Mr. Elon Musk now owns Twitter, Inc., which makes many people angry. I think I’m mad too, but after pausing to think about my feelings since the sink tweet, I realized that even if he fixes the platform, my relationship with the tool is not healthy.

And who knows? You might be barking at the same tree as I was.

Those filthy users

It is, of course, an opinion article, but I think “Welcome to hell, Elon” nails it. Stop reading this page and check it right now. I’ll wait.

Back? Great.

Ok, Twitter has enormous issues and challenges ahead.

We love drama. It’s part of our lives, and Twitter knows it. The “What’s happening” is like the wall of a restroom at the filthiest pub in the city. Quick and short opinions have more weight than links to long reads (apparently, tweets with links get less engagement somehow). Drama makes money, and you can’t make drama taming your feelings first.

There might be some technological solutions, but generally, the problem is the users and their interactions. Those filthy users.

Twitter relations (followers and following) differ from friendship on other platforms. They are directional links in the graph of user accounts. Facebook’s friendship is, for example, bidirectional. You and I need to be friends. On Twitter, I can follow accounts they don’t know about me. Is this bad? Of course not! It’s what brought me to Twitter in the first place. But that, plus the power dynamic created by the followers/following ratio, generates mob mentality, harassment, and echo chambers. It also creates a false feeling of social belonging: you might think you are part of a group, and the group doesn’t even know you are there.

And I am also tired of the constant race to win followers. Recently I saw a conversation on Twitter about why very few accounts write about complex programming things, and thousands of them talk about almost hello-world-style things. “Learn how to code JS in 5 tweets” is a thing. The answer is simple, at least for me: complex things take a lot of time and are error-prone. Simple stuff where you can’t delve more is easy to read and easy to retweet. Engagement equals traffic, and that means money. And, to add more to my point, let’s assume some accounts talk about complex stuff (because they exist). Is Twitter a nice place to read it? What is better, 40 tweets about a security flaw or a blog post?

Are blogs better than Twitter? Hell no, they are different formats. Both have their place. Also, blogs have their own issues. In this life and age of engagement, they are way more complex to monetize than Instagram or Twitter accounts. Writing doesn’t sell as much as a photo and twenty-four hashtags. And let’s be real. I’m praising for blogs but I don’t write at all. Again, writing is hard.

But it must have something nice, right? Yes, indeed. There are tons of incredible accounts. Accounts like Foone’s or MPC7500’s are superb. I love them! You can see they do that just for the sake of doing it. No second hidden reasons. No business engagement motivations.

But apart from all of this, there is an additional issue. One that I’m not sure I can fix. And the problem is that I might be…

An addict.

Well, that sounds a little too dramatic, isn’t it? But it’s catchy.

And true, somehow. I checked Twitter five times and tweeted a bunch of times while drafting this blog post. And of course, just right after publishing this, I’ll post it on Twitter. How ironic.

I’m a single child. And I was always really introspective. My whole life was me in silence, playing video games, playing with Lego bricks, or reading comics and books.

For work and university, I used to travel by train in silence every day for almost eight years, for more than 2 hours in total without Internet (come to where I live, we have huge mountains and a lot of tunnels), no music, just me and my thoughts. And now I cannot stare at my laptop without typing Twitter in the address bar when something I’m doing is hard, or it’s just taking time.

I used to try over and over again to solve things. I still do. You should ask my girlfriend about when I wasted more than one hour repeating the exact same movements to obtain a secret power-up in the last Metroid. Or how I daily run for one hour straight with the same song in my ears (for the past 10 years, I’ve been listening to the same song when I run). But I see my ability to focus on tough things seriously drained. Reading is more challenging than ever, and coding… let’s leave that out, please.

Does the test run in less than 5 seconds? No? Twitter. Can I reproduce the bug? No? Twitter.

That kind of behavior is me not knowing better. It’s easy for me to play the same DJ Max song for 3 hours straight until I get the maximum possible score (being there, done that) because I obtain direct pleasure from the challenge. But when the path could be more fun, like when you do not understand why a piece of code does not work, Twitter is two keystrokes away.

I have an excuse, though. I learned that you should not wait for that initial hype feeling to jump into doing something but start and give yourself 10 or 15 minutes into the task. If you are stuck, stop, stand, walk for a few minutes and give it another try. Not just go to Twitter.

Why didn’t I know this? I have no idea, but that might explain why I’m a terrible student and why I worked as System Administrator for years. It’s the most active job in the IT industry! Everything is a fire to tame!

When I switched to a DevOps-like role, and now that I’m working on compilers and debuggers, I found out everything needs to be carefully thought out… Then I found the real struggle of deep focus sessions.

No, I’m not saying System Administration is straightforward and lacks deep work, far from that. I’m just saying it is or was way more active. Fix it or die! Time pressure was a constant. I was hooked!

So what now?

I usually do what some people call detox once in a while, and like a real addict, after a detox, I bounce again into my drug. And if it isn’t Twitter, it is binge-watching YouTube videos.

YouTube is a problem on its own. I can get a lot of value from some videos, but it’s a form of procrastination. So I am trying to figure out what to do with it. I’ll follow the essential channels using feeds, the ones I always want to see the videos and avoid entering Youtube as much as possible. And download to my NAS (yes, I’m evil), like those documentary-like videos.

But Twitter… I don’t think I get any value. I’m not quite sure, to be honest. But even if I do, I want to pause my usage for an extended period and see if I really need it. Luckily I can follow some of the most critical accounts for my needs using RSS. Feedly and Inoreader have Twitter support, and you can always use Nitter.

And write more here. Of course. Not only for other people but for me. Because putting thoughts in order is more challenging than we might think, but it helps us learn and grow immensely.