I have kept the ‘codelust’ handle online since early 2000. I needed a unique handle at that time, one that nobody without a thick skin would take up on any platform. And, over the years, it became very much my main identity in the larger world.
Twitter is where I have used that handle for the most time on any social network. In recent years, whatever little social contact I have retained in my personal life was mostly through Twitter . Yet, it was increasingly becoming an unhappy place for me. There is a performance of sorts that goes on Twitter and I have grown to dislike it much.
You are curated by an audience that you already have (your followers), and then there is the potential of a much wider audience, should your content get shared widely. You can get thousands of retweets on a single tweet if it goes viral. It is democratization of reach, but it also changed the relationship of the individual with the platform.
I deleted my Facebook account in 2010, because it was not having a good effect on my mental health. Since the time I signed up in 2009, Twitter had remained an outlier, and it survived numerous purges on many other platforms. That changed in 2021. Sometime early this year, I deleted my Twitter account.
Everything about it had became a lot more noisy. It was all turning into a performance and nobody, including me, was exempt from it. For more reach, cliques are formed, organically or intentionally. And cliques promote polarizing behaviour, since it gets amplified more than a moderate demeanour. ‘Nasty’ gets you places and fame. The incentives were increasingly getting misaligned with my priorities.
That said, there are many good things to Twitter too. It has been a spectacular platform for people to organize around (good and bad) causes. Information that is otherwise not easily sourced is often found on Twitter. If you know how to filter that information, there is a goldmine out there.
2021 has been a tough year. I have lost so many people that I have known and been close to this year to COVID. I had been living on the mantra that “time is limited and I need to make it count” even before all those losses piled up. And those losses just made everything a lot more clearer.
When I asked myself what is that would make me feel settled about how I spend my time, the answer was not mastering the use of Twitter in a good manner. And that was a good enough reason for me. There are other important reasons for almost scrubbing myself off the internet, some of which I have alluded to in a previous post.
The handle is mostly gone now. The Twitter one has been taken over by what seems to be a Chinese programmer (with a high probability of it being a catfish account). I don’t really miss it much, even though there was a huge amount of content I had published on the platform. It has all been deleted and it is all gone now.
As time moves on my urge has been to go deeper into things as a solitary pursuit than to be into million things at a superficial level. There is also the eternal heartbreak of so much of technology not being used for the betterment of people. No point lamenting that, but need to work hard at making a little dent in there somewhere.
There is also something to be said about not sharing the details of most places you to go, things you do and things you see. We used to spend a significant part of our lives in a private manner, save a few close ones. Why has it become so difficult to do that again? And not all of it is due to technology. A lot of is just us. And I hope to reclaim some of that private-ness to myself with this erasure.