16 May 2022
Posted by Callan Bentley
On April 25th, it was announced that Elon Musk had arranged to buy the social media company Twitter. He had just attained majority shareholder status a few weeks earlier. I’ve been an avid Twitter user for twelve years, accruing 11.5K followers over that interval, and very much enjoying the conversation — but I decided to leave the service when the sale was announced. Musk has articulated both an interest in less moderation on the forum, and a few days later shared a cartoon of what is presumably his political perspective, which is that the right is unchanging, but the left is more extreme. These harbingers potentially clear the way for rightwing extremists to repopulate Twitter. Chief among them may be the former president and coup cheerleader, and Musk has more recently stated that he would reverse TFG’s permanent ban on Twitter. I want no part of a space that lets hatred flow, poisoning the public discourse. So I decided to leave.
But it’s more than that: The increased time I’ve spent on Twitter over the past several years has led to some negative consequences. For one, it’s meant more of my geocreative energy has been expended in that space, with a consequent neglect forming here on my blog. I’m not sure about the role of blogs in the modern Internet landscape, but long form is probably a medium better suited to my talents. Second, there’s the issue of how Twitter impacted me emotionally: I feel like the constant stream of horrible news – about TFG, about COVID, shootings and racial injustice, the continuing lack of progress combating climate change, about the Supreme Court, about half of my fellow Americans — it’s all such a bummer. Stress and depression result. My wife first identified this trend: the more time I spent on Twitter, the grouchier I became. Finally, it’s just about time and attention. I had fallen into the habit of constantly checking Twitter – on my laptop, on my phone – a sort of addiction to the site. It didn’t feel healthy, and it distracted me from focusing on other matters, on whatever I was doing in that moment.
So I left; I deleted the app from my phone; I deleted the Twitter widget from this blog.
The past couple of days have brought another development, with Musk proclaiming the acquisition deal was on hold, which raises the possibility that I could ethically see my way to returning, but the issues outlined in paragraph 2 would still persist, so if that came to pass, It would be most healthy if I were to change things up a bit.
We’ll see. For the time being, my plans are to put my geocreative energy into a new video series (I’ll post about it here once it’s up and running) and into finishing a few case studies for my online Historical Geology text”book.”
I’m neutral regarding the musk stuff, just wanted to tell you that I’d never have found you w/o twitter
Totally understand. I quit Twitter & FB in Apr 2020 for similar reasons and after a short period of withdrawal symptoms, have not missed them. Passive surfing of YT has been a good substitute in the interim until a more promising medium for academic exchange arises. In the meantime, thank you for your great geo info! 🙂
I think it is very cool that we can agree about the unhealthy aspects of social media (I thought TFG meant Twitter, Facebook, and Google!) and still be politically quite different.
I think you’ll be much better-off without Twitter. I’ve never joined any of them and do just fine.
I am currently reading how to make apple pie, thanks to you. It is good.
Thanks again for bringing Tinker Creek to my attention. It is the best.
I found you through “skolithos”, which litter my part of South Mountain.
I have been following you here on your blog for probably four years or so. A great job. I am glad to read today’s post. I am glad to see you are back, so to speak. Keep up the good fight. My main issue withTwitter was the pernicious way it kept everyone at the length of just a quick sound bite. The long read has disappeared even in the scientific community.
Good priorities as always!
I’ve been receiving and reading your blog ever since my non-scientific college kid took your NOVA course. He loved it. Went Liberal Arts though; History with Minor in Medieval Studies from the U of Arizona.
I also have a recent grad in Geology from U of A. He’s off to Field Study in the Dolomites this month. I have frequently forward your articles to him.
Keep up the good communications and the “Rock Solid” work you share with us. I don’t know where you might be teaching now but you really inspired my guy.
Thank you! 🙂