(…with apologies to Rep. Maxine Waters)
Back in August I ruminated a bit on how my experience with Twitter as a professional networking tool has changed over the past ten years. Among other topics, I spoke briefly on how Twitter has become less conversational for me and more about broadcasting, for better or for worse. I think a big part of that stemmed from the fact that as my network grew, the number of tweets in my timeline grew from a trickle to a stream to a full-on firehose in the face. Throw in the functional additions of native retweets at some point in the last few years (tweets from people I don’t necessarily follow being shared with the click of an icon by people I do follow, thereby adding even more detritus to my timeline) and not even filtering apps like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck could adequately tame the mess that my Twitter timeline had become.
I recently came across two tools that appeared to hold some promise in helping trim some of the distractions of 2018 Twitter. First is a browser extension called Refined Twitter. Check out Lifehacker’s writeup on it here, but the tl;dr of it is that the extension (for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox) strips away the sidebar trending hashtags, suggestions of who to follow, and personal stats that I can always get on my profile page if I really need to see them (does anyone?). The other key component is that it removes Promoted Tweets from your timeline.
Like pairing liver with fava beans and/or a nice chianti, I’ve found this extension to go very well with a third-party Twitter app called Blindfold. Once you enable access to your Twitter account at Blindfold’s site, the service removes retweeted tweets from your timeline (not including those that were retweeted with original commentary, just the straight-up retweets).
After using these services for only a few hours, I was shocked at how much more manageable my timeline was. Despite following nearly 1,500 people, I was once again able to scroll back a bit in my timeline and actually find where I had left off reading a little while ago. I didn’t realize how much of my timeline was actually just retweeted content, much of which I found to be of little to no value to me. I’ve actually found myself better able to track conversations and even participate in a few from time to time, which is what I found so wonderful about Twitter in the first place all those years ago. Far less noise and far more signal.
As always, caveat emptor and YMMV with any third party apps or extensions, especially those that require you to authorize access to a social media account. After less than a week of using these two services in tandem, for the first time in a long time, I feel optimistic that I’ll be able to bring that broadcasting/interacting ratio back into a reasonable balance and perhaps start to feel like I’m getting similar value out of the tool as I did back in the day.