For the first time in months, I’m taking a break in visiting Twitter as my primary source for daily news. Twitter is ever-more a source of stress, both personally and professionally, and I can no longer defend its turn-the-other-cheek policy toward harassment and abuse. I don’t mean to pile on the broader internet’s dilemma of harassment on Twitter alone—it’s still my favorite social network by a long shot. Like most daily users of Twitter, I desperately needed a bunch of Kurtis Blow-style breaks.
I’m in a minority of people who use Twitter as much as I do. My habit puts me in a minority of surveyed news readers on social media in the US. According to Pew Research Center, an estimated nine percent of Americans said they got news from Twitter in 2016. I’d like to call bullshit on that super low number—my confirmation bias within the information bubble I live in urges me to think that it’s qualitatively unfair to measure Twitter’s influence on the news cycle from this number alone. Even if I account, in my information bubble sort of way, the general ripple effect breaking news on Twitter has for the rest of the web, I am still in the minority of people who attempts to wade deeply enough into it to watch the rocks hit the water’s surface in the first place.
If, like me, you are exhausted from the fighting, might I suggest logging off? It’s only been a couple of days and all the hours I’ve saved by not following the latest problematic scenario up for debate have been directly invested in my friends, family, and … huh… would you look at that. It turns out all the time I thought I was spending keeping up with society was keeping me from investing in my community. The thought that Twitter is taking time away from community activism is unexplored territory for me, and I’m in awe of the brave people who continue to fight for equality and the recognition of disenfranchised voices online. It is worth reconsidering if social media is truly investing in those voices or just giving us all a space to waste time defending ourselves from harassment and hate.