Saturday, January 9, 2021

Goodbye to All That















Well . . . I’m back.

Yesterday I ended my eight-year dalliance with Twitter @scienceofscent. The precipitating reason was Twitter’s political censorship: it had reached such an intolerable level I could no longer associate myself with it.

I rarely posted about partisan politics. I figured my 1,440 followers wanted my take on sensory issues in science and culture, not my political views. The closest I came to expressing them was in posts about free speech and academic/scientific/commercial integrity. Spoiler alert: I believe in free speech and scientific integrity.

Few of the scientists I followed share my scruples. They salt their threads with political tweets and casually assume everyone agrees with their POV. (They are academics, so when on campus they assume correctly.) Especially grating are the Europeans who freely opine on American politics and society; personally, I wouldn’t presume to lecture Brits on Brexit, or Germans on the EU.

Another reason for leaving is that Twitter is now less engaging. There’s a big, interesting world out there and just not enough time to read the daily stream of humble brags (“so proud of my team’s newly published paper”) or flame wars on the biological basis of consciousness fought in 280-character salvos. The guarded, deliberately evasive language of some tweets isn’t worth the time it takes to puzzle them out. Finally, it’s my impression that comments in replies and retweets—the “social” part of social media—have become less frequent and less interesting.

To be fair, commenting on FirstNerve (and blogs in general) had declined as well, as people were drawn to the rapid fire adrenaline hits of likes and retweets. But I’m back here now hoping to rekindle the discussion by providing longer form coverage of all matters sensory.

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