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How I Made Twitter Enjoyable Again

I have transitioned to as my primary online presence, but I still have my Twitter account. While I have often entertained leaving it altogether, I still wish to keep my handle. I have also found that with thoughtful curation, it’s still a place to learn new things about the world and to be excited by new people and topics.

One big change came after applying a suggestion from @patrickrhone. He announced that he had turned off retweets for accounts he follows. This ingenious trick goes a long way to reduce tweets from people that you do not follow and will reduce tweets on topics you care nothing about. The tweets you see are true to the voice of the person behind the account and not the voices of others they may follow. You will still see shared tweets, but the commentary adds context. It takes more time to share tweets this way, so the tweets shared in this fashion are more meaningful. It does require accepting that you will see fewer tweets overall, so some opportunity to learn about like-minded individuals is lost.

Retweets are also a measure for accounts you may be interested in following. How many tweets in their streams are written by themselves? How much of their streams are just the tweets of others? It also has made me think about the act of retweeting for myself. I will like a tweet that speaks to me, but I rarely retweet any more.

A second big change was to filter out political language. Both primary political parties in the United States have lost my respect completely. Politics make me angry and sad, and that is not the experience I want from my Twitter stream. I run from political discussion as much as others specifically seek it out. I have blocked words that refer to the political parties, words that refer to the political spectrum, words that refer to the people in the parties, and words used to denigrate members of parties other than one’s own. I have had enough. I do follow the accounts of folks elected to represent me, but the same filters apply so I probably don’t see much from those same people.

And lastly, there is that curation thing. I don’t love that word as applied by marketing teams, but I have made a point to think about my own ideals and what is important to me and I measure who I follow against that. When accounts make me angry or sad, I simply unfollow. When I can no longer tell why I followed a specific account, I unfollow. When I see accounts that appear to be trolling or are otherwise propagating falsehoods because they can, I block. Easy.

Curating also can be applied from areas of interest or study or self-improvement. Writers whose work appears in places that excite me are easy follows. Artists whose work I admire are easy follows. Companies doing work I’m interested in are easy follows. Individuals committed to causes dear to me are easy follows. But all of the filters above apply.

Even though I have put strict filters in place, the mouth of the funnel is still pretty wide and lots of great material makes it through. I still cannot keep up with the firehose.