Right after I finished reading Jon Ronson’s excellent So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed book, my Twitter usage plummeted. It was a long time coming, and enough incidents has built up, but this book just got my mind thinking and it couldn’t stop. From then on, Twitter was this useless social media appendance. I stopped interacting and went mostly into read-only mode. I had my various blogs, etc, auto post to Twitter to extend my reach. My heart really wasn’t into it.
And then you have Twitter the product. Harassment is a real problem on Twitter and the culture on Twitter that has lead that to happen. I’m not sure Twitter can really do anything about it, because the culture is too far gone. Beyond harassment, you have public shaming for any perceived slight. Justine Sacco’s life was horribly altered. When Trevor Noah was announced as the host of the Daily Show, people specifically combed his Twitter feed for something offensive. Block Bots are created, allegedly to block harassers, but when you know people on there who have done absolutely nothing wrong, you know it’s not about harassment, it’s just shunning. The whole environment is just plain awful.
I don’t even know what Twitter the company is trying to do now. They’ve done some things for harassment, some that are just common sense, but it takes them forever. They formed some advisory board, but it lacked a lot of support for the concept of free speech.
Yes, there is some value as a source of information, and live tweeting can be fun. But there is only so much news and so many live events out there to fill up your timeline and time. In the past, I’ve deactivated my account, but couldn’t pull the trigger on letting my account get deleted. This is for two main reasons. First, FOMO. Fear of missing out on something that is happening on Twitter, but that fear is long gone now. Nothing happens on Twitter only that I care about. Secondly, my ego. I had a resistance to giving up my handle that could possibly be reused in the future. As if I have a birthright to the handle “ShanePBrady” wherever I go. It’s beyond silly.
So yesterday, while mowing my lawn, thinking about little ways, little dumb ways my ego holds me back, the simple fact that I keep an account open on a service I don’t like, because I don’t want someone else to have my name keep resonating. So today, I post this. Next Monday, I deactivate. Thirty days past that, Twitter will deactivate my account automatically, and I wash my hands of it. The gesture will affect me more than it will Twitter the company, but one has to start somewhere.