It’s been a minute since we’ve been here, but as with any perennial scourge, we’re here again: A Big Name journalist is leaving Twitter, and she wrote about it so that we plebes may know why.
Because if you, a person with a following, were to log off a platform that’s done you wrong without a word, would it really count as you leaving at all?
That journalist is the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who tweeted a mere five days ago that she was “taking a break from this platform,” for no reason in particular other than the health of the “discourse.”
That would’ve been enough! Or she could’ve said nothing! Dealer’s choice. She owes me, and you, and the braying MAGA hoards, absolutely nothing.
But she followed that humble pronouncement up—in addition to, you know, still tweeting—with a piece today in the Times where she wrote that “the viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight.”
Twitter is now an anger video game for many users. It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face. For me, it had become an enormous and pointless drain on my time and mental energy.
Haberman also helpfully recounted her past work as a “scold” for younger reporters she thought had “misused the medium.” She explained:
Pictures of themselves at events, inside jokes and conversation fragments were all there for the world to see. They should treat their feeds like news platforms, I huffed, repeating the line from the wonderful movie “Broadcast News” in which a TV reporter says sarcastically, “Let’s never forget, we’re the real story.”
Hmm, OK, this is a bit less sympathetic now.
But Haberman did bring it back to make a good point about the media bubble, and how President Trump has very effectively weaponized Twitter for attacking journalists:
More significant is the way Mr. Trump has tried to turn everyone around him, including the journalists who cover him, into part of his story. And people on Twitter have started to react to me in that same way, treating me as if I am a protagonist in the president’s narrative. I found myself in the middle of swarms of vicious Twitter attacks, something that has happened to many other journalists in the Trump era. He creates the impression that the media is almost as powerful as he is in his incessant, personalized attacks on reporters on Twitter.
But here’s the thing: Most of us don’t want to be part of the story.
Sure, fine, whatever.
In “solidarity”—of perhaps the weakest form, as he recently made not-so-flattering headlines himself—Fox News’ John Roberts announced that he, too, is stepping back from the information highway.
You guys know you can just log off any time you want, right? You don’t need to write about it or even let people know. My advice: just go quietly into the soft night, without a word!
As another soldier in the posters’ crusade falls, you may find yourself wondering, who’s next? Only the Content Gods can know for sure. But rest assured, when the next Name goes offline, you will certainly hear about it.