With spring cleaning just around the corner, I found myself this weekend asking myself the Kondo question of my Twitter feed.
“Does it spark joy?”
Being Twitter, the answer was doomed to be a hard no.
I owe a lot to Twitter. It keeps me on top of the news, and I have my job because of it.
But the hellsite is only occasionally known to cause cheer. My feed was a firehose, a deluge that drenched me with content ranging from the delightful to the disgusting. Mostly the latter, because online people really suck.
So, I moved to take back the pleasure from Twitter that I so richly desired.
For a tidied Twitter experience, there’s two things that need a cull: the people you follow, and your own tweets. As an Extremely Online individual, I accumulated an excess of both over the five years I’ve been on the network.
Reducing follow bloat will ensure you get a better experience from your feed, by cutting out those who don’t “spark joy” or provide a real benefit to you. When looking at the list of everyone you follow, you need to curate it — look at each of them, one by one, and ask yourself if you get something useful out of hearing from them. Like the old marketing term goes: “what’s in it for me?”
There’s so much gunk that makes its way into your feed on the daily. If you look closely at the content you are seeing, you may notice a lot of people you don’t remember. Most are probably familiar with this kind of user. They are the ones you probably started following some time ago, perhaps after they landed in your feed via retweet, with something you really liked then. Since, you’ve either not seen them in your feed again or you have and their content failed to live up.
Either way, they don’t add any value now. So we thank them, and unfollow.
With Twitter’s wretched feed change about a year ago, you are now cursed with being able to see tweets from people you don’t follow simply because someone you do, liked it. When you see this, ask yourself if this is the quality content you’re here for. If not, mute the original tweeter so you won’t see it anymore. If this is a recurring problem, unfollow the people who are liking the trash.
It’s important to weigh the benefits with the downsides of every person you follow in order to have a truly curated feed.
Or hit the nuclear button
It can be impractical to go through hundreds of the people you follow and pick out who sparks joy and who does not. What is one to do?
Why not start from scratch with the Nuclear Option™? I chose this route myself by using an API to unfollow everybody. (You can use this by installing the Mass Follow for Twitter browser extension, which includes a bulk unfollow option.)
When you take this route, you of course must rebuild. Pick a cap of how many accounts you would like to be following and break it down into categories with their own caps.
I picked 100 maximum and broke it down into categories like news organizations (10), journalists (20), local politicians (8), etc.
That is a feed weighted towards the information-hungry. You may have other categories specific to your interests. I encourage you to follow away, but with a credit limit!
And cull your tweets
I had, until Saturday, some 20,000+ tweets to my name.
I used Tweet Delete to nuke that, and am working on bringing it down to zero. Twitter API limits mean it’s a slow go…
Why delete all my tweets? It’s a kind of digital clutter, which piles up over time and delivers zero value. Toss it!
What can spark joy is the satisfaction that comes from knowing your tweets, which are transitory in nature, are really and truly ephemeral. By deleting all your tweets (and setting an ongoing autodelete timer), you’re simply giving meaning back to your output. Tweets are something to be enjoyed in the moment, and then forgotten.
Emily Dreyfuss wrote about this for Wired last year. While she talked a little about old tweets coming back to bite you, that wasn’t my main concern with nuking my tweets. She was on the nose with the following:
“I’ve always assumed one day I might want to go back and check out my old tweets. Or, rather, I’ve assumed one day I might need to. There always seemed some hypothetical scenario where I may really need to know what exactly I had tweeted in, say, June of 2012. That day has never arrived. So who am I keeping my tweets around for?”