One of the best things Twitter has going for it right now is inertia, the tendency of human beings to repeat habituated behaviors, even when those behaviors are no longer advantageous for them.
Indeed, even when they're decidedly disadvantageous.
I think it's partly a consequence of our evolution. While there's a natural, novelty-seeking tendency that exists in many of us, the greater tendency seems to be to repeat learned behaviors that provide some known reward. With Twitter and other forms of "social" media, it's the social rewards that come from interacting with fellow human beings. Those interactions don't necessarily have to be positive to yield positive rewards. Trolls experience rewards in negative interactions. Or it could be receiving "likes" and "re-tweets" of critical or snarky reactions or takes on current events. That "positive" feedback to expressing negative views, biases you to perceiving events in a negative light.
Then there's the interior experience of arousal, which comes to feel "normal" so we seek stimuli that provoke that state. Outrage, titillation, some exaggerated interior feeling in response to exterior events, or reports of such events.
There's also the illusion that engaging in all this interaction is actually doing something. Yeah, I suppose it helps establish the zeitgeist, which may or may not help influence the people who actually, you know, do something. But mostly it's just hot air. Electrons. Bits.
One of the most powerful tools a therapist has to help a client, is to turn their attention inward. "David, whats going on inside you?" Introspection.
Of course, you only ever see a therapist when things have gotten so off-balance in your life that you realize you need help. This inability to look inward makes that often realization difficult, if not impossible. Even when you realize it, you must overcome the feeling that it makes you somehow less. And that's to say nothing of being able to actually find help. We don't have enough mental health resources. Anyway, another topic.
I like the social interactions I experience on Twitter. I know I don't like the fact that much of that comes from being critical. And I know that I'm part of others' "problem" in that regard as well.
What I recall learning when I left Facebook and Instagram, because I don't think I wrote any of this down in the marmot or anywhere else (which is why it's good to make notes, keep a journal, write a blog, whatever), is that I didn't spend more time offline. Rather, I just moved to other sites that offered some social interaction.
I seem to recall spending a lot more time on Digital Photography Review's micro four-thirds forum. (No link because why would I do that to you?) But that wasn't a very positive experience.
There's nothing more tedious than people who are absolutely certain they know everything about cameras, photography or business, and who have very strong opinions about the same.
And then there were, and still are, the needy people whose desire for social interaction provokes the endless "Please help me decide which body, lens, bag, tripod, filter, post-processing software, whatever, to take on my trip, photograph my grandkids, shoot this concert, race, sporting event, dance recital, wedding, funeral, cosplay adventure, whatever."
Jesus people! Just go do it and learn from experience! But there are many more people who get their reward experience from offering free advice. Of course, it has nothing to do with any of that. It's mostly just experiencing the interaction with another human being that isn't happening in "real" life.
That kind of sucked, so Twitter became my drug of choice.
And COVID just amplified that by an order of magnitude or more. Much safer to stay online than go to physical third places and risk being infected. But online interactions don't have the same social cues that help make us, hopefully, more decent people in real life.
(Same thing in cars. People are great. Drivers are assholes.)
Anyway, you see this playing out on Twitter as people decide whether to stay or go; and those who want to go, seem to be looking to try to replicate their experience on Twitter, without necessarily examining exactly what that experience is really like for them. They just know that's what they want.
Which is part of what I'm struggling with right now. I know I want the social interactions, especially the local ones, or the ones I find genuinely rewarding, regardless of location. I know I want there to be more friction, less volume, so that I'm not just like a rat that can't stop hitting the cocaine water. I want it to be somewhat more deliberative, less of the "hot take."
But that's my problem to solve. Which takes effort, and habituated behaviors are so useful because they require less effort.
I think blogs are a better answer, but we'll see. Something to blog about anyway!