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For Lent, I had decided to give up a very powerful addiction: Twitter. An update in Apple’s iOS had begun alerting me to how much screen time I was spending on social media each day, and the horrifying tally shocked me into action. Each day, I’d post a photo of my dog and then dutifully close out the app without reading or engaging with whatever was in my feed.
But April 10, without intention, and without even noticing it, I had flicked over to my Twitter feed and encountered a solid stream of photos of a glowing orange donut and the accompanying news that history had been made. (Part of why I did not immediately notice that I was reading tweets: the collective awe and wonder at the story was mostly devoid of toxicity and partisanship.)
Black holes are fascinating for countless reasons, not the least of which is their ability to warp space-time. They pull matter toward themselves so strongly that it bends everything near them.
After a few weeks of being away from the daily Twitter chatter, I have come away more convinced than ever that the platform itself is a kind of black hole, exerting enormous pull and warping everything it touches.
Don’t worry: this is not a column about how I left Twitter and became a better and more enlightened person in the process. On Easter evening, with my 40-day fast completed, I was back logged in reading everyone’s take on the latest "Game of Thrones" episode. All of my usual quirks and flaws are still intact. But it was a fascinating experiment in seeing just how different one’s experience of news consumption differs when it no longer includes Twitter, and how easily the platform warps discussion in an unhelpful way.
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