inessential by Brent Simmons

The Man Who Deleted All His Tweets

I’ve deleted all my tweets (and re-tweets and favorites) — or, rather, I’ve deleted all the easy-to-find tweets. Apparently 3,764 remain that I can’t find. (I’ve requested an archive, which should do the trick.)

I have a number of good reasons not to like Twitter: how poorly it’s treated third-party developers (some of whom are my friends); how it’s become the bright and shining home of bullies, outrage, and the mob mentality; how it’s fallen in love with TV and celebrities; how it’s turning into yet another way to show me ads.

But those aren’t my reasons for deleting my tweets. Instead, it’s because Twitter is a blogging (or micro-blogging, really) service that doesn’t meet my requirements, which are:

  1. I should be able to host my content using my own domain, and

  2. I should be able to move to another service (or to my own server) without anybody noticing the difference. (Links shouldn’t break, etc.)

Were Twitter just the world’s global chat room — with tweets as ephemeral as anything I type into an irc, HipChat, or Slack window — I wouldn’t care.

But Twitter is half chat room and half micro-blogging service, and it is absurd to allow Twitter an exception to my rules about owning my own blogs.

Compromise Position

It’s not that I’m anti-social. I do use HipChat, Slack, and Messages (irc not so much anymore) to talk with my friends and co-workers. And there’s always email. (Email we shall always have with us.)

Messaging systems from Glassboard on have replaced a lot of what I used to use Twitter for, and this seems to be a general trend. I like this trend. Not everything has to be broadcast to the world.

But what gives me pause is Twitter’s egalitarian nature. Twitter’s strength and weakness are the same thing: anybody can talk to anybody.

So I haven’t deleted my account or made it private. I will respond to some messages. It’s just that I’ll delete my response after a day or a week or whatever so that Twitter is a chat-only service for me. (I should automate this.)

What I don’t have yet, though, is a replacement micro-blogging system. I’m going to let that just be an unmet need for now. Perhaps it’s the grain of sand that irritates me into generating a pearl. And perhaps not.


I’m not advocating for anything. You can disagree with me on Twitter’s being half chat room and half micro-blogging service. I don’t expect anybody to follow my lead, and I don’t expect anybody to feel bad for not following my lead.