The One Good Reason To Leave Twitter

I left Twitter and I am not alone. Twitter is on retreat. More and more people are leaving, preferring to use other social networks instead. But, except for a few interactions, my experience with Twitter was not toxic, as many would describe theirs. I never had a lot of followers or a viral post. Maybe that's why, overall, my interactions within the platform were positive.

Still, I left Twitter, and the reason has nothing to do with Elon trying to change its name and business model, or how it is a platform for the terrible left, or the way it gives a voice to the terrifying right. It's something way simpler and yet more important: it's about my leisure time, and how I want to spend it.

Chopped-up time

The one good reason to ditch Twitter is that it's a perpetual distraction machine: better than nothing, but not actually fun. True, my feed was mildly interesting, so I spent a lot of time there. I learned about a lot of new topics but had little time to get deeper into any of them. I kept adding more bookmarks to my already overflowed "to read" list faster than I could read them. Some days I added over 10 bookmarks and read none at all. Learning a new bit of chopped-up information was more exciting than reading a difficult article that was shared on a tweet last week, even if less rewarding in the end.

I was having fun while learning these bits of information, but they had little connection to the body of knowledge already in my brain. In computer jargon, they were orphaned nodes: elements in a network that do not have any connections with other nodes. They were not information, but trivia, for which I had no good use.

Even when following people in technology, my area of expertise, there's too much going on at once. When the tweets were interesting, I found that I needed more depth. Usually, they were not, but I could just keep scrolling so I could get a higher payoff down the road when I found something better.

The recent increase in the tweet character limit for premium users doesn't address this issue. It's nice not to be constrained to bit-sized information, but reading an article on an average website -even one built 15 years ago with WordPress- will always beat the experience of reading an article-length tweet.

Just think of what you are missing when reading a long tweet instead of a blog post:

  • Harder to share. When I share an article, I never want to share the comments. And half of the links direct to a log-in page.
  • Fewer accessibility options, compared to a web browser.
  • Harder to navigate. In the app, there are no features like "search", so it's harder to move around long articles.

If you tweet regularly, you should have a blog too. A small piece of the internet you claim for yourself where everyone interested in your ideas can always find you. It's better for you and your readers, and it is easy to set up.

Learning just in case

I learned a lot of stuff directly or indirectly from Twitter, but that's far from a good argument to justify its use. The kind of learning that happens with Twitter is just-in-case (JIC) learning. You do learn stuff, but it's not immediately useful. If you don't apply what you learn, you are far more likely to forget it. If what you learn on Twitter is so useful, how come you hardly remember any tweets from a month ago?

Contrast this with just-in-time (JIT) learning. You have a goal to accomplish, so you look for the best way to do it. You get information related to your goal. You immediately apply what you learn to achieve your objective. Finally, the information is cemented in your mind, molded by your hands-on experience. This is the kind of knowledge you should seek.

With JIC learning, you need information before tackling the problem. I often find many people today think they need some particular kind of information, and often a certification, before taking a stab at a problem. For example, many believe that they need a bootcamp to learn to code properly, that they couldn't possibly learn better by themselves.

I blame this dependency on courses on the school system. Students are used to getting the information before they start working on a problem, not the other way around. I remember when I was in high school and the class was asked to work on a problem for which we had no background. We all panicked a bit, fearing that we had failed to learn the required material. And then the teacher said: "I just remembered I forgot to teach you about geometric series". No one embraced the challenge of thinking about the problem for a bit. No one thought we could find out something new about how things worked.

Another belief instilled by the school system is that all learning is important, but that's just not true. Trivia is not as important as learning the kind of information and skills that will help you achieve your goals. For most, knowing that mitochondria generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell's biochemical reactions is worthless. Learning to code can be life-changing.

JIT learning gives you the freedom to choose the problem you tackle. If you don't have all the information right now, you can get it later. Or you can choose another approach like applying your current skills to solve the problem. For example, if you want to create a website for your lemonade stand, you can go and learn to code, or you can use a website builder app, or you can hire someone to do it for you and focus on marketing. While the whole education system focuses on JIC learning, we should foment JIT learning and spend more time in front of real problems.

And for all I learned on Twitter, I could have also learned a lot without it. The countless hours spent on Twitter debating over small stuff have a high opportunity cost. I could have read more books, watched more movies, or traveled to new exciting places.

Missing out

Without Twitter, you will miss some of the stuff that's going on, but that's a feature, not a bug. Most of what you read in the news is irrelevant, depressing, misleading, or useless. And it takes your focus away from things more relevant to your life.

After leaving Twitter, I noticed that my FOMO (fear of missing out) had almost disappeared. It's paradoxical: the more news you consume, the more you feel like you aren't getting enough. And, let's face it, it's impossible to catch up on everything that's going on.

If you do need to stay updated with the events in a particular area, there are better ways to do it, like specialized magazines and news aggregators. I work in technology so I often use hackernews, that links to multiple magazines, blogs, and platforms.


Some argue that they have met business partners and good friends on Twitter. And there are some Twitter communities, like FinTwit and Indie Hackers, that have thrived on it. People have met each other, learned together, and debated important topics in public for the whole world to see. As a consumer of this content, it has been fun to watch.

But the community-building aspect of Twitter is lacking. Compared to say, reddit, where it's easy to find groups of like-minded people, Twitter is a mess. One tweet about the war in Ukraine, another one about the latest JavaScript framework, and then a funny meme. And while it's true that Twitter, even before the Elon era, has been trying to address this issue with "topics", people don't use the app that way.

Twitter is not an app to build communities. It doesn't have the features for that. There is no way to moderate content, to punish bad actors, or to properly discuss topics. Even today, the UI is messy and the tweet hierarchy is not clear. For example, when you click on a tweet and scroll down, it's not clear that you are seeing replies to the tweet and not your feed.

Even if it's true that some make connections on Twitter, it's still not the best option. For every good comment on your tweet, you get a lot of negative noise: the guy who just wants to contradict you, the one who asks you about a completely different topic, or the one who just wants to promote the latest crypto scam. It's hard to have meaningful interactions with so much noise. Compare this to having your own blog with an email where people can reach out.

Another factor that community-builders should take into account is that much of Twitter has been closed to the outside internet. If you click a link to a tweet, you will now only get the original tweet, without comments, and you will be prompted to create an account anywhere you click. And it can get worse. Just look at Medium, where you cannot read a full article without logging in. If you want people to find you and learn about your ideas, why make it harder for them?

Alternatives to Twitter

I am not looking for any. Mastodon addresses some of the issues, but it still has some of its own. What works for me is the good old RSS reader. With it, I can see when people I find interesting -and who are kind enough to put up a website for me to read- have something new to share.

To me, Twitter was a seductive time-killer. But apps like Twitter give you too much homework; too many avenues of interest to pursue that take your focus away from your actual goals, too much noise and little signal. And I would have the same issue with any other similar alternative. Better to be a bit bored.


  1. I didn't even mention the bots.

  2. The one good use for Twitter is watching memes related to something that just happened.