I unfollowed everyone I know personally on Twitter. Friends, relatives, coworkers, colleagues whose work and opinions I respect, celebrities, and people I met once at a conference. If we would know each other on the street, I’m not following you on Twitter anymore. That’s fine. Twitter was the least useful means we had of staying connected anyway.
It’s an experiment not in distancing myself from people but in news consumption. You see the only people left in my Twitter feed are journalists. I culled my following list down from over 1100 to 353, and every single one of those follows writes or edits for either a newspaper or a magazine or a website, or they report for a television station.
They’re kind of all over the place actually: the New York Times, NPR (and NPR Stations–WBUR, KCUR, WBEZ), The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, Block Club, NBC News, The National Review, CNN, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Slate, Texas Monthly, Reuters, and a bunch of others.
I’ve gone through phases when I add every byline read to Twitter.
I’m 10 days into this experiment, and here is what I’ve noticed so far. My Twitter feed is mostly filled with links to a small number of news stories shared over and over again. Like the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Journalist. That story must have been tweeted by 50 different reporters, and many of them congratulated the reporters on the work. As I type, the story about Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test results is oozing out all over my timeline: Jake Tapper, Manu Raju, and Jonathan LeMire, among several others, are posting it.
I’ve also read some fascinating threads tweeted by reporters to explain complicated subjects, like Jared Kushner’s taxes. I’ve watched Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine and David French of the National Review have a heated but fact-based argument about French’s piece equating Democratic protesters with the President’s calls for violence at his rallies.
I may not keep this up; Twitter is still Twitter, even when hotwired for purposes of explicit news consumption. But it has most definitely moved my experience of the platform away from the takes of people like me and toward the work of practicing journalists.