I am BARRY HESS > Blog

View from My Doom Scroll

The things I’m going to say are not news to anyone, but I do think it’s interesting to feel it happening to me in real time.

Recently I revisited my Twitter account. This is for completely self-serving reasons. As I work on things I have some hope other people will find these things and use them. I figured I might need an avenue to share the things I work on. Why not see if Twitter can be helpful here?

It has been something like eight years. My desire in using Twitter is to basically use at as a publish-only service, with maybe a weekly visit to see if anyone had responded to my Tweets. I’ve done okay with that so far.

I’m so old I remember that the addictive quality of Twitter used to be about trying to read the entire stream. You would visit it every day and read until you started seeing things you had already seen. Chronological tweets and completionist addictions, how quaint. Of course the stream is no longer ordered. Though I was fully aware this would be the case, it still felt out of place to an old timer like me.

It’s not surprising that Twitter is favoring a lot of content related to the war in Ukraine. I’m not trying to say it shouldn’t, but the tweets that are favored in my timeline sure are something…special. I wasn’t completely aware that I was being manipulated at first. It was when a name from my past popped into my head and I wondered if he was still on Twitter. I hadn’t seen him writing in my weekly checks, so it seemed likely that he had got off the train. It was rather surprising to me when I went directly to his Twitter profile and found he was reasonably active on the platform. The platform just didn’t feel the need to show me his slice-of-life observations.

His tweets were sweet relief from the conspirational cess pool that Twitter was showing me instead. Again, I’m not suggesting that Twitter should shield me from such a major, disheartening event as the war on Ukraine, but it was eye-opening to realize the algorithm’s preference was to provide me with the most inane and offensive theories, like things floating up from the sewers.

Even when you’re well aware of it, the doom-scrolling of the Internet is so invasive that it still surprises you. So many brains have been boiled like frogs. I’m not sure how it’s possible to pull our societies out of this spiral.