Leaving Twitter


That's the amount of times I instinctively wrote "twitter.com" in Chrome's URL bar today. Five times I saw the login screen instead of my home feed, and five times I was reminded about the decision I made last night. Even while writing this, I have the urge to quickly cmd+tab into chrome, go to Twitter and check up on… I don't even know what.

I'm not allowing myself to do that anymore; yesterday evening I decided I'd log off of Twitter, hopefully for good.

Yesterday in general was a weird day. I visited the doctor, talked about burnout, she wrote me off work for a couple of weeks, and gave me one task: try to get my thoughts back in order. There are many factors in play, and I don't feel the need to share all of them with the world wide web. The "full picture" also doesn't matter for what I do want to share: that realisation I had yesterday evening, lying awake, trying to make sense of it all. "The bucket's full", the doctor had told me, "nothing will fit anymore. You'll have to make some changes."

I'm not a total mess by the way. I caught this early (thanks to my wife), and I'm dealing with it, and I'll get it fixed. However, yesterday it was clear to me that in order to do so, I needed to get rid of one specific thing. It's definitely not the only culprit, but yes, Twitter has had an effect on the downwards spiral I'm experiencing.

Now, my job involves being online, a lot. I'm a developer advocate so people need to know me, and I need to know them. I've always thought to be very lucky or blessed having been able to turn what I used to do as my hobby, into my full time job. I get to create, I get to interact with like-minded people, I get to build meaningful relationships. Naturally, having to be involved with the PHP community, Twitter was one of the hot spots for me.

I used to use Twitter as a place to meet new people, to discover interesting ideas. PHP developers shared projects, opinions, blog posts, videos, and it was a great platform for discovery on the web.

But, obviously, Twitter has changed. People might still be tweeting about those things, they just don't reach me anymore. Twitter's goal has shifted into keeping people on the platform, while I need exactly the opposite. My home feed these days is filled with indie SaaS developers, content- and course creator guru's, thought leaders, self-proclaimed SEO-experts, and people trying to sell me whatever they are making. It has grown into an alienating, artificial "positive-vibes" feedback loop. The Algorithm™ is serving a different kind of content these days, forcing more and more people to make that kind of content, rinse and repeat.

And you know what? It works. I can't stop scrolling. After ten minutes I suddenly think: what am I doing here? I close the tab. Ten minutes later I've somehow ended up scrolling that same feed again — I don't even remember how I got there.

By pure coincidence, while I'm writing this post, a great blog post suddenly popped into my feed (RSS feed, that is, not Twitter), it talks about the same topic:

Like many, I bought into the software hustle culture, spurred by Twitter and loads of success stories by indie hackers who seem to be able to fart money before I've even had my first coffee.

From my point of view, the worst part is that this content doesn't really make me happy. It doesn't really inspire. It doesn't really make me a better person. Of course, everyone wants me to think that their content and their tweets are different and valuable, but in the end they bring little to no value. That might be different for others, but for me, it simply doesn't work anymore. I'm sick of it. Twitter's Algorithm™ has had such a negative impact on my happiness, my self-worth, and my motivation, that I can't continue to mindlessly scroll.

So I decided to log off. I'll have to think about how I can still do my job without Twitter. I might go on a blocking and mute spree once I start work again, trying to clean my home feed. On the other hand, given how much Twitter changed over the past years, I'm not at all convinced it offers enough value for what I'm trying to do anyway. We'll see… People who still want to reach me or be kept up to date about what I'm doing can always mail me if they want to.