The 280-Character Damage, in Hindsight
Finding my way back into long-form writing. Thank you and RIP, Twitter.
I created a Twitter account back in May 2009, which means I’ve been on this social platform for close to 15 (!!!) years now. However, I haven’t been active since the start of 2023, a few months after Elon Musk took over, eliminated most of the Twitter team, reactivated banned accounts of problematic personalities, and essentially let the house burn.
Considering the ever-evolving digital landscape, with hundreds of apps launching and eventually closing, the staying power of Twitter is pretty darn remarkable. And I’ve been on it for almost 15 years — that’s a long time to be invested and engaged in any social media platform, let alone any sort of relationship. But I’ve intentionally kept my distance this year given that I didn’t want to be close to anything that involved Elon Musk and I was already noticing the degradation of the site in late 2022.
You’d think that being on that platform for so long would make the separation a lot harder, but when I find myself opening my Twitter account every now and then, I close it no more than 2 minutes later. I realize that I don’t miss it, which is shocking to me, and I’ve been trying to unpack why that is.
You see, I loved Twitter. I wouldn’t have stayed and remained active for so long if I didn’t like it or didn’t find value in it. I thought it was the best social media out there. I felt the conversations were higher quality than the chaos and garbage on Facebook. I felt that the content was more authentic than the filtered, curated world of Instagram. Most importantly, I felt that Twitter was the kind of platform that fit my personality and interests the most.
As an introvert, I loved the brevity of it all, the ability to say your piece in 280 (originally 140) characters or less. Back then, I felt like I could never have maintained a blog because what on earth did I have to say that necessitated long-form writing? I am not necessarily a chatty, meandering type of person, so I found the constraint in character count to be perfect for when I found myself needing to just shout something into the void — a story, an opinion, a rant, a cryptic message, a reaction to current events, a cynical or hopeful…