In the latest episode of his Team Human podcast, my friend Douglas Rushkoff delivered a powerful monologue about why he's leaving Xitter, and quite possibly all social media. He argues that the frictionless, poorly moderated nature of these spaces leads to extremist oversimplification of complex issues, detachment from reality, and the decay of human values. Twitter's inability to hold nuanced discussions about global crises, as evidenced by debates about the Middle East crisis, leads to unhelpful and divisive arguments over which "side" deserves more sympathy.
He also believes that social media is an inappropriate venue for professional writers and journalists, and its amateur roots have been overrun. Engaging on these platforms compromises one's humanity and sanity, and he believes that effecting change is better accomplished through real-world connection.
You can also read a transcript on Douglas's Substack.
And Twitter has no tolerance for that ambiguity. It's missing the moderated, the emotional, the poetic…the whole human experience. And when I look at how the platform, and ones like it, are being used to deliberate the Middle East? I mean, talk about wrong tool for the wrong job. And it all made sense to me when I was on the platform (mainly to post a link about last week's episode. Publicity!) when I saw a tweeted image of a dead baby, followed by a long argument. And down in the argument, someone finally asks "Wait a minute. Is that a Palestinian baby or an Israeli baby?" He had to know which kind of baby it was so he knew how to feel about it. (He made it clear he only cared about the babies on one side.) And I've been upset about a lot of things lately, but the inhumanity in people's responses to horror has been overwhelming. And I just cried.
And I realized, this is just not good for me. And I had already sworn off this stuff years ago. I left Facebook rather publicly back in 2013. So now, no. I'm definitely fully leaving X. And social media. I'll still use the net and human-moderated bulletin boards — Discord, MetaFilter, Reddit, The Well — and maybe I'll see if the federated spaces like Mastodon and BlueSky work better. But X? I'm definitely done.
(I haven't quite left Xitter myself, but I've gone dark on it. I locked down my account over a year ago, deleted all my posts, likes, and retweets, and I no longer post on it. I would delete my account, but I don't want somebody else taking my username there.)