Well-being on Twitter

— 5 minute read

I’ve hit a breaking point with Twitter again recently. I had one at a similar time last year and ended up just leaving for a while, but with the web industry being like it is, we’ve seemingly got to be here, so here’s some notes on how I am making it better for me this time around.

Muting permalink

I get really wound up about how certain areas of the web world operate and their attitudes. I’m looking specifically at the JavaScript community and the toxic, fragile masculinity that comes with it. There’s a reeking stench of entitlement and frankly, I couldn’t give a fuck what these people have to say. This is where keyword muting becomes incredibly useful.

Amongst many other keywords, I have “React”, “JavaScript”, and even “Web Components” muted. I also have various regex-based mutes in Tweetbot that stop variations of these words leaking into my timeline. In fact, I exclusively use Tweetbot to browse Twitter now. The native apps and web app are designed to make you engage and I simply don’t want to. Tweetbot gives me a chance to have a very quiet or even silent timeline.

You might think “how the heck does he keep in the loop?”. The answer to that is simple: I don’t. I literally couldn’t care less about what the React or Gatsby or other Hot Tech™ teams are doing, so I don’t want to see any of their shit on my timeline. The small elements of the JavaScript world that I am actually interested in, such as Web Components and Vue, I subscribe to relevant RSS feeds and read blogs instead.

I also mute a lot of people. And by a lot, I mean literally hundreds. Because disabling retweets and quote tweets is particularly cumbersome on both Twitter and Tweetbot, I feel like this is the most sensible strategy, aside from completely blocking or unfollowing, or both.

Unfollow, soft block and hard block permalink

I keep my follow list up to date as much as I can. I can’t stress enough that if you previously followed someone who you no longer align with (cough people that get very conservative cough), unfollow them. I understand that this could lead to confrontation—especially if they follow you, so a lesser-known method of dealing with that is soft blocking, which is when you temporarily block them. They’ll no longer follow you after that, so hopefully, you’ll just drift apart.

I also understand that there are other social constraints that can prevent this from happening, so in these cases, I strongly recommend that you mute instead. I probably have around 30% of my following list muted for this reason.

Something I don’t do nearly enough of is hard blocking. By that I mean literally blocking people. There are a few utter bellends that I simply had to block, but in real-terms, I block very few people. I do know a few people that ruthlessly block, though, and I hugely admire them for it. Your wellbeing is more important than someone who behaves in such a way that you want to block them getting upset.

Look after number one permalink

Like I said at the start of this article, we almost have to be on Twitter, so make it work for you. Don’t feel bad for unfollowing people or muting keywords—especially if they piss you off. Make it the best possible place it can be for you.

I’m taking a nuclear approach to this and relentlessly muting and blocking. My timeline is much better for it. I’m also going to stop using Twitter (apart from DMs) at the weekends.

Twitter is a habit that eventually needs to be broken completely, much like I successfully did with smoking, where now, I can happily enjoy a social smoke or two with pals without fear of falling back into the harsh depths of addiction.

Wrapping up permalink

I’m back to publishing on here first and then syndicating out. For shitposts (which we all know I like to do), I post directly on Twitter because I see them as a disposable laugh. Any content that might have any worth for people, I like to publish here first so that I own it. I also want it to last beyond the inevitable demise of Twitter.

If like me, you want to digest content in a calmer, friendlier manner, you can subscribe to my notes feed or links feed, which all ends up on Twitter. Please also feel free to mute, block and unfollow me on Twitter!!

I’ll finish up by saying that the points I mention in this article might not work for you, personally. I am an incredibly privileged person who gets a very easy ride on Twitter, so there will be biases in this post that I can’t see. I just hope that maybe some of the points in this article empower you to make the trash fire that is Twitter better for you 💖

Hi 👋, I’m Andy — an educator and web designer

I produce front-end development tutorials over at Front-End Challenges Club and Piccalilli. You can sign up for updates on Piccalilli to stay up to date with its progress.

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