I quit world-famous Twitter for a week and I didn’t miss it - GulfToday

I quit world-famous Twitter for a week and I didn’t miss it


Elon Musk. File

Gustavo Arellano, Tribune News Service

Last month, my bosses suggested I quit Twitter for a week. Completely. I would not be able to log on, let alone tweet or retweet others or check for direct messages. It might seem easy to do, gentle reader. But there are Twitter users, and then there’s me. I joined the social media platform in 2008, and it’s been one giant roll in the proverbial mud for me ever since.

I love its immediacy, its randomness, its easy interface, its chaos. For the past 15 years, Twitter has been one of the first things I check when I get up in the morning. I check it before I go to bed. I check it when I have down time. I check and check and check, even though I no longer have a blue check mark that designated me as, well, me.

My wife and my bosses keep telling me to not waste so much time tweeting — over 1,000 times in April alone. Waste of time, my behind. I’ve gained friends and followers and writing gigs — arguably, this job! — from my torrent of tweets. Great columns originated from tossed-off thoughts that went viral — the legacy of the late, legendary Mexican singer Juan Gabriel. Why In-N-Out is overrated. The importance of loquats in Southern California.

Twitter has also been a consistent digital banana peel for me. Haters of the alt-loser and wokoso persuasion have sent around out-of-context postings to try and get me in trouble. I lash out at people for free instead of channeling my ire into my columnas, which understandably annoys my jefes. App administrators suspended me twice for allegedly offensive tweets — once, for telling a guy that he had a nopal en la frente (a cactus growing on the forehead, which in Mexican Spanish means you’re a hick), and another time for making fun of a conservative activist in Orange County for the community college he attended.

Not only have I stuck around, but Twitter is now the only social media platform I consistently use, even as many of my friends have deleted their accounts because of owner Elon Musk. I stuck around because I believed the billionaire when he vowed upon purchasing the company last year to improve the user experience and take Twitter back to its roots as a worldwide town square instead of the sewer of hate and spam it has devolved into since the Trump presidency.

When I privately told my friends about my Twitter fast, they thought I was so addicted that I would buckle within hours and log back on. Shows how much they know me! There was no drama, no painful withdrawal like Ewan McGregor in “Trainspotting.” But, like all addicts, I achieved a moment of clarity: The break made me realise how inconsequential Twitter ultimately is. At its best, Twitter makes you feel connected to the world in an instantaneous way that rivals like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can’t match. Those platforms are simply too thought out, too intentional, too much hassle, when all you want to do is fire off a 140-character thought or a goofy GIF.

Twitter is all about the ramble, the random, the rants — how you talk with friends in real life. And that was the thing I quickly realised during my break: I could replicate Twitter in real life by, well, living in real life. When I had a sudden thought to share, I told it to my wife or texted it to my friends. When I wanted to know what was going on in the world, I went to the home page of this paper and our contemporaries or turned on CNN. If I wanted the latest gossip, I called up sources. Honestly, the only thing I couldn’t replicate was a five-years-and-counting thread where dozens of strangers and I exchange GIFs in a mock conversation. Instead, I texted the GIFs to my friends, who responded in kind.

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