia, so the image-heavy feeds of Facebook and Instagram tend to bore me.
Part of it how fast news breaks on Twitter. It’s insane. People would ask me if I had heard about this or that or the other thing, and the answer was almost always yes because of the time I spent on Twitter. And frankly, that was a nice feeling. You’re never out of the loop when you spend a lot of time tweeting.
No matter how many social media breaks I took, which resulted in plenty of changes to my online habits (I only check Facebook on my computer nowadays), I always came back to heavy use of the Twitter app.
For me, it was the addicting platform that I could lose myself in. Baseball highlights and hot takes, the newest news, authors bantering with each other — I curated the feed to be exactly what would entertain me the most, something I never quite mastered with Facebook or Instagram.
And yet, it always felt a little gross.
The vitriol, the lack of context/nuance, the imaginary “need” to share an opinion about everything, the imaginary closeness with celebrities and influencers.
One of the questions I like to ask myself as often as I can remember is: What are the things in my life that are life-giving and what are the things that are life-draining?
Social media always falls into that second bucket. I never close a social media app and think, “I sure feel refreshed!” No, it’s always, “Well, I feel pretty crappy about not having accomplished more, guess I need to work harder,” or, “Ugh, that person’s life is way more interesting than mine. I wish I had some of that.”
I know the facts — that social media is terrible for self-esteem and self-image and that it inevitably feels life-draining.
And yet, I couldn’t quite quit Twitter.
I don’t really know why, but it continually sucked me in, to the point that I’d open the app or the website the instant I felt a tinge of boredom. It never really interfered with my life, but it got my phone out of my pocket dozens of times per day and interrupted my work flow nearly as much.
There’s definitely some element of hustle culture and capitalistic culture at play. I love this newsletter and I want it to grow. In order for it to grow, it feels like I need to be active on social media. Period. No further need to explain.
But the reality is that I don’t need the newsletter to grow. I love this community of ~4,000 weekly readers and I don’t rely on it for income, so why does it need to grow? It doesn’t! I only think it does because of the entrepreneurial content I consume which says grow grow grow all the time.
It’s not a narrative that I want to buy into anymore.
When Elon bought Twitter last week, it felt like the perfect chance to finally cut the cord. Not that Elon is any different than Zuckerberg — if anything, it’s just a big moment in Twitter’s history and there was an excuse to make a noticeable change in my life at the same time.
So, I did it. I hit “Deactivate Account” early last week, and haven’t regretted it for a second. It’s a touch weird to feel my internet habits change in real-time (where do I go when I’m bored?!), but it’s definitely a change for the better.
Now, I don’t think everyone needs to do the same thing I did. But I do want to say two quick things before wrapping up:
1) If you’re trying to grow something or maintain a personal brand/side hustle, you don’t need social media as much as you think you do. At least not every platform. This is demonstrable, actually: after diving into the stats this week, my newsletter has gotten less than a dozen subscribers from Twitter. The vast majority of my subscribers have come from articles I’ve written for other websites/newsletters and from folks mentioning me in their own email newsletters. I’ve heard the same thing from other people too, for what it’s worth.
2) Think about the things that bring you life and the things that drain you of life. For me, Twitter was almost always life-draining. Instagram doesn’t suck me in quite the same (I quickly get bored) and there are some great meme accounts that crack me up at the end of a long day, so I don’t feel the same need to ditch it. Whatever your conclusions end up being, don’t be afraid to get rid of the things that steal your vitality and energy.