Opinion: Why I'm quitting Twitter

Social media is an incestuous hellscape of dumb videos and boring cyber fights between self-important people.

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Twitter HQ in San Francisco.
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No, I’m not leaving Twitter because it’s been commandeered by the richest man in the world — the eccentric billionaire who made his fortune peddling unreliable, government subsidized battery wagons. It’s likely the whole thing was a ruse to liquidate Tesla stock without tanking its value, but Twitter ironically forced his hand and put him in a tight corner legally.

Nonetheless, I applaud Elon Musk for achieving a glorious victory to strengthen freedom of expression. If every statement made outside the left’s increasingly narrow Overton window is scrubbed or shadow-banned from the digital town square by Orwellian content moderators (thought police), then our First Amendment loses its value.

All that said, I’m leaving Twitter because I’ve realized how counterproductive my compulsive use of it is to my ultimate goals in life. I know you as the reader are probably sitting there like Mr. Makie from South Park, thinking, “Oooomkay Scott Malkinson, I don’t care about your stupid Twitter you nerd.” I doubt my massive audience of 30 followers will notice. Yet, you may find utility in using my social media experience to re-evaluate your own use of such platforms.

I have a hunch that Twitter’s key demographic — the people they get the most advertising click revenue from — are lonely, politics-obsessed goobers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with indulging a passion for politics, I do quite frequently, but there’s a substantial productivity gap between reading John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” and logging in multiple times a day to relish Majorie Taylor Greene owning the libs or vice versa.

Don’t get me wrong, Twitter can be a blast. One of my favorite Twitter memories occurred in late 2016 when #JohnKerryaMovie was trending. A few of the greatest hits included “All Quiet on the Frontal Lobe,” “How to Lose a Friendly Nation in 10 Days” and “Insulting a Few Good Men” (see Kerry’s 2006 comment about college burnouts getting ‘stuck in Iraq’ or Kerry tossing his war medals).


But more recently I’ve found myself incessantly scrolling Facebook and Twitter to distract myself from the stresses of real life. But those problems remain when I swipe out of the app, and have usually been made worse by my procrastination. I sit down on the couch and without even thinking about it, waste 1-2 hours looking at crap that doesn’t matter to me whatsoever. Both platforms are insipid wastelands of mind numbing drivel. I’d quit Facebook too but have to use it for work.

A Pew Research analysis in May found that approximately 23% use Twitter. The report also showed 97% of all tweets are sent by a quarter of the site’s users. From this, you can deduce that roughly 3 out of 50 Americans are spending an unhealthy number of hours every day smugly bloviating at each other.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, etc. are all different versions of the same cyber bulletin board. A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok’s algorithm is prompting some teenage girls to watch videos that lead to eating disorders. One Washington state 15 year old who’s struggled with dietary health for several years said she tried to set up a new TikTok account that avoided certain content, to no avail.

“I still see posts related to eating disorders on my feed at least three times a day,” the high school sophomore said.

Social media can be addicting. Opening the apps to see notifications that someone, anyone, is interested in you and your posts causes a dopamine rush. It feels good, but the high is fleeting.

I didn’t necessarily want to get on Snapchat a few nights ago and listen to the Barstool Sports quarter-wits burp out banal commentary on popular video clips; or watch Ben Shapiro’s Snap story faux-shock reactions to ‘woke religion TikToks,’ which were almost as cringeworthy as the leftists he was mocking. But I did anyway through force of habit.

I’d much rather be reading a substantive news or magazine article, pheasant hunting or volunteering for a good cause. But making the conscious decision to choose fulfilling activities over laziness and digital gluttony takes discipline. We are all blessed by God with a finite, yet uncertain amount of time to spend on this third rock from the sun. I refuse to squander more than I have to in Mark Zuckerberg’s creepy Metaverse terrarium.

Opinion by Jason R. O'Day
Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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