Three months ago, I removed Tweetbot from my phone: I was spending too much time on Twitter, and getting too caught up in the hour-by-hour drama of politics. And that was definitely the right choice: I spent less time distracted and less time worrying about stuff that I can’t do anything about on the timescale when those worries appear.

I didn’t stop reading Twitter, though: I read it on my iPad at home instead. And what that revealed was that Twitter wasn’t causing problems just by being a distraction: the volume of time I spend reading Twitter instead of doing other things is higher than I would like.

Thinking about that more: if I run a thought experiment of what I would spend my time on if I magically had much more non-work time, I absolutely would not answer “follow more people on Twitter”. So that’s another signal that, yeah, I should reduce my Twitter usage.


The next question is: how? The obvious thing to do is to follow fewer people, until the amount of new tweets each day matches the time I want to spend on Twitter. A second option would be to stop being a Twitter completist: put in a time budget and accept that sticking within that means that I’ll miss stuff. And, of course, there’s always the option of quitting Twitter entirely; certainly the company’s behavior makes that attractive.

The problem with the first option is that I feel like I’m getting something valuable out of everybody that I currently follow on Twitter, I’ve pruned my follow list pretty well over the last year or two. The problem with the second option is that I have friends whom I follow where I actually don’t want to miss stuff they post. And the problem with the third option is the combination of the problems of the other two options.

That second option, though, gives a potential way forward: most of my timeline consists of people who aren’t my friends and who post in fairly high volumes. I’m following them for a reason, they do post interesting stuff, but, honestly, I’ll be fine if I don’t read everything they post or even most of what they post.

So I think what I want to do is divide people into two classes; find a way to be completist for one class; and only browse the other class.


The next question is: how? And I could use some advice here: this feels like it must be a standard problem, but I don’t really know how to solve it. Ideas that I’ve had so far:

1) Create two separate accounts, following the different groups of people on different accounts.

2) Only follow my friends on my main account, but create a private list for people I want to browse who aren’t my friends.

3) See if enough of my friends are on Mastodon (or, but that seems less likely) that I can make do with that.

4) Write a client of my own that can do this!

Also, whatever solution I end up with, I have a fairly strong preference for being able to carry it out on my iPad, though I can imagine using a computer to browse non-friends.


Thoughts? Any ideas that I’m missing? Does Tweetdeck have some magic solution to all of this? Here’s how I see the above:

1) This seems straightforward enough; though one downside that I see is that I can see myself accidentally replying from the wrong account, and in general account confusion isn’t great.

2) It feels weird not showing as following people whom I actually am paying some amount of atention to? And I’ve never used lists before, so I don’t really know how that works.

3) This is pretty tempting, actually: I do want to move off of Twitter, after all. I feel like other options aren’t well enough developed for this to work yet, but who knows.

4) This idea is, of course, ridiculous. The only serious argument for it, though, comes from the thought experiment mentioned earlier: one of the things that I would spend more time on if I had more time is some sort of personal programming project, and learning about iOS programming would qualify. Also, I wouldn’t have to write a full-fledged client: it just has to be enough for a subset of personal use, so rough edges are fine, and it doesn’t have to support reading direct messages or being notified about replies, I can use other apps for that. And it also has the side benefit that it would give me an excuse to pay money for an iOS developer account, which means that I could keep my custom Tokyo Mirage Sessions iMessage sticker pack permanently installed on my phone instead of having its certificate expire every week!


Writing that out, I think I’m going to take option 2, but I’ll actually think somewhat seriously about option 4? And if anybody has any pointers about this, I’m all ears: it feels like what I want to do is standard enough that somebody must have written up the best way to accomplish this?

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