What am I doing on twitter?

January 15, 2019, at 02:44 PM by mgarcia in 2019, Blog, GameDev, Industry (0 comments)

Title: What am I doing on twitter? Author: mgarcia Date: 2019-01-15 14:44 +1100 Tags: 2019, Blog, GameDev, Industry Comments: Open

Is Twitter A Net Positive On My Life?

This is something I've been gearing up to do lately, reduce my social media presence, specifically twitter.
I've deleted my old account and created a new one which will serve as just a simple RSS feed for twitter users.
I will not log in to twitter and use it, but my script will follow you back if you choose to follow the feed.

Before I say why I'm leaving it, I want to say some things positive about it.

It's a huge directory of smart and interesting people which makes contacting them very very easy.
I've tracked down ex Net Yaroze members and even tweeted at John Romero a few times about Net Yaroze and he's replied, and that's pretty cool!
But I wonder if twitter didn't exist, if I could have done the same, via email or website blogs or articles. Like Andy Gavin does on his blog.

And well that's it... Overall, I think twitter is a toxic and narcissistic place of over conformity and this is why I'm no longer active on twitter. But here's some details, the list is ordered from just annoying to worse.

Block Is The New Black

I wouldn't say I'm very controversial, but I guess I'm old fashioned, cynical and yes, I do call out BS. Lately, I've noticed the retweets from a Spanish developer were mostly blocked to me. I was curious and found a bot which checks how many block lists your on, I was on one very very big one.

What surprised me was that you can follow other people's block list and if you follow the biggest list I would be blocked. The cringie thing is, I can bet the list was created by a script bot and not a human. Which to me means there's a bot farming for human interactions and then blocking them and people follow them to remove other people from their feeds. That's just crazy to me!

Maybe twitter's algorithm is so extremely progressive that it thinks that the more people you block, the more it thinks your a victim being oppressed and the more your voice needs to be heard, I wouldn't be surprised. Anyway, blocking for nothing is really antisocial and dehumanizing behavior, and should be a lot harder to block then what it is now.

Not Being "On Topic"

Yes, I like being on topic and I like following others with their main topics. My topic is gamedev, especially retro, custom C/C++ gamedev tech and the older way of doing things.

And sure, we all have bad days, we are all human and it's too easy to tweet things in a mood, I've been guilty of this and regretted it. Someone will see it and be impacted, maybe in passing, maybe subconsciously or worse. From my experience, specifically on twitter, is that there are a few actually interesting and social people that do it "right". I don't have that will power. But I don't post what I eat everyday or political rants either and nor did I want to see it from others, unless of course, your feed is just that.

Being A Number

I hate seeing numbers, I know a little about the psychology of how social media platforms work. And those numbers are mostly for the algorithms and the narcissist, not normal people. But I've never aspired to be a popular person, I think we're all human and we all have our flaws.

Regardless, twitter's worse number is the followers count. There's a horrible and very antisocial stigma that if your following count is greater then your follower count, you're uncool or something... this BS is dehumanizing and twitter supports this mentality because there's no way to hide the numbers (which you can on youtube).

In my ignorance, I played to this, well kind of anyway. I had loose rules about who to follow back and why. Here are the ones I remember:

  • Following less then 5k, anymore is most likely a bot trolling for follow backs.
  • No accounts with their feeds of just themselves - it's antisocial.
  • must be on a topic I like, ie retro or gamedev... or something special, not just I'm making a game with X engine.
  • preferably tweeted at me in a conversation or introduction... amazing how most don't even do this.
  • Don't spam direct message me after I follow you, I'd just block them.
Social means Marketing

Lets face it, as this decade comes to a close, it's safe to say there are more bots or scripts (aren't these derogative term for AI now?) on "Social Media" then actual humans.
And what do these bots do? marketing something to humans, naturally!
But it's just not bots that market, oh no.
We've all seen users that just have a feed of themselves, if you haven't, it looks like this:

Image: A twitter account feed of just themselves

When social media feels antisocial

In a world of sheep (followers), the bots might not be the shepards (followees) of the world, but are definitely their tools (sheep dogs).
And yet social sites encourage their use by providing API's to any developers.

So, these days I believe "Social Media" to be nothing more then an interactive link aggregation site or an RSS feed, so that's how I treat it.
I don't supply it my time and content, instead links to my content on my (clunky and boring) site, where if anyone wants to actually be "social", they can in the comments.

Websites, blogs, RSS feeds and even webrings, might all sound old school and regressive, but I'm definitely not the only one.

Ideologies And Virtues

This one upsets me.. and yes it triggers me!
This transcends plain politics, into personal ethics and morality.

The thought that there are people that lecture others on, what to think, do and say.. and guilt you with horrible labels (something-ist, something-phobic, etc), if you don't agree, perplexes me!

Twitter is full of young (and a few older) people trying to out do each other on virtues ( keyboard virtue warriors ). I don't read Polygon, Kotaku or Vox etc for this reason, they write ridiculous & disingenuous, clickbait articles based on so called virtues.

At the same time, they attack the game developers or the people they write for, the gamers that want to read about games, all to indoctrinate the readers into their cult-like ideologies. It sounds absurd put that way, but that's what critical theory is (everything is problematic).

Hate, cruelty and double standards are all morally justified. Reading about all this is very negative and counter productive in the long run.

To me, true Identity Politics is individualism, not the group first politics of intersectionality nonsense.

Here is one example that stuck with me, I've followed and listened to Rami, a game developer. He's a smart guy, talks from real experiences and tells it how it is and I still recommend him to others interested in gamedev.
Maybe I'm old and I will never get this, but to me it sounds worse then the strict political correctness the young conservative generations before the 1960's had to endure!

Image: Polygon tweets about new xbox code name. my anaconda dont my anaconda dont my anaconda dont want none unless you got games, hon. Rami retweets saying, Twitter pro tip for today, if you're tweeting a joke that requires people to understand recent news (for example that the next Xbox is reportedly code-named Anaconda) because otherwise it might read like a sexist joke, it might be a good idea to not tweet that joke.

Rami Ismail: Call out culture, safetyism morality.

It's a reference to a song from the early 90's, which by today's world is no doubt (sadly) offensive to many groups. But Rami is suggesting those lyrics, by itself, is offensive, is it really? If you don't know the reference is it still a joke? and is it still offensive? And more importantly, what do the fan's of Rami's games think? do they care?

Offensive or not, it's been an influence in music and culture, but you can decide for yourself, Sir Mix A Lot Baby Got Back (HD)

Hive Mind Mentality

The gamedev (indies) community, on the internet is relatively a small one.
Game development, being mostly a difficult thing to achieve (a finished product), requires a lot of focus. And when there's no focus, there's a lot of procrastination online.

The problem is that they read and listen to each other in that same community and rarely venture out of it, parroting themselves, consciously or otherwise.

GameDev on social media (probably all of social media as a whole) is mostly a stale echo chamber of thoughts, with no room for grey or individualism, it's all black and white, right and wrong.

I don't expect a deep and enlightening conversation on twitter, it's not made for that. Instead, it's very common to be block, just in case your independent thoughts and experiences differ from the mob narrative.

We naively give credibility to people with twitter accounts with 10's of thousands of followers (because we don't know what a follow/unfollow script is?). And listen to the same old generic, happy and inclusive advice, never doubting if they actually know what their talking about (because it's violence to deny someone's fictional reality?).

We are all individuals and internet wisdom is seldom right, often targeted at the lowest common denominator. I see all the time, the same generic engines being recommended, even to Computer Science students or graduates, this is really sad.

Where they had an opportunity to go deep into their trade, lower level computer programming with industry standard toolchains and environments, but the internet, in all it's unfounded and generic wisdom has decided they should instead focus on a prebuilt framework with a high level scripting language in a proprietary UI.

The learning opportunity with gamedev is huge, and ironically the most who should benefit from it are the programmers, all the different kinds of programmers, instead if you want to do anything different contra to the generic advice be prepared for a wave of well meaning and self-important advice givers, like this guy .

Overly Political

I've never paid attention to politics, I've always felt my vote doesn't matter. But there's no escaping it on twitter. In fact most young, so called "game developers" (IndeDev's) state, "everything is political!" - roles eyes -
It's just another popularity contest I avoid.

The New MySpace

Remember MySpace.com? it was the "social media" of the early 2000's and it's largest demographic were creative people, specifically musicians.

It went out of popularity when less specific and general social sites became popular, facebook and twitter. Twitter, because it's very fast at disseminating small packets of information (tweets), is used largely by journalists. And in our click bait world, speed is the most important concern, not correctness, not their own editorial guidelines, not ethics, just speed and views.
Of course most of these articles are opinion "drama" pieces, criticizing and insulting something current and popular with some random, absurd negative tangent or hearsay, and completely unproductive to the reader. It seems unbias research, facts and quote gathering takes too long in the social media age.

Add to this my previous points, a one sided, narrow world view, with journalist virtue boosting and sourcing each other, not only do you have a dumpster fire of a social platform but more importantly the media outlets themselves then also become low quality trash.

This behavior might have paid short term dividend, but with mass layoffs of these journalists, I'd guess to say it's not viable in the long run, and I'm sure twitter is looking closely how it handled the #LearnToCode mess.

Like with MySpace, when the audience got bored of the "same old tune", they moved to something new, diverse and balanced.

The Perpetual Feed

Compounding it all, is the never ending feed of text, images and videos. With pretty interaction effects and dopamine inducing notifications. It's made for addiction, to create and propagate content for it, it consumes life meaninglessly, seconds of interactions at a time, lowering your attention span.

Sure there's great information and people there, but it's mostly coincidental, things I wasn't looking for in the first place, like walking past a conversation that sounds interesting, but I'm still not going to stop, yet on twitter it's just that.

I'm a 40 year old man and I feel sorry for children using this platform and even worse having it on their mobile phones. I think it should have a minimum age of 18 or 21 years of age and government health warnings all over it, like any other highly addictive products like tobacco or alcohol. Especially considering careers are ruined from very old tweets!

Not A Fun Place

Lastly and more importantly, for the reasons explained all above, you can't laugh at yourself (let alone at others) when the majority thinks like they do.
In fact it encourages negative and hateful, outrage behavior.
And really, that is not a fun or happy place to be.
So why waist my time on something that doesn't bring happiness?

Why Did I Delete My Twitter?

Firstly, I don't have anything to hide. I like to think I was a net positive while on twitter.
And for a while (9 days), I thought I could just remove one of the things I disliked about twitter, Being A Number! So I used a private list of people I actually followed and implemented a follow back script, which would unfollow the people that don't follow me and follow back the people that actually do, I called it twitter parity at the time.

Image: My old twitter account with follow and follower numbers the same.

How to avoid the popularity contest, follow back

But, after a while the rest of the issues above were just more annoying, and I didn't want to permanently contribute to a hive site which is mostly a net negative on life in general.

My content is mine and it belongs with me, just like my blog site. I have a backup of my twitter and plan on re-posting interesting tweets here, where it belongs in the first place.

I didn't want to bait and switch my followers by changing my account to a bot, that would really piss me off. Instead, if they notice I'm gone, they can look me up.

Other Social Media Sites?

I'm not on facebook, like google, it's too much information for one company, so I don't use it.
I use youtube to upload videos of things I find interesting and the stuff I get up to now and then.
Reddit, I find it a lot less addicting and more focused but the hive mind is definitely there. It also makes for a good bookmark site, which I've integrated on my site menu.

Links

How to get 30% happier
Jaron Lanier audiobooks
The latest youtube videos of Jaron Lanier
I'm thinking it may be good to be off social media altogether.

Conclusion

I don't know why we still call these platforms "social". It's the last thing I would call them.

Social, in real life is being in public and friendly, for a very limited time and the rest is private time. This is healthy and normal.

Social media is a 24 hours and 7 days a week, online stream of transient random mess. Feeding this isn't healthy and not normal.

We don't behave as humans in social and public setting on social validation media, instead we advertise, shit post, troll, advise, or just feed our own narcissism, in very short bursts and return to do it again a few minutes later.

If you're on twitter, just ask yourself: Is twitter a net positive on my life?

Thanks for reading.
Mike.

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