• Daniel Vollaro

Goodbye Twitter

Well, it's finally here: the day I dump Twitter (again, and this time for good). Twitter----like the psychotic, toxic, thrill-ride lover it is----won't miss me when I'm gone. I have garnered a pitiful 184 followers in this, my second try at learning to love Twitter, so I am little more than a digital gnat in this vast ecosystem of egotists, pontificators, humblebraggers, trolls, doxers, poseurs, obsessives, procrastinators, keyboard warriors, sociopaths, oversharers, hypochondriacs, incels, fangirls, haters, and lonely hearts.


My final act on Twitter was to observe that "Shrimp meat" liked two of my tweets. Thank you for that, whoever you are. As I was waving goodbye to my notifications, I could also see that another unknown-to-me entity that may or may not be an actual female had made a message request, another sexbot from the Twittermurk in low-cut glamour shot and lips puffed up with collagen trying to make my acquaintance.


Some tell me that Twitter is a more rewarding experience if you really work at it---try to gain more followers, build a following----but I am skeptical. I think I've seen enough of Twitter to know its heart. Another five years won't make me see the light. I've tried to understand Twitter, down in its soul, but I've sadly discovered a vast emptiness where a soul should be.


Truthfully, I don't want to follow or be followed by anyone. "Friend," maybe. "Connect," yes. But "follow" is a verb fraught with bad energy. Pedophiles and creeps and psychotic ex-boyfriends follow. So do sycophants and fanboys and that uncle who is always burning you disks from his favorite Phish shows in the 90s. Following is something done from a distance and almost always from inside that weird liminal space where people cannot or will not actually connect with one another. To follow someone is to stalk them, admire (or hate) them from afar. This is even true of following our genuine fleshworld friends and acquaintances. By following them, we are doing something less than connecting with them.


Following people on Twitter always felt like a form of lurking in the shadows, like Deep Throat hiding behind a cement pillar down in that parking garage. And maybe that down-in-the-dungeon quality of Twitter explains why conspiracies and conspiracy theorists thrive there. So many places to hide in that algorithmically generated maze.


I tried to follow famous smart people on Twitter, but the experience was always a huge letdown because along with occasional nuggets of wisdom and truth, I was also exposed to a steady stream of banality from them. If Einstein were on Twitter, we would get the Theory of Relativity, but we would also get his musings on wool socks and his pet peeves about people who listen to EDM and his dumb jokes about black holes----the whole grungy, disheveled, and ultimately disappointing reality of the man.


And that's the awful thing about Twitter. Everyone is trying too hard, and that desperate performance energy is exhausting for everyone.


There is a lot to hate about Twitter, but one of its worst aspects is the insidious way in which it enables oversharing. Everyone performs on Twitter, but some people are performing their self-loathing, mental illness, and psychological self-destruction for the whole world to see, and there are no referees to step in to prevent it. The most wincing moments on Twitter for me came from reading tweets from people who were clearly in psychological distress but using Twitter as a form of self-medication. How do you gently urge those people to get off Twitter and seek help ... while on Twitter? I never figured it out.


I laugh mockingly now when I hear people say that Twitter is the town square, or should be. The new owner of Twitter, rocket engineer and libertarian blowhard Elon Musk, harbors these delusions, but he will soon discover what I already know, that Twitter is more like that abandoned lot on the edge of town where kids go to drink, smash beer bottles, light stuff on fire, and pound on pieces of scrap metal with sledgehammers.


So goodbye Elon, and good luck with it. Goodbye Twitter. I'd say 'thank you for the memories,' but I've downloaded them all into an archive file for future reference. I suspect that when I finally open that file someday, I will discover that you did not bring out the best in me.