It’s well past time to get off Twitter. One thing that’s hard about leaving Twitter is that people look for an identical (😉) experience somewhere else on the Internet.
But there isn’t an identical experience somewhere else. That’s a good thing. The experience you’re having right now is bad. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for the world. That’s why you’re leaving. If you wanted identical, you’d stay.
It’s also part of the language of addiction — setting preconditions before you’ll take action to get sober. We say, I’ll quit when another service exists with great hashtag search. I’ll quit when I can follow Elizabeth Warren somewhere else. I’ll quit when the Mastodon file upload can handle SVG files properly. If, when, and unless are all ways of saying never.
So, here’s my guide to quitting Twitter. You can do it right now, and it will be over in about 15 minutes. It doesn’t hurt and it’s not irreversible.
- Delete the Twitter app. First thing to do is delete the app. Everything after this should be done through your browser. This will slow you down and keep you from getting distracted.
- Request a download. You can download all your stuff from Twitter. There doesn’t seem to be a lot you can do with it, but it’s good to have. Note that you shouldn’t wait to receive it before you continue with the next steps.
- Get a blog. If you don’t have one already, you can get a WordPress blog in 5 minutes. You don’t have to post anything.
- Connect your blog to Twitter. You can set up your blog to post to Twitter. This will let people on Twitter continue to follow you.
- Set your URL in your Twitter bio to your blog. So people can find you.
- Make a Tweet about leaving. Don’t say anything you’ll regret later. Include your blog address. Pin it to your account.
- Log out. In your browser, log out of your Twitter account. This will make it harder to take little peeks later.
- Install a news app. Depending on the kind of news you like. I recommend something calm and neutral, like public radio apps from NPR, CBC, or BBC. Techmeme is good for tech news. Reddit is fine, but definitely has its own issues.
- Don’t go back. This is the hardest part! Removing the app and logging out of the web interface help a lot. But you need to substitute other experiences for using Twitter:
- If you have something to share, say it on your blog. You can post photos or videos or links or whatever. It doesn’t have to be an essay; you can write Tweet-sized blog posts. It’s your blog! You make the rules.
- If you want to know what’s going on in the world, read your news site. If you have comments on some news item, write about it on your blog.
- If you want to connect, send an email, text message, or whatever. Set up a group chat.
That’s about it. The first few days are the hardest; you have to unlearn the habits of years. And you’ve been using a program that was literally designed to make you addicted, so it’s going to feel hard to stop. But you can do it!
And you’ll feel better. You’ll be making the Internet and the world a better place. You’ll be doing wonders for your mental health.
Note that I’m not asking you to delete your Twitter account. Keep your friends informed by automatically sharing your blog posts. If at some point you want to be out of the Discourse on Twitter, switch your account to private.
Good luck and thanks!