Twitter is ruining my timeline

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Twitter Tweetstorm

These days I get almost all my non-tech news from Twitter. I have come to trust that if something significant is happening in sports, politics or any other area I care about is happening or has recently happened, at least one person I follow will be tweeting about it. Occasionally, someone will think some tweet from several hours ago is worth re-tweeting, but for the most part my Twitter feed is what people are talking about right now.

There is something highly addictive about having a constant feed of what people are talking about right now. I believe the scientific term is FOMO. I found myself compulsively checking my Twitter feed every hour or so. I would scroll down all the tweets until I got to the last tweet I’d read before putting my phone down.

This behavior is obviously not in my best interests. I would certainly live a happier, more fulfilled life if I didn’t spend so much time reading mildly amusing 140 character posts about some covfefe or the other. For Twitter engineers however, this is exactly what they are looking for. The more time I spend on the site, the more time they have to show me adverts and therefore generate revenue. They actively try to get me to spend as much time on Twitter so they can brag to advertisers and investors about how the average user spends an hour a day on the site (or whatever the average usage is).

If you are an engineer at Twitter, you have one problem. The maximum amount of time a user like me is willing to spend on the site is however long it takes to read new tweets posted since the last time I checked. Twitter engineers can’t add content to make me spend more time reading. But now they have come up with a bright idea to keep me reading. They have figured that if they mix up new tweets with some old ones I might not have seen, it will take me more time to go through the feed. When I open the Twitter mobile site now, every second tweet is typically something from several hours ago that someone I follow apparently just liked or retweeted.

Now, I like to think I am not an idiot. I can spot such an obvious pattern when I see it. It annoys me to no end when I am confronted with tweets from several hours ago that I saw, you guessed it, several hours ago. Since I started noticing this, I have entirely stopped using Twitter on my phone. I still use it on the desktop using their own tweetdeck tool, which is apparently aimed at professionals therefore doesn’t have this stupid gimmick. I have done side by side comparisons.

On the bright side, I now spend much less time on Twitter. Thanks to the Twitter engineer for helping me break my addiction by ruining the mobile feed.

One response

  1. Sagitarr

    Its very easy to get “lost” online in general because every business out there needs your attention – even for services you don’t require!! I enjoy an unfettered offline life and get online only when I need to. That way, I still have full control of my life. Having been a developer for the last 25 years, I strongly detest typing though I’m more comfortable with reading.