I tried to make Twitter work for me. I failed. I'm okay with it.

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What does each of us start out each day with a new supply of, that costs absolutely nothing (but is one of the greatest gifts we can give), and everyone seems to be trying to charm, beg, and steal it away from us?

Attention.

Some things require it (job), some things deserve it (family), but a whole lot of things want it - social media, commercials, phone app ads, snail mail credit card offers, magazine racks, billboards.. so many things vying for a limited commodity, doing anything to win it. Worse yet, in moments of boredom or frustration, loneliness or fomo, we just hand it over for a moment of relief.

Coming off a digital detox this week, I find myself taking a hard look at everything I pay for with my attention, and considering what stays, what goes, and what should change. I was originally planning on writing a post about how I was going to reinvent my use of Twitter, and I might with other tools, but I've decided to just axe this one.

Bird having a stroke, 2006, oil on canvas.

I've had a love/hate relationship with Twitter for a long time. Maybe it's more of a like/hate thing? Is tolerhate a word? I tolerhate it. I've purged my account before, created a browser plugin to tame it, and even learned AWS Lambda so I could share random blog posts through it. I've struggled to find a good use for it, to make it worth the price of my attention, but I always end up sick of it. I hate that it suggests who I should follow. I hate that it shoves topics in my face, like what reality show is on vacation, why <insert politician> is evil, or who's boycotting who today. I hate that it encourages virtue signaling and sarcastic replies, in the hope of going viral.

If you still want to keep it, here's something to try.

  1. Learn the basics of CSS. Every website uses it.
  2. Download the Stylus addon. Learn how to use it. Apply your own CSS everywhere.
  3. Find some CSS to use. Go to userstyles.world. Crack open the browser tools and start figuring out which elements to hide. The web is your playground!

Here's some CSS selectors for Twitter to get you started. Just prepend lines with /* to ignore them.

/* LEFT COLUMN */
header[role="banner"],                             /* HIDE ENTIRE COLUMN */
/* or parts */
[aria-label="Twitter"],                            /* logo */
[data-testid="AppTabBar_Home_Link"],               /* home */
[data-testid="AppTabBar_Explore_Link"],            /* explore */
[data-testid="AppTabBar_Notifications_Link"],      /* notifications */
[data-testid="AppTabBar_DirectMessage_Link"],      /* messages */
[aria-label="Bookmarks"],                          /* bookmarks */
[aria-label="Lists"],                              /* lists */
[aria-label="Profile"],                            /* profile */
[data-testid="AppTabBar_More_Menu"],               /* more */
[aria-label="Tweet"],                              /* tweet */
[aria-label="Account menu"],                       /* profile button */

/* REACTIONS */
[data-testid="reply"] > div > div:nth-child(2),    /* reply */
[data-testid="retweet"] > div > div:nth-child(2),  /* retweet */
[data-testid="like"] > div > div:nth-child(2),     /* like */
[data-testid="unlike"] > div > div:nth-child(2),   /* undo like */
[aria-label="Share Tweet"],                        /* share */

/* CENTER / OTHER */
[data-testid="toolBar"] > div:nth-child(1),        /* tweet toolbar */
[data-testid="DMDrawer"],                          /* messages slideout */
[aria-label="Timeline: Your Home Timeline"]
  > div > div > div > div[role="button"],          /* new tweets indicator 1 */
[aria-label^="New Tweets are available"],          /* new tweets indicator 2 */
[aria-label="Timeline: Conversation"]
   > div > div > div:not(:first-child)             /* replies */
{
    display: none;
}

/* RIGHT COLUMN WIDGETS */
[data-testid="sidebarColumn"],                     /* HIDE ENTIRE COLUMN */
/* or parts */
[role="search"],[href="/search-advanced"],         /* search */
[aria-label="Timeline: Trending now"],             /* trends */
[aria-label="Who to follow"],                      /* who to follow */
[aria-label="Relevant people"],                    /* relevant people */
[aria-label="Footer"]                              /* footer */
{
    visibility: hidden;
}
[role="search"], [href="/search-advanced"]         /* then show the search bar */
{
    visibility: visible;
}

If I were going to use it, I'd keep notifications and messages visible (so I'm not ignoring anyone) and the search bar too, so I could find people or topics when I want to. Hiding the numbers next to the comments, retweets, and hearts is fun too. Like it or not, knowing how other people are reacting to something affects your reaction too.

Have fun. Make the web better for yourself. And know when to cut your losses.

Author

Grant Winney

I write when I've got something to share - a personal project, a solution to a difficult problem, or just an idea. We learn by doing and sharing. We've all got something to contribute.


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