Leaving twitter

This is just a post to confirm I’m shutting my main twitter account @dnmstrategic down on May the 1st.  I follow a bit over 2,000 people, who consistently post thoughtful comments and interesting content, and I’m coming up on 100,000 tweets, both indicators that this is a substantial investment that I don’t walk away from lightly.

If we’ve been in contact on twitter I’d love to stay in touch with you.

I do have a ‘bolthole’ twitter account and I’m planning to add all the accounts I followed to a list on that account — but it’s set on private so I won’t be able to respond to your tweets.

Why take such a step?  A couple of reasons.

One is just that it takes up a lot of time and attention — energy I need to channel into writing articles and PhD work.  Normally I get a lot of value from twitter in return, e.g. interesting conversations, learning about new publications, opportunities and events.

But even with all the privilege I have as an educated able-bodied white middle-class man, twitter’s tendency to pile-ons is a negative externality I’m no longer willing to deal with.

In particular, last month I was the target of a pile-on orchestrated by a guy named Dennis Relojo, a contractor employed by the University of Warwick’s “Piirus” social network for research collaborators.  I asked him to follow twitter conventions for addressing one-to-one tweets, so that my timeline wouldn’t fill up with his attempts to promote the network.  His response was to invite his 10,000 followers to pile on.  They contacted my workplace, signed up my work e-mail up to pornographic mailing lists, dished out homophobic abuse, etc.  And I knew right then: I am done with this.

I also want to acknowledge an incident a while back where the fuckup was mine completely — where I continued the thread of a DM conversation about why I’d blocked a young activist via public tweets.  In the early days of twitter it was more common to do this – to use twitter conversation to discuss other tweeters’ use of twitter to establish (or debate) what the emerging norms were.  But you can’t do that with 2,000 followers; that’s like gossiping into a megaphone.  And twitter had recently changed the block function, so that the person I’d blocked still got notified of my tweets, and they were rightly scathing.

So, in short, I no longer feel secure using twitter.  Its interface and systemic function don’t afford effective ways to deal with pile-ons.  The block function is broken.  Lists are incredibly painful to populate and use.  And speaking as a hot-headed loud-mouth, it is stressful knowing anything stupid I say gets amplified so drastically.  I’d rather use media and formats that invite and afford what Mark Pearson calls, in the Buddhist tradition, ‘right speech‘.

Author: Daniel Reeders

I study the cultural dimensions of the social governance of health.

5 thoughts on “Leaving twitter”

  1. +1 to all that! After the responses I copped from having a tweet about racism printed in the Crimes, I have just lost all enthusiasm for Twitter. It was scary that people wanted to send me abuse so much that they would create new accounts, find me on other social media platforms and track down my work email. I didn’t sleep very well for a long time, wondering if someone was going to recognise me in the street or show up at my house. I tended to think that it was sad shut-ins who were the main perpetrators of online abuse, so could be ignored, but it disturbed me to find out that many of them were in my community and sometimes connected to me. It’s ugly, and it’s such a shame because Twitter is an excellent platform to connect and to follow news in the health sector.

  2. Hey there, totally understand your reasoning for signing off from Twitter! I don’t get the need to “pile-on” if someone has a different opinion. And what they did to you was pretty fucking disgusting and puerile.

    Anyway, it’s MsNightshade from Twitter so I’ll keep in touch with you here (i.e. annoy you with dumb questions and such). 🙂

    1. The thing that made me realise it was time to go was not that it was distressing — it was how *normal* it has become to encounter that kind of reaction. Though it kept me awake for two nights in the lead-up to a big presentation, so it was a fairly serious disruption. I realised as well that I’m losing the battle to not care about stupid shit, stuff that isn’t furthering my goals or consistent with my values. Anyhow, I am really glad that we get to stay in touch, I love your perspective on things. ^_^

      1. WOW. The fact that these people think that this kind of behaviour is even REMOTELY acceptable is fucking baffling not to mention, horrifying! And of course, it would have been fairly upsetting having to deal with all of their bullshit in a very real sense (affecting your work) because lawd knows, none of us have anything else going on right?

        Awww, thanks! I’m pleased we can stay in touch, too. And I’m a nobody from nowhere who rants about stupid crap but thank you. *^__^* (You’re very clever and I am always a bit in awe of your super-thinky stuff… so… yeahhh…)

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