reasons to stay on Twitter

inspired by @fet

1. It is fun (-ish) to keep fiddling with ways to hack it into being non-shitty. I like toy systems, and Twitter is endlessly fiddle-with-able. Right now I have no less than four Chrome extensions and three IFTTT applets gerrymandering Twitter’s UI. To what end? Ostensibly, so I can interact with Twitter sans notifications and follower counts, promoted/trending tweets, other people’s Likes, etc. But once all this fiddling “succeeds,” I don’t feel relief. I feel vaguely disappointed. Because now all that’s left to do is…interact with Twitter. And why am I doing that, again…?

2. Straight up FOMO. Once I realized that only a certain kind of thing ever showed up in my Facebook and Instagram feeds—throwaway personal updates and throwaway visuals—it became easier to delete those accounts, because it became easier to imagine not missing those things. But Twitter can be anything. Links. Gifs. Pictures. Videos. Memes. Threads. Debates. Gossip. News. And not just content. Unpredictable forms emerge and get doodled-with on Twitter. I’m helplessly fascinated by what Robin Sloan calls “media inventing”, and people who do that kind of thing share it on Twitter. WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING AWESOME/INSPIRING/IMPORTANT!?!!1

3. Professional visibility/staving off impostor syndrome. Twitter is LinkedIn for media/journalism pros, and I am one of those. Ostensibly. No, I am. I have many fancy bylines and credits. Right? {sigh.} I’ve been doing this for over ten years and yet I still feel compelled to continuously prove that I’m “for real”. Being active “on Twitter” feels like a necessary part of that performance. Maybe it’s because I’ve been freelance for so long. I’m always worried about suddenly ceasing-to-exist w/r/t peers and potential clients. If I’m not “on Twitter”… how would it look?

4. It’s fun to put messages into bottles and throw them in the ocean. For some reason, I have accumulated about 5000 followers. I have no idea who these people are or why they’re following me. I guess because, at the very least, they decided that they’re not opposed to having unsolicited content-flotsam from me occasionally wash up on their attentional beaches, like the Fedex boxes in Cast Away. This is a weirdly appealing kind of weak tie that I enjoy playing with. (See also.) I know almost nobody—in fact, very probably nobody—will notice or care when I drop an artsy photo into my Twitter feed. But because of that 5000-ish number, it’s possible that somebody might. And very occasionally, I do get a blip of response. So while it’s not like broadcasting to a real audience, it’s not just talking to Wilson, either.