Why I can't stand twitter

April 22, 2014

As a blogger, the common wisdom says that I should use twitter.

I've tried... but I just can't stand it.

Supposedly, it helps you build a network and engage with an audience, but the quality of that engagement is unspeakably poor.

Recently, I've been trying to respond to tweets that mention me, but I'm often left utterly confused as to what on earth people are trying to say, usually because I've been copied into a reply to a reply to a retweet from a week ago, and all context is lost.

Then because everything is limited to 140 characters, conversations about complicated topics become reduced to soundbites devoid of any subtlety of meaning. I write a 1000-word blog post on skill development in writing, and I get a sub-140-character reply saying "get words down and worry later" or the meaningless "writing is thinking". It makes me want to beat my head against the desk.

But my real problem with twitter is the lack of attention. Everyone is multitasking. Everyone is distracted. All the things I write about depend upon stemming the tide of information so you can actually think... so if you are on twitter, you aren't following my advice anyway.

Twitter might help me grow an audience or increase my web traffic, but I think it's a better use of my time to spend longer talking to fewer people, and engaging in higher-quality conversations through webinars, coaching and speaking engagements.

I find twitter stressful, inefficient and superficial. It goes against every principle I talk about on this blog, and it's an unnecessary distraction to meaningful work. With that in mind, it seems the only reasonable conclusion is to stop using it.

Update: I've reactivated my account, but only to auto-post links to new articles. If you want to comment, do so on the post and feel free to use more than 140 characters! If you comment on Twitter I won't see it because I don't look.

If you found this post useful, click below to share!

For more detailed guidance and support...

The PhD Academy All-Access Pass

Weekly calls with James

You don't have to do it all alone! Get the All Access Pass for weekly group calls and Q&A sessions with James

Every online course

Build your skills and confidence with our detailed video courses. Go at your own pace and get advice and support when you need it

Get the book!
PhD: an uncommon guide to research, writing & PhD life

order now on amazon