I certainly never had a lot of Twitter followers, and I think noticing who was following me or unfollowing me based on something I wrote depressed me in small yet critical ways, or made me think of writing something to appeal to more readers—which I found poisonous as a writer—all that sort of currency, or thinking of being a writer as publishing, or as being an author, or as having cultural capital, instead of as reading and writing. Also feeling a fixed identity—a box—and I felt like I was not able to change or refine ideas or be in the process of becoming. That’s why I quit the online world, for now.
I often feel this way too and end up conceiving too much of what I am thinking and writing as aphorisms for Twitter. I end up reading essays not for my own projects but to break them down into Tweets, as if it were my job to simultaneously promote everything I read and promote myself as a pithy promoter.
I would find it hard to quit the online world, and not only because it is more or less impossible to isolate it from a non-online world. I just have found I only bother to write when there is a pretense of an audience, though not necessarily an actual one, whose contours I can constantly track in real time and obsess over.
Tumblr is not an especially good facilitator of this fantasy; like Twitter it seems designed to instigate engagement through metrics, getting users to respond to the scoreboard as well as (or rather than) to one another. I especially dislike the “Activity” graph on the dashboard.
I’m approaching 10,000 tweets on Twitter, and that seems like a “milestone” I should consider converting into a limit.