I’m Glad My Twitter Died

A belated cold take — just the way I want it now

Caitlin Kunkel
6 min readDec 12, 2023

This essay was originally published in my free creativity newsletter, Input/Output. Subscribe here!

It’s been eleven months since I posted one last time on Twitter, closed the app, deleted it off my phone, and never opened it again.

I’m not going to get into Elon Musk here because millions of words have already been wasted on how bad he is at business, life, and remembering to do leg day.

Instead, I want to share some of the expected and unexpected benefits I’ve found since quitting Twitter (X? I don’t know her), where I had my largest audience. If you’re in the grieving stage or considering moving to one of the many alternatives (Threads, Bluesky, Mastodon? Still a thing?) read on!

Here are some of the expected benefits

  1. I have more mental space. So, so much more mental space. I do not need to know what thousand of people think about breaking news or a meme or the day’s internet villain. I wish I had never heard of Bean Dad or spent days reading the Bean Dad discourse. Now, I will never learn of future Bean Dads, and I am profoundly OK with that.
  2. I can take more time to understand a story before feeling pressured to have a take on it, or, GASP — never have a public take at all. In fact, I don’t share my thoughts on the vast majority of the news anymore with people outside of my immediate friends and family. By the time I left Twitter it felt very much like “if you don’t comment on this story IMMEDIATELY you are supporting oppression/racism/genocide/bad things!!!” But the rush to make it clear I was on the “right side” (also interrogating that concept a lot more these days) to an audience of people I had primarily never met was robbing me of a chance to gather more insight, listen to other voices, and generally learn to shut up 98% of the time. Shutting up is a skill and it should be taught in school!!
  3. I no longer have to see that men’s fashion account constantly, every fourth tweet. And all the other accounts I didn’t follow but were constantly being pushed into my eye line and brain stem. By the time I left, I barely saw tweets from anyone I knew or followed. It was exceedingly clear what was being pushed, and it was nothing of interest to me. Related to that —
  4. It was boring. The spark of what made Twitter exciting at the beginning (Opportunities! Conversations with people you previously didn’t have access to! People figuring out how to go viral through weird characters and stunts!) has been gone for a while. Once mascots of brands begin using a platform for shock value and engagement, can it ever really be interesting again?

And here are some of the unexpected benefits:

  1. I was being infected by internet speak without even realizing it. The way people spoke on Twitter has evolved over time and as I turned to writing fiction in 2020, I wasn’t aware of how deeply that linguistic shift impacted my own work. A friend in my writing group pointed this out to me (rightfully!) in her feedback when I used the very Twitter-esque joke of writing “one (1).” She said that that type of formatting worked online, but made fiction feel dated and attached to a certain time period. When I read that comment, the scales fell from my eyes and suddenly, all I could see was the way Twitter phrasings and shorthand had wormed their way into my brain. I’m still working on this, but almost a year off has allowed me to excise many of those phrases from my manuscript and life. I’m pretty embarrassed about this — I purposefully avoid brand names in my writing to lend a more timeless quality, yet I was using slang that could be pegged to within a six month time period. I’m very glad I’m in Twitter-speak recovery!
  2. Related to that: I was constantly striving for brevity and punchiness on Twitter, when in real life I needed to go deeper in my writing. Twitter was great for me in 2011 as a new comedy writer who needed to learn how to craft setups/punchlines, point out absurdity, and generally have fun with words. But by the time I left, those skills had become way less applicable to the type of writing I was doing and hampering my ability to create longer, more complex sentences and images. I would have to consider the basic Twitter version of a sentence first, excise it, and then write the real one with actual nuance and imagery. This…takes more mental effort than just writing once. I’m getting better.
  3. I’m not as irritable when I’m online. By the end, beyond the barrage of news, it was incredibly irritating to watch people go viral over and over again for leaning into what Twitter prioritized — outrage, bad takes, idiotic commentary, and lowest common denominator humor. This applies to many comedy writers I know! I don’t blame them, really, for following the favs and retweets, but I still disliked their online personas even knowing they weren’t like that in real life. And I do think that feeling trickled into some of my actual relationships. I’m so glad I never again have to see someone I respect tweet a hack joke on a trending topic and then tag Denny’s in the replies for clout. Second-hand embarrassment was killing me.
  4. Twitter stopped being real writing — for me. I know for some journalists, they broke news and the platform was extremely important to them. Same with medical professionals during Covid, though obviously misinformation also spread eagerly there. But for years, there was definitely a sense among comedy writers, myself included, that Twitter was real writing. It could help you grow a platform which in turn could lead to bookings, a book deal, writing for TV, even. And this was true! I definitely think my Twitter following helped me get the book deal for the comedy book I co-wrote, and the piece going viral on Twitter led to an editor reaching out (she acquired it!). But that was five years ago. And as I’ve written more and more fiction, and on topics other than comedic ones, I felt like tweeting was simply a drain of my creative resources that could be used for more permanent/challenging work that would belong to me. I truly do not like that idea that part of the accepted unpaid “work” of writing is making money for corporate platforms by providing them with content. If a publisher/agent/other writer says you HAVE to be on a certain form of social media, I would consider if they are a very creative thinker themselves. If you enjoy using a platform and find it creatively fulfilling (as I did the first five years I was on Twitter) go for it. It’s the expected and mandatory nature of free labor that I take issue with.
  5. I simply don’t want to talk to that many people, ever. The very thing that once lured me into using the platform began to seem actually insane. Why would I want to give strangers the ability to send me rude messages and ask me for outrageous things? Email already ruins my life enough, and there’s a tiny barrier to entry there (getting the email address) that prevents some of the most egregious messages from getting through. I wonder if we were conditioned to think of ourselves as public utilities, always on, always available, all in the name of building “a brand,” and forgot that our boy Dunbar already figured this shit out for us.

What are your thoughts on Twitter and short form writing on the internet these days?



Caitlin Kunkel

Satirist + pizza scientist. Co-founder of The Belladonna. Sign up for my newsletter, Input/Ouput: https://inputandoutput.substack.com/