Ten days without Twitter

And I don't miss it.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

On Thursday morning, the New York Times published my much-ballyhooed op-ed. The night before, I resolved not to check my Twitter notifications for the foreseeable future. At the time, I described the pause as a Twitter "detente." Ten days later, the detente is holding. I still get Twitter direct messages (DMs) from friends, which I read and respond to. And I'll click on a tweet that is embedded in a news story. I will also post links to my new content. But I do not "scroll" through my timeline. Nor do I check my "notifications." I broadcast, but do not consume. And I don't miss it.

For the past few years, my feelings on Twitter have been very mixed. I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas with a wide audience. If my tweets were retweeted, I could reach hundreds of thousands in a few moments. I also appreciated, in the abstract at least, the chance to quickly respond to others who are writing on similar areas. And Twitter direct messages was a quick and easy way to directly contact someone.

But there were significant drawbacks. Twitter creates an addictive, time-suck. I found myself spending hours every day scrolling through the timeline, constantly refreshing (swipe-down!) to see the latest tweets. And if someone responded (@'ed me), I would go back and forth countless times. Eventually, I stopped engaging with those who replied to me, but I would still those responses. Sometimes I would email the person offline to address the issue, but I would usually take no action.

On several occasions, I considered breaking up with Twitter–you should acknowledge it becomes something of a relationship. But I got cold feet. Why? I worried that I would miss something. That there would be some breaking news story that I did not catch right away. Or that there was some important exchange between professors that I should see. Or I would be out of the loop on some development. That fear is rational, but I think overstated.

Last week, I finally pulled the plug. And it feels great. I think I have regained probably 1 to 2 hours per day of time I didn't use to have. I no longer worry about the complete waste of time that are Twitter mentions. If you replied to me during the past 10 days, and think it was important, please email me. Otherwise, please presume that threads you sent my way dissolved into the ether.

What about breaking news story? Yes, staying off Twitter puts me at a disadvantage. For example on Monday, the Supreme Court issued a stay in the public charge case. I did not find out till about an hour later when it popped off my RSS feed. There was a point in my career where waiting an hour to learn about a Supreme Court stay order would been intolerable. Now? Who cares. There are reporters who are paid to follow these breaking news stories. I can get to it on my own time. And invariably, if something happens that concerns me, someone tells me. For example, a friend texted me about the 5th Circuit's en banc order in the Obamacare case.

In short, I don't miss Twitter. I am grateful for the newfound time I have reclaimed. And I don't plan to rejoin. I hope others stop chasing the tweety-bird and find much more productive ways to spend their time.

NEXT: Four Thoughts on Travel Ban 4.0

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  1. This guy.

    1. Is hilarious.

      Do older clingers watch these first few, halting steps and think ‘how cute?’

      1. We haven’t seen posting this obsessive since Professor Bernstein was hawking “Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law”

        And at least Bernstein was trying to sell something – and a whole book at that, not a 900 word screed. That was understandable; this is just strange……

        PS: Ever optimist, I’m still convinced we’re gonna see David’s sequel any day now : “Lawless: The Trump Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law” It’s gotta be at the printers by now, right?

        1. “Unprecedented Assault”

          Unprecedented. LOL.

          Are you, like, 14? And you just became aware of political stuff over the last couple of years or so?

          Because that’s the only way you could see any of this as unprecedented. Or, I suppose, you could just be a zealously partisan chucklehead. One of those two for sure.

          1. Everyone is shocked, shocked to find out US foreign policy in sending money to a hundred countries around the world is to buy acquiesence to US policy with the elites skimming off the top real western cash, as intended.

            1. Everyone was indeed shocked (shocked) to discover Trump was running a secret shadow foreign policy through his private attorney (a burnt-out sleazy husk of a man, rarely coherent) and two low-grade petty crooks.

              Everyone was even more shocked (shocked) to discover the purpose of this scam was trading the foreign policy favor of the United States for Trump’s own personal benefit.

              But you know what shocked me?

              On 24July, Robert Mueller testifies before Congress he found no evidence Trump colluded with the Russian effort to aid DJT’s election. It’s the unofficial end of the Mueller Investigation.

              On 25July, Trump attempts to extort collusion from another country to aid his reelection.

              That’s a criminal’s mind at work, right there. Just escaped from a brush with the law and he’s immediately off to the next fraud: No hesitation, no caution, no second thoughts about right or wrong.

              1. “That’s a criminal’s mind at work, right there. Just escaped from a brush with the law and he’s immediately off to the next fraud: No hesitation, no caution, no second thoughts about right or wrong.”

                And then after that, a prominent member of Trump’s party bought oppo research from a foreign national. Trump’s administration, despite knowing that most of this info was false, presented it multiple times to a secret court to get search warrants to violate the privacy of a prominent individual in the opposing party’s presidential campaign, an American citizen who had done nothing wrong.

                Oh, wait…..that was the administration prior to Trump’s. Never mind. Nothing to be shocked about there because they wear the same team jersey as you. You act like you have principles, but you don’t. You have absolutely none.

              2. “On 24July, Robert Mueller testifies before Congress he found no evidence Trump colluded with the Russian effort to aid DJT’s election.”

                That’s a Trumpian lie which has been so ubiquitously astroturfed that even Trump opponents like you have been taken in by it. Neither the Mueller Report nor Mueller personally said there was no evidence Trump colluded. They said there was insufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy.

                Other than that I co-sign your comment 100%.

        2. Heh heh. Bernstein was a loud and proud NeverTrumper during the 2016 campaign when it seemed likely Clinton would win. Then sometime around, oh, I dunno, Election Day, he became just the quietest little ol’ NeverTrumper, keeping to himself his principled concerns about Constitutional abuses. Really strange for someone who claims no loyalty to the GOP. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll rediscover his confidence if a Democrat wins in November.

          1. Prof. Bernstein’s just following the model established by the leader of this pack of movement conservative polemicists.

            All the Olin-Federalist-Koch-Heritage money in the world won’t buy character.

            #ConservativeCourage

            1. Arthur,

              I see no evidence for your assertion that EV is a movement conservative using his blog to throw red meat to the RW base. Sure, the move to Reason put an exclamation point on the comment section’s long descent into a cesspool of anti-liberal hatred. But the blogging, it seems to me, has trended the other direction.

              Before Trump, most of the conspirators served up a regular diet of anti-liberal/left/progressivism (Bernstein, Barnett, Adler, Somin, Zywicki, Kontorovich, Lindgren, Kopel, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few). Now, apart from Blackman, who’s the reliable voice for movement conservatism? Adler and Somin are #NeverTrump, and the other erstwhile Obama critics have mostly disappeared rather than re-purpose their partisan cudgels to Trump and the current GOP.

              As for your beef with EV over his ban of your redneck alter-ego, that was a long time ago when he was removing material he considered uncivil to any viewpoint. If you tell me any of the conspirators are still moderating these threads I’ll take your word for it, but if this is what they look like after moderation, wow.

              1. That should have been “re-purpose their partisan cudgels to defend Trump and the current GOP. “

              2. The more recent censorship involves prohibiting words rather than banning a participant. Not obscene words, but words that some people don’t like from a partisan perspective, such as one that rhymes with “jack-slaw” and addresses mandibular tension.

                The censorship appears to be viewpoint-driven; conservative comments are routinely using words at least as objectionable as the “jack-slaw” example.

                We don’t see as many ‘put the liberals face-down in landfills’ or ‘let’s gas all of the Democratic judges’ comments lately, but they haven’t been entirely eradicated, either.

    2. You could, you know, just not read his articles. Or not comment.

      1. Not reading his articles is becoming increasingly difficult, which is kind of the point.

        1. Not reading his articles is becoming increasingly difficult

          In a Clockwork Orange sort of way? Or did you forget how to scroll?

        2. You should ask for your money back. Oh, wait …

          1. People invest something just as valuable as money. Their time.

            I think Blackman is alright. I don’t find him annoying like Bernstein was. Others disagree. I think it is fine if they say it.

    3. You’d think you’d have some empathy for someone struggling with an addiction and encouraging others to get clean too.

      1. This kind of indulgent storytime belongs on his Livejournal.

        1. This kind of commentary belongs on… um, Twitter.

  2. The vast majority of apps are time-sucks by design. Manipulating people is easier than ever. Look at the rewards built into games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush. Dopamine for the masses.

  3. Welcome back to real life. The news isn’t important. And when it is, you find out anyway.

  4. IOW, Twitter is for the birds.

    1. Twitter is for twits!

  5. Twatter is a waste of time. Because of its Chi-Com style censorship it is nothing but a steaming pile o’ SJW crap. Don’t waste your time on it.

  6. I still like Twitter, but I can see your point about it wasting time. Sometimes.

    I think if you are selective in who you follow, it is a good source of information and perspectives.

    It sounds like you were having conversations that were not enjoyable. Don’t forget that there is a mute button and a block button. Also, maybe you should have mixed up your conversations. Like, if all you are doing is arguing, that can be stressful. But there are people who post pictures of their cats or dogs, which is just the opposite.

  7. Btw, one thing I strongly agree with. Most news is useless and unimportant. If you really want to learn something, read a book.

    1. Amen! Most “news” does little more than raise one’s blood pressure.

      If you don’t believe me, get a cuff and stop reading / watching for 1 to 2 weeks

  8. I remember vividly the last time I saw anything like this—in the 1960s. It was at an anti-war protest, staged in front of a packed audience, jammed into a university hockey rink. Somehow, a random guy from the audience got on stage, got the mic, and started rambling. For at least a few minutes, no one responded, took responsibility, or tried to do anything. It felt like forever.

    It got worse and worse, until everyone was squirming inwardly with embarrassment for the poor guy. Finally, a well-dressed older person showed up on stage, approached the mic, gently wrested it away, and announced, “My name is, (name instantly recognizable to educated people world-wide). I am a psychiatrist. This man is in need of medical help.”

    Then, to the immense relief of thousands, he carefully led the guy off stage. So at least for that night, it ended well.

    Josh, when you are conjuring memories like that one, it may be time to back off. Or, alternatively, take Vince Lombardy’s advice about celebrating success, “Act like you have done it before.”

  9. much-ballyhooed

  10. NOthing worth-the-while can be said in 142 characters. Twittering is only virtue signaling to other twitters, one’s value circle. What external extrinsic value is there in 142 characters?

    1. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

      1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        1. Oh 142 letters, not words. Well, I don’t have Twitter, what do you want?

      2. donojack that is 144 characters. I think.

        1. Yeah but there are a couple of superfluous commas that can be deleted.

  11. I went cold turkey and deleted my Facebook account back in August, and the thing that surprised me most was…. how little I ended up missing anything. I was expecting a difficult addiction-style withdrawal, and missing all the things I wasn’t seeing. Instead I just loved the new freedom with no subjective downside.

  12. Interesting. Just a few days ago, I was reading the results of an interview with some of our “millennial” employees on communication styles. One of them offered the opinion that he dislikes phone calls because they are”rude”. What he meant by that is that phone is the only communication mode that requires your immediate attention right now. Email and instant message, on the other hand, allow the recipient to respond at his convenience.

    I’m not sure I buy that argument but I find it an interesting contrast to the reaction to Twitter. Being called on the phone is somehow rude but Twitter must be slavishly and continuously checked and not responding immediately is its own offense.

    1. I’m positive that I don’t buy that bit of egoistic sophistry.

  13. Bravo!

    Twitter delenda est.

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