If you’re reading this after a link you clicked on Twitter (which is doubtful as that platform generated very little traffic for these blog posts or podcasts) you may be surprised to learn that I am no longer on Twitter. Yes, I retain an account and that automatically uploads these posts that I make directly on the website. But if you plan to reply on that platform, please save your time and attention. I will not be answering.
I’ve come to the end of my Twitter tether. The more time I spend on that platform, the more absurd my position seems. I don’t want to legitimise the big tech companies. I left Facebook years ago. Likewise, I rarely use Google. I avoid YouTube at all costs. In truth, I have popped back there a couple of times since they started their purge of ‘views that differ from the legacy media narrative’. Every time I have gone back, I find myself increasingly frustrated by adverts and the mendacious algorithm. It’s a last resort, as opposed to the go-to source of videos it once was. Ah! The wonders of YouTube in its infancy. When the unrefined algorithm threw up all sorts of gems for those seeking some nuance in their outlook.
But that’s another story for another time. Twitter is now the focus of my ire. “Why?” I hear you cry in my egoistic imaginings. “Why what?” I reply. Why did I return to Twitter? Why have I left again? What has Twitter ever done to me? Well, in short, very little directly, but plenty indirectly and surreptitiously.
I first left Twitter after the Brexit escapade, realising that shouting into the digital void was doing little to improve my life. It was the result of numerous spats that managed to rile up passions in me, but it was no path to physical or mental emancipation. When I began the Mountain Views Podcast, I thought it would be a good platform for promotion. I opened a new account, setting myself some basic ground rules: Don’t get into spats and arguments. Only use it as a tool to assist me. Only use it on my desktop browser. The latter rule I stuck to. The others, not so much.
The truth is that if we want to change this world, we need to do so through positive, real-world action. Manifesting our creativity in the physical world, which requires two key components; our time and our attention. These life currencies of actual real value are precisely those one squanders when using Twitter.
Twitter gives very few opportunities to engage in positive reality. It gives a platform for one to link to creative endeavours, but arguing with Julia Hartley Brewer in a tweet she will never read or respond to, does not cut the creative mustard.
In a short space of time, I found myself acting as though I was an authoritative political commentator, weighing in with my considered opinion. All in service of ego, with very little else to show for my investments. I found Twitter and its seductive little red circles would milk my dopamine gland for all its wares, resulting in actual deficit to my life.
My desire to see people tacitly agreeing with me, via a like here, or a retweet there, was the hook, but then I would spend literal hours crawling through my feed, either agreeing with my echo chamber or disagreeing with the latest outrage to affront my liberty. Notice the alchemy here. By engaging with Twitter like this, I am not writing, doing the day job, taking the dog for a walk, spending time with family, reading, learning or playing. I’m sitting, and I’m either mentally grinding or fawning for red dot approval. Woof, woof Pavlov. My currency is being spent, but I’m getting nothing real or positive in return.
In essence, I have been taking part in my own personal demise. I imagine my grandchildren:
“What did you do in the last great battle, Grandpa?”
“Well, I agreed the fuck out of things, and sometimes I shook my metaphorical cyber-fist at accounts run by people paid to stoke deliberate division and controversy.”
“Is that why we live in this gulag, Grandpa?”
“Yes, it is kids. These were the hard-won freedoms I helped claw back from the technocrats, and it’s all thanks to me writing a witty retort that Dick Delingpole only went and bloody well ‘liked’.”
But it’s not just my own human ineptitude. I doubt I’m the only one who falls into the time vacuum, ashamed of what a powerful driver of actions my own dumb ego is. I get the feeling that Twitter is psychologically designed to do just what I have described. In fact, this TED talk video from 2017 demonstrates that these big tech corporations are far more insidious than we give credit for, when using their platforms. That video is four and a half years old. Imagine, the lightening march of tech progress in that time. These sleek, fast and psychologically savvy websites are designed to keep us physically sedentary and mentally inactive.
Case in point. This post. If I was still on Twitter, I can guarantee I would be doing that and not writing this. Within 16 hours of leaving, I’m 100% more productive. And if I was on Twitter now, what would I be doing. I can’t tell you exactly, but I guarantee it would be difficult to get off and concentrate my time and attention on something else. I would feel slightly deflated, and I would check back every 5 minutes for another red dot fix. The sum result would be slightly diminished self-confidence and disappointment that I should have done more today.
Then there’s the censorship. We all harangue and wail because Darren from Plymouth has been removed. #ReinstateDarren. Why not just leave the stupid platform. They clearly don’t care about free speech. Why are we appealing to them, as though they will suddenly realise the error of their ways and reform in reaction to a barrage of tweets from a wave of potential unpersons?
The character limit is a restriction that also stifles debate. The platform has honed the pithy comeback, but it is no replacement for the town square debate of the Socratic age. It is an equivalent self-flagellation as me attempting to persuade my dog of the importance of the nuances of social convention during feeding time. Twitter is a platform insufficient in scope. It is a where there is no space to explain, let alone avoid logical fallacies.
There are lots of great people and great information shared on Twitter (albeit until it gets censored). But there are many good and complex people in the real world, who we could be engaging with to bring an end to the real-world problem we are facing. This is where Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain excel. The column inches they generate are done so through real-world action, with ensuing debate thereafter. (In fact, the debate doesn’t actually exist. The action is the cause, everything after is the effect, and the agenda is set. Why would they care about our tweets. They are a safety valve, devoid of any real action.) Many people opposed to tyranny seem to prefer to make their stand from the comfort of their iPhone.
All the time we are on Twitter, with our digital pitchforks, we are MAKING MONEY FOR THEM. They are actively monitoring our posts and profiling us. That profile is tied to other email addresses used on different platforms. Twitter sells data to third-party agencies who build comprehensive profiles of who we are, what makes us happy, sad, motivated etc. At best, they target us with advertising, at worst their profiling is nefarious. Don’t take my word for it. Explore episode 65 of Tragedy and Hope’s Peace revolution podcast. Pay particular attention to Stephen Rambam’s lecture on the post privacy age we live in. The YouTube link is in the show notes, but the episode, and all episodes, are worth listening to in its/their entirety. Again, this lecture was posted in 2012. Where are we 9 years further on?
It would be a strange military strategy to tell the enemy where you are, what you’re doing, your likes, dislikes and passions. Is it any wonder we are in the condition we are in? If there is a secret cabal intent on global control, which seems increasingly certain, they must be laughing all the way to the central bank. We are truly our own worst enemies.
So why have I left Twitter? Because I reject this New Normal, but I also reject the old normal too. I want to live in a better world for me and my family. I want to wake people up to the ugly, misshapen truth that we have all been conditioned to accept as our powerless reality. If I am to have any effect on my goals, I need to initiate some causes. Sitting passively whilst at the behest of my emotions while I cash in my time and attention for dopamine buttons is not going to change a thing. If you genuinely want to change the world in a positive direction, remove yourself from Twitter. Then use that same currency to make a real-world change.