Thoughts on continuing to use Twitter

Context

In a previous post1, I mentioned how my experience of Twitter is actually quite nice and I don’t encounter any of the craziness that other people report.

Is that still true? Well, yes and no.

The problem: “political” content

There isn’t really any escaping (hmm, what should I call it) “unexpected content” on Twitter, as long as the entity being followed is a Person and not a Topic2.

I had earlier decided to be “casual” in my use of Twitter, which led to me randomly following and liking posts and people in my stream.

The problem is, the “information ecosystem” for all “political facts”3 is extremely polarized. There are competing narratives4 for each “event”, and being neutral as a matter of principle, I end up seeing both sides.

This isn’t bad per se, and is … at least informative, but it puts me at odds with the (hmm, what should I call them) “reductionists”, who want to neatly classify profiles (people) based on who they follow and what they like.

So there really isn’t any more “casual use” on the platform, and there is much more that could be said about why that is, why the incentives turned out this way, “what could have been“ and so on, but either way, there is a need for a more guarded interaction.

Give up on Twitter?

For better or worse, I have found, and keep finding, really interesting stuff on Twitter. There are people who share interesting images, or links, or articles. There are people who provide expert opinions on topics I like.

For me, this is a supplement to Reddit, except without strong subreddit boundaries.

Which is to say: there is real utility for me on Twitter, and I don’t want to lose that.

A task for myself: I should try to figure out what I’m really following on Twitter anyway. What are some themes in what I like, etc. Again, I don’t actually have time to do this thoroughly, so maybe just broad impressions.

Decisions/actions

What I’ve decided to do for now, slowly, gradually, is filter out any profiles where I judge most tweets are political.

I don’t have time to sit down and do this at one go5

So instead, each time I find myself scrolling through my feed, and I see too much political content6, I’ll ask myself if there is any topically interesting tweets at all from this profile, and if not, simply un-follow.

I’ve done this a bit already, and I expect it’ll be a few months before I’ll (probabilistically) get close to examining all my follows, but that’s the plan for now.

Digression: what is the best way to “thread” posts?

Retro-actively go back and apply a common tag? Create a linked list of posts? Lazy right now so will do neither.

There are a bunch of non-linear textual tools I use locally for this, but what’s the online equivalent? Again, lazy right now, will stick to WordPress, with its linear post timeline. But later … maybe one of TheBrain, Roam, or Notion.

Some other options

Just to brainstorm alternatives (for my future self, in case he has more time and interest)

  1. I could create multiple twitter accounts, for different “bundles of interest”, each me7, but a part of me.
  2. I could create a pseudonymous account and allow that one to be the one where I resume casually browsing stuff8.


  1. “Using Twitter the right way” ↩︎
  2. There are many possible ways a “topic” could be represented, I guess the spectrum runs from loosely-specified (think tags, hashtags, phrases) to strictly-specified (think subreddits) ↩︎
  3. So much of “putting words in quotes”, right? ↩︎
  4. Though well-visualized in Twitter’s new conversation view, so good on that. ↩︎
  5. The total number of profiles I’ve ended up following is surprisingly high, nearly 5000! It would take a couple hours, at least, to go through all of them. ↩︎
  6. Sometime later, I should mention how my news consumption patterns changed for the better in general. ↩︎
  7. Like namespaces within me, which is how I would really want profiles to be, dis-aggregated and reflecting our true sub-selves. ↩︎
  8. The right way for this would have been a single “read-only” view that everyone could have, of the entire graph of tweets. Imagine if we had the contract “you can either be authenticated and share/comment, or be pseudonymous and like/follow, but not comment.” ↩︎

Using Twitter the right way (!)

Apparently there was a massive Twitter hack1 yesterday, and some folks clearly made a bunch of money2 off it too.

I didn’t notice this, though I do spend several minutes a day on Twitter. I guess it’s probably because I don’t have a lot of verified accounts that I follow, and I stick to sort of the “long tail” of Twitter.

My Twitter experience is most pleasant, and (I feel) quite informative too, which is very much the opposite of what most people experience.

I think the lesson is clear, for these “giga-social-network”3: stay away from the “home page”4, stay away from the popular stuff5.

FWIW I do the same6 at Reddit (the only other7 “giga-social-network” I allow myself to use right now). And I’ve had a similar good time there8 too.


  1. all “the big names” ↩︎
  2. can I haz bitcoin? ↩︎
  3. because mega isn’t big enough ↩︎
  4. I’m aware of the implication here: to provide this enjoyable long-tail interest-driven experience, a large mass of people endure the hell of context-less random responses, trolling, centi-threads, bans, “angry speech”, and so forth; I’m not trying to diagnose any of that here. Yet. ↩︎
  5. The folks at Wired seem to have reached a similar conclusion ↩︎
  6. i.e. don’t follow overly-popular sub-reddits ↩︎
  7. No, haven’t gotten back to Facebook yet ↩︎
  8. though again, “toxicity” and “hate” seem to be widely experienced ↩︎