I deleted my Twitter account after 12 years—and it felt great.
Twitter has been an essential gateway for me into journalism. I remember that back in the day, it used to be a common thing to network: «Hey, I'm Janosch, we follow each other.» The platform has also been a reliable news feed, carefully curated by following established journalists and sources from around the globe.
But no more.
While Elon Musk continues displaying examples of terrible leadership, peddling conspiracy theories, and enabling more and more extremist views and hate speech, it's time to leave. There's less value found on this platform, now called X, after the worst rebranding in recent history, and therefore even fewer reasons to justify staying.
Deleting my Twitter account prompted me to reflect on my relationship and history with social media platforms. Broadly, I can identify three distinct stages.
Stage I – Experiments
It started in the messy days of the internet with decoupled experiences from Habbo Hotel and MSN Messenger to gaming-related apps like Xfire, TeamSpeak, and forums. The first service I used resembling today's platforms was Netlog, soon consumed by the growing giant Facebook.
Those years, probably the first decade of the 21st century, were exciting. Driven by curiosity and definitely a healthy portion of naïvety, I dove into every possible network.
Data security concerns? Just didn't exist. Oversharing? Constantly.
Stage II – Purpose
Later, as a young journalist, social media platforms played a significant role. They were a necessary tool for sourcing and telling stories.
My accounts mostly became professional tools rather than personal spaces, and for the most part, I curated content carefully. They also became more of a broadcasting channel than a place for discussion.
Stage III – Exhaustion
Fast-forward a couple of years to 2023. My circumstances have changed: No longer working in the media industry, the big social media platforms are no longer necessary to thrive.
And I feel exhausted.
My Facebook feed is a neverending stream of stupid jokes, and LinkedIn's algorithm boosts fake hustle gurus. Today, I hardly find any joy in Instagram anymore. I mostly use it to send silly Reels to a handful of friends and post for my music blog, Negative White.
Mastodon, where I had an account since 2016, isn't my cup of tea. I deleted TikTok and BeReal again.
Just YouTube has always been a constant; however, it's not a social experience to me but an entertainment and learning platform. And now, with Twitter done and dusted, maybe Bluesky will create a new news feed for me.
What defines a social media experience? Is it simply the digital extension of an analogue relationship or the random connection with strangers?
For a long time, there was this fear of missing out. You know the drill: You're missing out if you're not on Facebook. If you're not on Instagram, you're missing out.
Today, I hardly find any clear value in social media platforms. Using them gets more and more exhausting and too time-consuming for little reward. Did they change, or did I?
My digital social life has mostly returned to where it started: A handful of group chats on different messengers and a few Slack and Discord servers.
Charlie Warzel wrote it best in «The Atlantic»:
The internet has never felt more dense, yet there seem to be fewer reliable avenues to find a signal in all the noise. One-stop information destinations such as Facebook or Twitter are a thing of the past. The global town square—once the aspirational destination that social media platforms would offer to all of us—lies in ruins, its architecture choked by the vines and tangled vegetation of a wild informational jungle. This may be for the best in the long run, although the immediate effect for those of us still glued to these ailing platforms is one of complete chaos.