A Word About Theatrical ‘I’m Leaving Twitter’ Announcements

(Joan Marcus/Head Over Heels via AP)

Not long after it became official that Tesla CEO Elon Musk was going to be taking over Twitter, there were numerous high-profile tweeters, mostly on the left, who vowed to leave over fears that Musk was not going to be so heavy-handed with the ban/suspend hammer and would instead allow debate to be more free-flowing while not penalizing people for mere political disagreement.

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Here we are a year later, and while it's debatable as to whether or not Musk has lived up to his promises on that front, what's not debatable in my opinion is that most users who at some point declared they were headed for the exits actually didn't. And the ones who did, well let's just say that they are not missed.

Something else that I think most people could agree on is that theatrical announcements of so-called Twitter exits are, well, 50 shades of boring, not to mention unnecessary.

Take, for instance, purported conservative commentator David French, who told his followers Friday that he was leaving Twitter and explained his position ... in a five-tweet thread:

I'm leaving Twitter, for the indefinite future. The reason is simple: this site is becoming more like Gab every day. It's a font of hatred, lies, and harassment. And while it's never been great, at least it had its uses. No longer. At least not for me. /1

The constant hatred and malice on this site is bad for the soul. The tsunami of lies and misinformation is bad for the mind. There was a time when Twitter still gave me some value. It helped me find some of the smartest and wisest voices in public life. /2

But now it repeatedly boosts the worst and most thoughtless. I just can't stay here in good conscience. I don't begrudge anyone staying. People can certainly draw different lines, and I will miss Grizzlies twitter, but . . . /3

Real-time news is actually better reported and more accurate on news sites, Twitter is utterly irrelevant to promoting my pieces (typically fewer than one percent of readers come through Twitter), and most of the people I respect are also on other sites. /4 

I'm not off social media. You can follow me at Threads, which has better tools for managing trolls, and I've had great fun interacting with readers, including responding to thoughtful critiques. If you want to keep following me, please join me there. /end

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In other words, David French wants to scoot off to an echo chamber where he can mute/block actual conservatives who passionately disagree with him/call him out while he amplifies those who shower him with praise.  That's so stunningly brave that I almost let a tear trickle down my face.

Then there was Adam Kinzinger, who tweeted on Saturday that he was "mentally preparing" for his Twitter exit:

I mean "mentally prepare" to leave Twitter? Does that involve some type of weird training regimen? Who even does that? Twitter addicts like Kinzinger, I guess.

I've been on Twitter for a long time. Too long, to be quite honest.  For several years early on, I was a prolific Twitter user and I would get into some pretty heated back-and-forths with people. But fortunately, I grew out of it and finally figured out it was not worth my time to try and get the last word with my opponent.  Life is just too short for keyboard warrioring.

If I didn't need it for my line of work, I'd be on it even less than I am now. But I've learned to keep the arguing to a minimum there and just mute/block people who I conclude are deliberately not approaching me in good faith who usually proceed to prove my point. That makes things a lot easier to tolerate.

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I get that having civil debate/disagreement on Twitter is pretty much impossible because most of the people who engage in the exchanges are dug in, but then again most social media sites are like that, as "journalists" who left Twitter for sites like Mastodon after Musk's reign began found out the hard way

On any given day when a person logs on to social media, at some point they are likely going to get treated to a bowl of dumb. It's just the way it is. But almost every one of them has mechanisms in place where people can customize their content and who interacts with them, and Twitter is no different from all the rest in that regard.

This isn't so much a defense of Twitter but rather a criticism of people whose sole purpose in using it is for drama queening, showboating, trolling, and/or playing the victim.

I don't blame anyone for either not wanting to start a Twitter account or who has decided to leave it for whatever reasons. What I do wish, though, is that when people decide to do it they leave the drama at the door and just tell people, hey, this is where I'll be now. See ya. And then save the theatrics for the audience they cultivate at the new place.

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In other words, when you say you're going to leave, be brief about it and then... just leave.

Is that really too much to ask?

Flashback: Wellness Check on NYT’s David Brooks After Tweet on Airport Meal Goes Viral for the Wrong Reasons

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