I have been thinking about it for years.
I used to be a Twitter superuser, tweeting multiple times per day, interacting with both close friends and complete strangers, using it as a place to get both information and laughs, and everything in between.
In recent years, though, it stopped being fun. There are a multitude of reasons for that. The vitriol. The anger. The constant arguing over race, politics, and culture. The bad began outweighing the good.
For several years now I had been flirting with the idea of walking away. The trending topics are so often toxic. Whenever I read the replies to a tweet I immediately regret it. Moreover, I noticed that my writing was getting hardly any engagement. The one reason (I thought) I was using it was even debunked by data. Then, with the change in the site’s ownership, it seemed like the perfect moment.
So, on Saturday morning I took one final scroll through the app and felt great. I was done. Or so I thought.
Ironically, I couldn’t deactivate my account because I forgot my password. So I had to go through the trouble of creating a new one for the sole reason to be able to delete it. I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
A few years ago, Twitter flipped its timeline to bring you “top tweets,” rather than just those from accounts you follow. I hated this feature. I followed (or didn’t follow) accounts for a reason. However, once I logged in with my new password, it automatically opened not in the app but in the web browser, where my settings were not saved.
The first tweet at the top of screen? It was from new Twitter owner Elon Musk, whom I do not follow, tweeting about the $8 monthly subscription that will include a verified checkmark.
This felt like a sign.
Musk overpaid horrifically for Twitter, to the point that it has been called “one of the most overpaid tech acquisitions in history,” and will take it private, so I understand that he needs to turn a profit quickly.
But I don’t need to stick around for it.
It was so fun in the beginning.
For a long time, Twitter was my favorite social media site by far. It felt like a place where we could be free. Facebook was the site where your high school classmates and parents commented on everything. It was real life. Twitter was the place where you could let loose or even reinvent yourself. Twitter was like being away at college while Facebook was like being home on winter break.
Best of all, Twitter was a place where anyone could interact with anyone else. In the beginning, there was no hierarchy and replies had not yet become such cesspools that most people didn’t even look at them. You could write something to someone famous and there was a more than decent chance that they would read it. That was unfathomable even a few years before. I wasn’t a star fucker, but I dabbled when the mood struck and I’d be lying if I said it weren’t a thrill to receive replies from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel and Kevin Smith, joke with Joe Buck about the Randy Moss fake mooning, discuss overlooked films with Brian Koppelman, trade Rakim lyrics with Ta-Nehisi Coates, and get published in various publications for my annual reminder of Adam Pally and Ben Schwartz’s hosting of The Late Late Show.
Unfortunately, it’s not like that anymore.
Politics. LeBron vs. Jordan. Social issues. Zack Snyder. Whatever the topic, there is an argument, perfectly encapsulated by that meme about mangoes and oranges. There is also the fact of people being suspended for mocking the new owner.
In March 2022, Musk tweeted that “Twitter serves as the de facto public town square.” However, a town square is supposed to be a welcoming place to everyone in the community. Twitter has become the exact opposite of that, in that “a town square that is a free-speech free-for-all risks becoming the kind of place that few people want to visit.”
In other words, if I lived in a place where this was the town square I would move.
So that’s exactly what I did.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Follow him on Facebook, but not Twitter.