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‘.