Discover more from Adventures In "Journalism" by Sari Botton
Breaking Up with Twitter
Although it might be more like we're "on a break."
Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter/X nearly a year ago, there have been countless moments when I almost left the platform I first joined in 2008 and quickly became addicted to. Almost.
I kept my account through it all because it’s been such an incredibly useful and entertaining place to hang out. I also refused to be bullied off it, to give up my connections to various groups. Twitter/X has given me so much in terms of opportunity and community, especially given that I’ve long felt too far removed from New York City and the literary/media world. It’s informed me of both breaking news and insightful news analysis. It’s cracked me up, and distracted me through some of the horrors of the last seven years.
But when the platform recently announced a change in terms of service allowing it to use our posts to train artificial intelligence (and for who knows what else—it’s a slippery slope) I knew it was time for drastic measures. Those terms go into effect this Friday, 9/29. Today I locked my account and began the long process of having fifteen years’ worth of tweets deleted with the help of an app called TweetDelete.
It’s one thing to have mental health influencers and others making hay with my words while I receive nothing in return. It’s another entirely to have that malevolent turd use my words for any kind of gain. I will not allow it. Yes, other tech platforms I use have recently adopted similar terms, and I don’t like it. But they are not owned by that malevolent turd, an evil chaos agent, a bully who can’t be trusted not to hurt others just for sport.
For a moment I considered leaving the platform altogether. But a colleague warned me that if I did, someone could impersonate me using my abandoned “handle” (← a term that always reminds me of when my dad bought a CB radio in 1976 at my urging, so I could talk on it with my best friend in my sixth-grade class). It’s happened to some people I know. I don’t want it to happen to me.
Someone else pointed out that somewhere down the line something could change that would put the platform in more benevolent hands, making it good and useful again, which would make me want to reclaim my account and its more than 11K followers. Another reason not to simply deactivate.
I started the post deletion today because I’ve heard from others that the process can take a while. I felt sad when I clicked the button that launched the process. What a huge bummer to have one of the most useful communication tools coopted and ruined in this way. But it also felt prudent and wise, and dare I say mature; I’m not so addicted to Twitter/X that I can’t (essentially) abandon it when it threatens to hurt me in some way. I recognize that it will be good to reclaim the considerable brain space it had occupied and reordered.
That said, I’m not ditching that kind of posting altogether. I’ve been trying out other platforms, and so far Bluesky seems like the best of them. (Find me there. I also have a few invitation codes if anyone needs one.) I’ve also been enjoying Substack Notes.
So far neither platform has the same level of grippiness as Twitter/X, nor the frenetic pace. In my book, at least for now, that’s a good thing.