Words [] Why I Quit #Qwitter

An Exercise in Personal Hypocrisy

Original image from Pixabay. Glitched by Kulturpop.

Original image from Pixabay. Glitched by Kulturpop.

Last year I ran a quiet campaign to convince people to stop using Twitter. If you haven’t heard of my #Qwitter movement then you’ll understand how bad a grassroots campaigner I am. I even wrote about it here on Medium, with the self-righteously titled piece Why I Quit Twitter. If that wasn’t enough, I signed it off with a stupidly short-sighted statement:


“I wish the company well, but I’m one of the users it won’t woo back. I’m a #Qwitter.”


Except that I’m not. I’m back. I wasn’t wooed. I quit being a Qwitter. 


I know that makes me a hypocrite. I left because I didn’t like what Twitter had become: a home for racists and multifarious extremists. That its community standards were so opaque and self-serving as to be worthless. I didn’t have an epiphany. I could start listing all the positive steps that Twitter has taken over the past 12 months that have allowed me to rationalise my return to the platform, that I’d somehow identified Jack Dorsey’s moment of data emancipation, his first step on the Road to Datamascus. If I did, I’d be lying. 


There was no sea change in the company’s governance. Chirruper in chief Jack Dorsey remains as blandly tone deaf as Zuckerberg, Pichai, Cook and cornflour. Over Xmas, I folded. With surprisingly little thought, given my supposedly principled abstention, I fired up the little blue birdie, started weeding out dead and dormant accounts, created some new lists and looked for new voices to follow. 


I’m back because it serves me better. 


I’ll admit, I missed the Twitter of old. The Twitter of lively exchanges with my friends. Honing one liners and zinging rejoinders. We weren’t trolling other users, we were having fun amongst ourselves. But the groups grew too large. The noise was all-encompassing. Algorithm tweaks gave you plenty of sponsored posts and buried the voices you wanted to interact with.


In 2019, my Twitter use is far more oriented towards work. I’m following writers, journalists, broadcasters and thinkers. I’m muting and blocking trolls. I’m not following politicians. Even the cool ones. 


Above all, I’m using it to promote my work and my shows. I’m expanding the sources of information I’ve been relying on. I’m looking at new points of view and new approaches to thinking. I get to join in with the jokes of some very funny people. 


I’m as outspoken as ever about the need to reform the business models and practises of tech social media companies. 


That makes me a hypocrite and a contrarian. Someone who is principled and self-serving. But don’t worry; I’m not expecting you to be any better than me.

Matt Armitage