After Twitter

I’m going to be posting a lot more here now. I finally bailed on active posting on Twitter, at least for the time being. I joined Twitter in February 2015 very soon after my first kid was born as something mindless to do during long immobile naps and the like. Then I started getting some followers and indulging my endless distractibility, and ended up with over 20,000 followers and a lot of posts.

The upsides of Twitter are clear:

  • incredible access to news and expertise from all over the world (for instance, irreplaceably useful for following the Russia-Ukraine war or 2019 India-Pakistan crisis).
  • numerous new connections can be made fairly easily – I discovered a lot of smart and interesting people whose work I now read.
  • opportunities for wide visibility, including in policy and journalistic circles, as well as in Asia.
  • the latter two points are especially useful for someone located in “flyover country” in the Midwest (Chicago is a wonderful city, but not Boston-DC-NYC or the West Coast for international connections), interested in a region on the other side of the world, and, initially, an untenured professor trying to get a bit of attention in a staggeringly crowded marketplace.

I benefited a lot from Twitter, and even ended up writing an article using Twitter data.

The downsides, however, became increasingly apparent (they were always obvious to people wiser than me, like my viscerally Twitter-skeptical wife). Contributions are ephemeral and quickly disappear, even compared to blog posts. South Asia twitter is incredible in many ways, but I wasn’t very good at ignoring the intense vitriol accompanying it – like in many other parts of the site, the path to engagement is either denouncing or being denounced. Academia is a world of endless comparison, so there was a certain amount of unproductive stress that came with seeing people accomplishing many wonderful things that I was not.

Most importantly, I eventually internalized the fact that I say much stupider things when I don’t have an editor, reviewers, or 24 hours of letting something sit. I definitely learned that the hard way, however, after too many cringe-worthy tweets. The inclination to shoot something, anything, off into the void was too strong. As a matter of limiting my own idiocy, a couple years ago I decided to only post news or scholarly articles or anodyne commentary that lacked any real value-added. Yet I still found myself unable to stop from checking notifications and the like, making it the worst of all worlds.

Throw in the Elon Musk misadventure and the chaos it suggested (i.e. Trump being invited back on, the Kanye stuff, etc), and it seemed like a good time to stop. I’ll definitely still read some Twitter, assuming it chugs along, to get up to speed on crises, elections, breaking news, and the NBA, but I’ve hit the flat of the curve in terms of the value I get from it.

I’ll thus be reinvigorating this blog for the couple dozen of you who ever read it. I’ll take a slower pace and a longer shelf-life over the vastly-higher-visibility but fleeting world of twitter. The goal is a mix of substantive commentary with, much more frequently, links, short notes, and photographs.

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