comment by mike_hawke ·
2020-12-30T17:22:36.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I have a strong anti-Twitter attitude. I will now charge rent from this attitude in the form of anticipated experiences.
Twitter is psychotoxic. That is to say, it has a negative influence on one’s mood, habits, personality, reasoning ability, and so on. Using twitter causes people to practice mental behaviors that are corrosive to clear thinking and agency both immediately and longer-term. The easy availability of bite-sized content is eroding people's ability to read longer-form content like blog sequences or books. Twitter deserves the same condemnation that the 24h news cycle gets and much more. I believe that if far fewer people used Twitter, my life would be noticeably better.
I feel my attention being tugged at by the Twitterverse even when I have been away from it for a long time (weeks or longer). This is in part a sensible worry--Twitter does have noticeable effects on the world, and I wish I could do something.
This is a hackneyed pattern, but: Twitter is the 21st century’s tobacco. It is an addictive, next-gen intoxicant.
On a podcast, I heard some guy recommend that you “don’t let Twitter be the background music of your life. When you’re hanging out with your friend, don’t browse twitter while they’re in the bathroom.” I didn’t realize people did that. I think I need to start asking my friends if they are doing this when we hang out, and trying to get them to stop.
The full effects of twitter on individuals and groups is still an open question, slowly being answered by massive, natural experiments.
In a heathy* future, people will consider the comparison between tobacco and twitter to be basically correct, if somewhat hasty and superficial. We will look back on the present state of affairs with pity, embarrassment, and a bit of queasiness.
The Internet Research Agency was just the beginning and we will hear of ever more numerous and galling examples of social media used to twist people’s minds. In less than 20 years, the dev race between offensive psyops and defensive countermeasures will be well-known, not niche knowledge.
Paul Cristiano has imagined a future in which information from the internet is scrutinized by an AI for harmful/manipulative information before being shown to a user. I strongly anticipate that considerations of this kind will be much more mainstream within the next 20 years. If we are not able to implement direct solutions with AI, I expect that serious, tech-savvy people will cobble together other tools and systems for a partial solution.
Perhaps in the near future, heavy twitter usage will be generally seen as a yellow or orange flag. Consider the thoughts you have when you notice that someone has at least 2 drinks every night, or can’t go a day without a liter of soda, or spends all their time online and never socializes in person (yeah, excluding pandemic conditions, smartass).
“Digital Minimalism” and “attention rebellion” will catch on (the situation is currently so dire that i would be pretty surprised if they don’t) and tech companies will react by trying to build things that people will pay to integrate into their attention-prioritizing lifestyle.
In summary: Twitter is awful and I will be at least moderately surprised if in 15 years it is normal for smart people to endorse having used it today.
*I hate this word. I’m using it here only out of mental sloth and weakness.
Replies from: mr-hire, gworley
↑ comment by Matt Goldenberg (mr-hire) ·
2021-01-02T19:26:42.563Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I get a lot from twitter, including several great relationships, thousands of dollars in sales, and a steady stream of new ideas. I'd venture that there are good and bad ways to use twitter like there are good and bad ways to use nicotine.
↑ comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) ·
2020-12-31T02:12:12.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
This is also my experience of Twitter. Strangely it's not how I experience Facebook, which I like and find I feel better after checking in on my friends, but I know plenty of people seem to have the same reaction to Facebook you and I have to Twitter.Replies from: Viliam
↑ comment by Viliam ·
2021-01-02T19:05:42.336Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I don't use Twitter, so I can't make a comparison, but how difficult it is to create your own bubble?
My guess would be that being okay with Facebook is related to how strong your bubble is. At least in my experience, I mostly get angry when I get a view outside my bubble. The insanity of average internet user (weighted by how much they write online) is terrifying.