Oliver Roick

My Problem With Twitter

I loved Twitter as a place where you could connect with new ideas. Now it’s all 280-character hot takes.

I came back to Twitter earlier this year after a prolonged absence. I signed off a couple of years ago when I noticed that heated, undifferentiated, and shallow arguments disguised as political discourse had taken over. But, I came back last summer hoping to reconnect with a community I had left behind, a community of smart people working in the geospatial sector, sharing the things they had built, discovered, or written.

I lasted about four weeks.

Twitter doesn’t work for me; it makes me miserable. No matter what the topic is, every post is now a hot take condensed to 280 characters or less with limited context and optimised for maximum likability and retweetability. These tweets prompt more hot takes for response, spiralling into arguments no average human can follow and make sense of.

Fine, Agile practices are littered with bureaucracy and they don’t work for your team, but what aspects exactly don’t work, and how would you successfully run a project? Hiring in tech is a biased mess? I agree, but I’m more interested in hearing what you are doing to address the issue. Oh, and your twice-a-year tantrum about daylight savings — why isn’t your circadian rhythm affected in the same way you when you fly from San Francisco to New York over the weekend?

Every take is shortened, leaving no room for nuanced thinking and exploration. Everything is a bold statement, triggering black and white responses — hard agree or hard disagree. Twitter is for people who have opinions on everything paired with the constant need to share that opinion. The problem is even the people I usually value for their work, insight, wit, and curiosity do that too and way too often.

I’d love to see people who sit down and think, instead of barfing out every thought crossing their mind, and then write five hundred words exploring that thought, its context and consequences. And then share that piece. Try that. Maybe you find that the idea you just had in the shower wasn’t so deep after all.

Twitter seems like a great medium for discovering people and ideas. It’s just that those ideas come in the wrong format. I wish people wrote more and tweeted less.