This year on Twitter was more exhausting than the last, so I decided to take a hard look at my 2014 tweets, using cold, unyielding data to find out why.
Almost one year ago I nuked my Twitter feed and unfollowed everyone. I'd spent six years obsessively following people, but it had become too much, even when it was slow. I used it as a chance to rebuild my feed deliberately from the ground up. I vowed that this time I would seriously begin taking into account things like gender and racial diversity, rather than seemingly following lots of people at random. It was a chance to understand what, if anything, I get out of this service to which I'm tethered for the better part of my workdays.
But did it work? I'm not entirely sure. I silenced a lot of noise and resolved to be better, but Twitter in 2014 for me was more exhausting than the year before it, with all the attendant outrage, micro-memes, and harassment that can make a day feel like a year and crush the most earnest of resolutions. I started wondering during the year: Was I holding up my end of the bargain? Was I just one part of or perhaps THE problem I had tried so hard to escape? I decided to take a deeper look at my year on Twitter and, using cold, unyielding data as my guide, see whether or not I actually turned a over a new leaf in 2014.
To do so, I enlisted the help of ThinkUp, a social media analytics service that tries to help users make sense out of their sprawling tweets and Facebook updates. I was hoping that by asking ThinkUp to analyze my feed and address specific questions, I could get some sense of just how the year went.
Part of what can make Twitter so tiring (and on occasion, kind of fun!) are the repetitive tropes and memes in which many heavy users and journalists (myself so very, very included here) get caught up. Back in October, The Toast's Mallory Ortberg rounded up a glossary of many of these overused phrases; just last week New York's Jessica Roy put together her own glossary of Twitter's most repeated “words, phrases, and inside jokes,” all of which were run through ThinkUp to see just how much I'm adding to the Twitter's migraine-inducing echo chamber. So here goes… In 2014:
I never tweeted the terms/phrases: “#tcot,” “ban men,” “is everything,” “wrote a thing,” or “#tbt.” Nor did I tweet any version of “can u not”, “not all men”/notallmen, the shruggie ¯_(ツ)_/¯ or “thirsty.” And none of my True Detective tweets were jokes about Season 2.
• My only actual use of “shade” was here.
• My only use of #shotsfired was ironic:
• My only use of “can't even” was valid and accurate and not in the twitter language context.
• I feel pretty OK about my use of “it's about ethics in…”
• My only use of “essential reading” was critique.
I DID, however (god help me):
• Tweet 40 times about something being “garbage.”
• Have 72 tweets that included an all caps “THIS.” And 18 that had some variation of “HERO.”
• Tweet some version of “if true” 16 times (as in, “whoa, if true” or “big if true”).
• Tweet 12 jokey “NSFW”s to things that were, decidedly, NOT NSFW.
• Tweet some version of the mansplain-y” “actually” 95 times this year, making me an official monster of a human being and a disgrace to my family name.
ACTUALLY, though, my only tweet that actually begins with “actually” is this:
(My replies to others, however, have a GOOD bit of “actually…” going on. I'm so sorry to the legions of adults, faculty, and concerned citizens who tried to teach me manners as a child.)
• I tweeted once about “personal news.”
• I had 56 “dangs” in 2014, as well as all kinds of folksy variations of the word, including “daaaaaaaaaaaanng” and “dangggg” and, well, you get it.
• I had only nine “hot takes,” which is sadly far fewer than the number of actual hot takes that I produced.
• I'm disappointed that I had only 31 instances of “never tweet,” which I plan to get tattooed on my person in 2015.