I deleted Twitter. Here’s why you should, too

I pulled the plug. Deactivated. Gone (in 30 days, presumably).

I’d been hanging onto hope that I could use Twitter for my own purposes but remain totally disconnected from the mob mentality, polarization, and hostility. But now I understand these are the core of what Twitter is.

Enraged, hashtag-sparked pile-ons. Hypocritical, selective “fact-checking.” Tweets that call for violence that are conveniently overlooked. A whole lot of shouting and very little listening. Hatred is embedded in the source code of Twitter.

Over the years, it’s became clear that Twitter CEO and Co-Founder Jack Dorsey will not make a substantive effort to curb the corruption on his platform. Twitter has made itself clear; they do not stand for the free exchange of ideas. Only one set of ideas will be tolerated. Policies will continue to be applied unequally based on users’ viewpoints. The echo chamber will continue to grow more and more deafening.

So I did myself a favor and broke up with Twitter.

How it started, and why I left

I originally started my Twitter account during an independent study on freelancing in college (I got to develop the curriculum and syllabus myself—how awesome is that?). I started this WordPress site at the same time, primarily created to house school portoflio pieces and freelancing-related blog posts based on my own explorations. I’d been considering becoming a freelance writer, and what freelance writer doesn’t have a public Twitter profile?

After the independent study and college, during my first year of full-time employment as a Content Writer, I used Twitter for professional development purposes. I don’t regret the connections I made, the great content I consumed, or the things I learned (I do, however, kinda regret some of the time wasted).

Sure I could continue to overlook the evil at the root of this platform and blithely use it to my own ends (don’t get me wrong—many, many people use it for wonderful purposes). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it’s that the polarization of ideas and people starts online—particularly on social media, and even more particularly on Twitter. The things that people say to one another online they would never say to a flesh-and-blood person face-to-face.

Spending too much time in a divisive environment affected how I see people, and I didn’t like it. Besides, there are other more wholesome avenues to share ideas and engage with people. Twitter, though a major player online, doesn’t have the monopoly (don’t get me started on Facebook!).

So, where do we go from here?

If the escalating social media purge is any indication, we can’t rely on companies like Twitter to play by their own rules or treat users fairly; they certainly won’t respect your right to free speech. Now seems like a great time to cut ties and consider alternatives.

Simplify your online presence

This is ultimately the route that I chose. One less platform, many fewer hours wasted on scrolling. Cutting back on the time you spend on social media is probably the best choice for your mental health. Maybe use the extra time to text or call a family member or friend…or read a book!

Use an alternative social media platform

On the other hand, you could simply switch to a different social media site, one that is more transparent and consistent with their policies, that values user privacy and free speech, or that fosters a less toxic atmosphere. Right now’s the perfect time to make an exodus from the social media giants and help grow a new community on a less monopolized platform.

I’ve seen friends and acquaintances flocking to MeWe, Parler, and Gab.com. Of these alternatives, I’ve only explored Gab and wrote a blog post about my experience (mostly positive). But ultimately I deleted my account because simplification was the better option for me.

Start your own blog

I believe a great way to hedge yourself against the spiral of hyper-censorship and vitriolic hatred is to create a community on your own terms—such as a personal blog or website. For the most part, you own your site and can share whatever you want. It’s not quite as social as a dedicated social media platform, but it’s yours—you set the rules and no one can kick you out.

I’m grateful that my introduction to “social media” was on WordPress back in 2013. I started a creative writing blog and enjoyed the freedom of writing whatever I wanted and engaging with fellow bloggers. A year later, I started a Facebook account and was gradually introduced to the ugly side of social media.

We all crave community, real community. You have the power to create community on your own terms, and so do I. I suggest we all begin to use it.

The takeaway

You don’t have to play by unfair rules. You don’t have to wade through endless heaps of hateful tweets. You don’t have to settle for Twitter or any other social media site that doesn’t respect people or tolerate the free exchange of ideas. There are alternatives, whether you create your own or use a lesser-known one.

I’m still on Facebook and Instagram for now. We’ll see if that ever changes. I disagree with a lot of the shady practices at Facebook, but I also value the connections to friends and family that I’ve built there over the years. Ultimately, we each need to do what’s right for our own wellbeing.

I’d like to know your thoughts. How do you strike a balance in your digital presence? Do you use social media alternatives or have your own blog/website? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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