Kin Lane

Twitter Is The Most Painful Platform For Me

I love / hate Twitter. I have been on since the early days. They have been the center piece of my career as the API Evangelist over a decade, as a representation of both the good and the bad. I still feel that they are one of the most important APIs out there, for both good and for bad reasons. I still enjoy using Twitter, mostly via the API. I still rely on Twitter traffic to keep my blogs in front of people. Facebook doesn’t bring me value, and has betrayed my trust. Twitter brings me value, and has betrayed my trust. This leaves me in a tricky position. Like Facebook I will be maintaining my Twitter presence, but I will still be actively using as a broadcast tool for driving traffic to my blogs, which I generate revenue from.

Twitter can be a very toxic platform. What often makes me sadder that it is also an API amplified toxic platform. I still see signs of the fun Twitter from time to time. I still get a lot of exposure via Twitter. However, watching how it is being used by politicians, businesses, and the worst of the worst in our world, often leaves me reluctant to be there. Like Facebook, I try to minimize my exposure to the platform, keeping visits down to once or twice a day at the most, and only for a few minutes at a time. Occasionally I will do research via Twitter, and harvest data via the API, requiring me to read a lot of Tweets, but I’m not caught up in the daily moment of the social media platform.

I feel like the noise of the “NOW” is Twitter’s most valuable tool / weapon. It is how you get your message out in front of people, something that can also easily be weaponized. I feel like the most damaging effects of this is you end up living in the “NOW”, and you lose touch with everything else. After spending almost six months off Twitter recently, then getting back on, I can vouch that I did not miss out on anything critical. News can slip by and I’m ok. I can miss the latest launch of a startup, and I’m ok. I feel like I actually have a better grasp on where things are with the industries I pay attention to, by not living in the “NOW”. After coming back, Twitter (and other social media) feel like you are in a snow globe to me. A snow globe that is being shaken every couple minutes, constantly distracting you, capturing your attention, but also locking you into a very narrow bubble of the world–this is by design.

I feel like I was more easily manipulated when I live in the “NOW”. I felt more disconnected, and easily angered. I now see this is by design. I was more easily tricked into staying online, engaging in conversation and sharing, and generating data when I’m kept in this sustained digital “NOW”. Having stepped away, I can more easily see Twitter for what it is. It has been painful for me to reconcile with my past history of evangelizing Twitter, and it’s API. I was wrong. I contributed to the train wreck we are witnessing today. I fought to keep the API accessible—-resulting in the easier weaponization and amplification of certain messages. I won’t be evangelizing for Twitter anymore. I will still be benefiting from it’s network effects. I will be broadcasting my message there, and maintaining my presence. I will be doing all of this reluctantly. With heavy and regular scrutiny. I’m cautiously maintaining my relationship with Twitter, and keeping a close eye on where they go next, and what decisions they make. Like Facebook, I do not hold out much hope for positive change.

I know many folks consider Facebook their primary social platform. I consider Twitter my primary, and Facebook a secondary. Twitter has meant the most for my career. I’ve had a more intimate relationship with Twitter, not just using their applications, but also building my own applications. I never quite got to the same level of intimacy with Facebook and their API. Twitter is definitely the platform I struggle with the most when it comes to maintaining my digital self. However, I think my struggle with Twitter will continue to inform the decisions I make when it comes to other platforms. I’ve learned a lot from using Twitter. Twitter has helped me get to where I am today, good and bad. I’ve learned a lot of lessons by being burned by Twitter. Lessons I will not forget as I work to take control over my digital self, not stepping away from web technology, but insisting that it works for me, not the other way around.