I'm back from a trip that was thrown into disarray before it even started by the federal ruling voiding the mask mandate for airplanes the day before I was supposed to fly out. The week was further disrupted by my brother-in-law's jagoff coworker — who didn't test before they went on a business trip together, although he was symptomatic, because he "didn't think he had COVID" — infecting my brother-in-law with COVID.
I truly have nothing to say about this except that if Jagoff Coworker sees me on the street he better cross. I've gotten over my initial impulse to send him a fruit basket passive-aggressively thanking him for ensuring that I didn't spend TOO much time enjoying the company of my loved ones. Now I simply wish for him to turn on his location.
Bless his heart.
A few other stressful things happened (including witnessing a hit-and-run) but that is not why I am writing this post today.
tl;dr: I am embracing my true calling as an Offline Girlfriend.
Every time I've succumbed to the impulse to doomscroll over the past couple of months, I've ended up with weary, stale, flat, unprofitable cycling through my head like a mantra. This mostly-offline trip brought home to me that Twitter doesn't do much for me these days, and that I feel more alive the less I pay attention to it.
I've actually been thinking this for quite some time, to the point that I recently came up with an elaborate exit strategy involving Shamir's Secret Sharing, mailing envelopes to five members of my inner circle, setting up automatic mirroring of my blog posts to Twitter so I would never have to log in at all, etc.
These discussions rapidly got out of hand, to the point that I had to look up what "airgapped machine" meant.
I regret that I'm no longer planning to do this, because I think it would have made an entertaining final Twitter thread.
It turns out, though, that merely thinking ugh my presence might make Elon Musk some tiny fraction of a cent richer is enough to make the whole website unpalatable to me.
I will also not miss
- the relentlessly infantilizing tone and the presumption that everything must be an opportunity for "education" (Twitter is fatally attractive to the kind of person who delights in repeating received wisdom as if they'd personally invented it)
- the general overfamiliarity, including people I've never met or spoken to and don't know from a hole in the ground dumping their personal problems onto me at the drop of a hat
- replies to my jokes that are just worse versions of the same joke
- getting dragged into an unending 15-person thread that sends me too many notifications because someone decided that one of my shitposts was a Conversation Starter
- the same few Book/Writing/Publishing Discourse topics getting recycled over and over
- getting @-ed with crypto/NFT spam multiple times a week (sometimes multiple times a day)
I will miss a handful of friends and people with a real gift for the medium, but luckily they all know how to reach me. (And if they don't, my work email is very easy to find.)
In the end, nothing that's happened on Twitter in months — possibly years — has made me as happy as driving to a park with an old friend to release the mouse we'd just caught in her kitchen. We'd been sitting in the living room talking in low voices and keeping our ears peeled for the snap of the humane trap going off. Perhaps it would be poetic to end this by saying that I looked into the eyes of little Fitzwilliam (the mouse (to whom I grew surprisingly attached in our fifteen-minute acquaintance)) and thought, I'm as trapped as you are, lured into this tiny private hell by the peanut-butter scent of random dopamine spikes.
It would be poetic but it would also be a lie. My immaculate happiness — the frisson of heading to the woods in the dead of night to dispose of our illicit cargo, the rustle of Fitzwilliam fleeing into the grass by the creek — came from not thinking about the internet at all.