Saying goodbye to Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now, first as @SauropodMike and more recently as @MikeTaylor. I have to admit, it’s hugely surpassed my expectations. I thought it was a medium for the trivial, but instead I’ve found a wealth of pithy observations, witty asides and links to all sorts of fascinating longer reads.


So now I’m leaving it.

The problem is not that Twitter is trivial — it’s precisely the opposite. It’s immersive and informative and, most of all, time-consuming.

I follow 300-odd people, and they’re pretty much all fascinating in their various ways. They link to hefty articles about weighty matters. I read a lot of these. As a result I am much better informed now than I’ve ever been before, about a whole swathe of issues. Not only open access, which I’m passionate about, but British freedom-of-speech erosion, the US government shutdown (thank heavens they finally grew up), the astonishing rate of overnight imprisonment of children in the UK, and much much more.

These are issues that bother me deeply but that I can’t do anything about. Whereas open access is one that I can influence, in my small way. Knowing about all these other things is bringing me stress and unhappiness, but not opening a window for me to actually help. Avoiding that state is why I deliberately don’t follow the news in conventional media (TV, radio, newspapers), so it makes no sense that I’ve let myself get sucked into following news in this medium.

More important still, Twitter is just taking so darned much of my time. I tend to be quite a depth-first person, perhaps tending towards obsessive. The result is that whenever I get back onto my computer after a break, I feel an obligation to catch up on everything I’ve missed on Twitter, and to read all the interesting links. That’s eating into time I would otherwise use for blogging (hence how quiet it’s been here at The Reinvigorated Programmer), and for writing papers. It’s also slowed progress on another project I’m working on, which I hope to announce here in a week or two.

So I’m going to quit reading Twitter.

I’ll still tweet occasionally — not least, to let people know when I post something here or at Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, and also to respond when I get an email notification that someone’s tweeted about me. But in general I’m going to treat Twitter as a read-only medium; and in practice that’s going to mean I’m writing much less on it, too.

Hopefully I can make better use of the hour a day, or however much it is, that I recover.

Anyone who’s been used to contacting me on Twitter can always get hold of me either by commenting on any of my blogs (I see all comments) or of course by good, old-fashioned email to


4 responses to “Saying goodbye to Twitter

  1. I’m not on Twitter, but I read Reddit a lot, and have found that I often start bickering with people there, because more than anything I get upset from that website. It’s sad that the world is in such a state that informing ourselves about it and what’s going on exposes us more to injustice, wrong-doings and sad events, rather than wonderful things to experience and learn about. Trying to inform and expose myself more to global news and events, and other cultures, via Reddit was a mistake and a net-negative experience.

    Rolf Dobelli writes a lot about this and the burden of news and being informed. A good digest of articles and interviews can be found on I recommend his article “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier.”

  2. Well as to the Twitter-as-time-sink: yeah I already left it a while ago because.. yeah you can either be on Twitter or have a life outside of Twitter… but it’s next to impossible to do both.

    The only time I go on twitter now it’s to find a link to a local “breaking news” story. For that one purpose, twitter is easily 1,000 better than Google. With google I invariably find popular references to some *similar* story that happened in the same area a year or three ago.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  3. The link Robert provided is a good read!
    But it seems like the opposite of Mikes intentions.

    The article says basically that normal Media News is bad, in contrast to in-depth well written articles which are good for you.
    So he suggest to stop consuming ‘fast food news’ and read what’s important to you.

    At least that’s what i read in his article.

    It’s quite ironic that this is published on a news website ;)

  4. Pingback: Interview with Open Access Nigeria | Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

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