Cheri's Hypertext Monster

22 Jun 2021

25 Days of Quitting Twitter

A journal, presented in its original form.

June 1, 2021

I quit Twitter four days ago. The sun is out, and we drank cappuccinos at a cafe. My latte was unexpectedly beautiful, with swirly floral patterns in the foam. I almost took a photo before I remembered there was no need. Twitter liked my coffee photos but likes are something I no longer collect.

I admired the coffee and drank it.

Across the table, my husband looked nauseated. I asked him what was wrong. Twitter had just shown him a video of a man slitting his own throat.

June 8, 2021

My mind feels clear today. The buzzy, twitchy, anxious feeling I’ve been living with is gone. My fingers keep trying to open Twitter without my conscious consent. I blocked the URLs so I keep seeing the same page: SITE NOT FOUND. SITE NOT FOUND. SITE NOT FOUND. Have I been conditioned like one of Pavlov’s famous dogs?

Woof woof, motherfucker.

Woof woof.

June 10, 2021

I used to believe I could manage Twitter to make it less distressing. But I couldn’t. On my last day – the day I found the strength to leave – I typed three characters into the search bar and a familiar name popped up. An actor I like. With total innocence, I wondered, Oh? Is he returning to Doctor Who?

I clicked.

No, he wasn’t returning to Doctor Who. The actor had been whipping his penis out on set and his name was trending. Yuck! Why did Twitter dangle that information in front of my face? I wasn’t asking for it. I wasn’t looking for it! But they’d weaponized the search bar. When I denied them my disgust, my outrage, my frustration, they found new ways to pull me in.

It’s tempting to dismiss these small moments of yuck. But the yuck is built in. Twitter is akin to a tasty meal where every so often the restaurant owner shoves a spoonful of excrement into your open mouth.

AHA! GOT YOU! Ahem… I mean… You know you can mute certain terms, right? It’s not our fault if you’re distressed.

Fool me a thousand times, shame on me?

I’m done eating Twitter’s shit.

June 13, 2021

What’s different now? More than I expected.

  • I sleep more deeply.
  • I can comfortably watch TV or read a book without looking at my phone.
  • I feel neutral most of the time. This is way better than it sounds.
  • I’ve resumed old hobbies I thought I didn’t have the energy for.
  • My mind is clear. The only thoughts in my head are the ones I consented to!
  • I no longer feel a constant creeping dread about the world. (I am still aware of the world’s problems.)
  • My attention isn’t like light scattered from a disco ball. Now it’s a flashlight. And I control my flashlight!

Still, it’s strange to be so affected by something most people see as no big deal. Did Twitter act as an addictive stimulant in my brain? Probably. There was no warning on the package. No after school special.

Just memes and clever people holding forth.

June 22, 2021

My fingers still occasionally type TW+ENTER when my mind is empty. And I wonder: How long will it take for those neural pathways to change? No matter. My URL blocks will continue to hold, and the unwanted reflex is fading away.

In five days I’ll celebrate my month of quitting with a fancy coffee drink. At no point will I see horrific images. And if a famous person is swinging their dick around like a helicopter blade, mercifully, I will not know.

Lately, I like to watch the little birds zooming around while I drink my coffee. They swoop down looking for breadcrumbs. Later, half-hidden in the leafy trees, they tweet.