3 months back, I wrote that I will cut down my Twitter usage. Like most of my decisions, I wrote down the WHY behind it, and also the WHAT. And now it is time to do a retro of how it has gone so far.
Before we start, note that the timestamps in my blog posts are all over the place. Instead of taking the date when I write the post, the timestamp follows a series. Why? Eventually, I plan to remove timestamps, but for now, it helps me count the number of posts I have written this year. So if this post is dated as 30th May, and every day before this has a post, it means I have written 5*30 posts for the year. 150 posts!
Let us go through the WHAT again
- Turning off notifications. No idea who is quote tweeting me or liking my tweets.
- This went out well. I realize I have so little anxiety now after I post a tweet. Earlier, I used to worry if someone would quote tweet me and be salty. But without notifications, you can just post what you want, get the thought out of your head, and move on.
- Instead of relying on push notifications, and impulsively checking my notifications, I search my name on Twitter a few times during the day, and see if there is anything which warrants a reply. Social media is the only case where Pull is better than Push.
- Turning off DMs. Not replying to incoming DMs except people I know well.
- Why I did this? Because I want my life to be more proactive than reactive. Instead of being pulled into random discussions with people on the internet, I want to be cognizant of who I am spend my time with/on. I know a lot of people advocate serendipity and randomness. Opening yourselves to more interactions which might lead to more opportunities. I prefer being deliberate instead. Saying No has been a personal motto for a long time.
- Using motion on Desktop web.
- I had to stop using my old laptop because of some complexities. I am using my wife’s 2013 Macbook instead. Since it is so slow, the only thing I do in this machine is to write posts.
- Deleting tweets every 2 days.
- This has been going well. I now delete posts every day.
- Not replying to most comments.
- Since I don’t get notifications, unless I go to each of my tweets and click on replies, I end up not seeing the comment. It is a trade off I am okay with.
- Setting my location as Japan
- My explore tab is now full of topics I have no clue about. And I like it that way.
- In a world where everyone is busy shouting from rooftops, I think being deliberate with how you spend your time, who you interact with, and whose advice you listen to can be a competitive advantage. This advantage won’t pay off in the short term. But think: Over the long term, who would you prefer being? Someone who has X thousand followers on Twitter, who tweets tidbits/links which gets likes, or someone who is 10X better than the average in their domain because they have spent thousands of hours learning and perfecting their craft?
- Since I stopped spending my days on Twitter, trying to reward my brain with the latest hot topic, gossip, analysis of the last quarter of some tech giant which will have no impact on my career, I have found much more time to devote to things which will help me become a better product manager: re-reading past books, taking more notes, thinking about various industries and forming an opinion, instead of reading the latest hot take, and then tweeting out my highlights.
- I have also cut down on newsletters. Most newsletters gives a feeling of learning something new, but you rarely implement anything from these posts. They give you a feeling of becoming smart, without actually having your viewpoint. It is better to consume less and create more.
- Confession: I am still weak; I get bored. During this pandemic, we have far more free time because there is no work commute; less pretend work. So I keep getting back to my default: posting random observations on Twitter, getting a kick out of seeing people like my tweets, and getting validation. But compared to 1 year back, where I used to tweet 40-50 times a day, most of them being links, some hot takes, and a few shitposts, my tweet frequency has gone down by a lot. Apart from occasional tweetstorms, I don’t think I tweet more than 3-4 times a day.
- What I am doing instead:
- Reading classics like High Output Management, but this time in a paperback format, and highlighting, and pondering over every line. I have started loving physical books, after years of reading on my Kindle. You spend far more time over each page, thinking, than trying to move quickly to the next page. It feels more deliberate.
- Doing a bunch of courses on Coursera. When you are not checking your phone every 10 mins, you have so much time at your disposal.
- Playing Witcher 3 and R2D2. As someone for whom gaming started and ended with FIFA, I am enjoying open-world games.
- You must have noticed me using my wife instead of my girlfriend. Yes, I got married too.
- Once you move away from the need from validation, instant dopamine hits through likes, hot takes, you can spend much more time doing things that will stay with you for life. As someone who was once a prominent Quora persona [sorry I repeat this every time I write about social media], I have realized how useless vanity metrics like followers, likes/upvotes are. The millions of page views, hundred of thousands of upvotes, thousands of followers mean nothing once you get out of that social media platform. Can’t relate to Quora? Think about the time you were a teen, and all you wanted was more likes on your filtered photos on Facebook/Instagram. I seldom go to Facebook now, and I am sure it is the same for most of you.
Here is a post which a Linkedin connection had shared which sums up my views on Twitter.
I don’t think I will take an extreme stance like deleting my account like this person, but I will surely be careful about how I spend my time: Playing long term games with long term people
Note: A lot of people might argue that this is a privileged take; that Twitter is amazing if you are from an underprivileged background. Agree to both. But then again, most blogposts are subjective, and a representation of the author’s experience and view of the world. There are thousands of tweet-storms already on why Twitter is net positive for the world. So do what is best for you.