Two(+) Weeks without Twitter

Apparently Jack Dorsey has finally started to realize that Twitter is problematic. Here I am, having been off Twitter for more than two weeks, and I have to say on a personal note, I feel happier, healthier, and more together than I have in a long time. I find myself blogging more. Reading in depth more. Playing more guitar.

The inbetween moments where I would reach for Twitter, only to develop a new bout of anxiety are gone.

I'm not perfect: I definitely am polling parts of the web more than I used to (which ends up being random reward, another problem).

However, overall, I feel myself to be in a much better place. As a result I think I may be staying off Twitter when this experiment ends.

I really hope that Jack and Twitter can fix some of its problems, for those who choose to stay (and there are great people and great things that happen on Twitter). I just don't know that I can be on there, perhaps because of my own weaknesses as a person.

This isn't the first time I've kicked an internet habit because it was bad for me; I did the same for Reddit years ago, Slashdot before that.

The Netflix Funnel

Over the last little while I have found myself increasingly conflicted about streaming video services like Netflix and CraveTV (the two Andrea and I subscribe to). While we still find things to watch, I worry about the way they funnel our viewing habits, maybe in ways we don't always notice or pay attention to.

Consider the dominant streaming video service, Netflix, which now has more subscribers than all cable providers combined. While Netflix has grown more popular, it has diminished its content to the point where it recently hosted only 25 movies made before 1950, as Zach Schonfeld pointed out in Newsweek. “It’s the sort of classics selection you’d expect to find in a decrepit video store in 1993,” Schonfeld wrote, “not on a leading entertainment platform that serves some 100 million global subscribers.”

The above quote comes from this article on Pitchfork making a similar argument about my concerns, but projecting forward streaming music services.  In Canada, I checked using, and found 18 movies before 1950,  almost all of which are documentaries, in turn, almost entirely about WWII. It doesn't get a lot better quickly:

  • 1950-1960: 12
  • 1960-1970: 18
  • 1970-1980: 35
  • 1980-1990: 94
  • 1990-2000: 193
  • 2000-2010: 787
  • 2010-2018: 4369

I totally understand Netflix's position here: They need subscribers to make money, and most people want to watch the newest stuff. I think I find this  fascinating because it's a non-algorithmic example of the ways in which our behaviour is altered by large corporations, and in this case, I can't even really ascribe malevolence. Yet the power wielded by Netflix seems undeniable. I know personally, despite having an interest in watching some old movies, I find its relatively rare for me to go try to find them, because there's always something on Netflix that could be watched. Yet, as the above info shows, it's unlikely what I watch on Netflix will even a decade old.

Maybe the way I handle this is a redoubled love for the public library.  I've been wanting to watch "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" for years (since Eliott Kalan of The Flop House podcast doesn't stop talking about it), so in writing this post I finally put the DVD on hold. Of course, compared to Netflix, one of the downsides to the library is inventory.

All Copies in Use

Then again, perhaps the limited inventory is a good thing, by creating some mindfulness in the consumption. Since I know how in demand this DVD is, when I get it from the library, I will almost certainly watch it while I have it. Whereas, if I found out The Taking of Pelham One Two Three showed up on Netflix, I may dither and dither until it leaves the service and I've missed it.

Book: The Fifth Season

Last winter, on our annual cottage trip with friends, I read a book (described in reviews as a "laugh-out-loud sci-fi love story." believe it or not) that had a chilling rape midway through. The book tried to redeem itself, tried to somehow earn the rape. It absolutely didn't work. To this day, I find it baffling how this aspect of the book seems to be totally skimmed over in every review I've read of it.

Anyhow. That digression was a bit of a warmup for why I found reading N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season incredibly stressful. I think it was mostly state dependent memory: I read 95% of the book while we are at the cottage on this years edition of our trip. And most of the book was fantastic: an incredibly interesting world, unlike any fiction I'd read before.

Yet, as I approached the end of the book I became gripped with a fear that the book would end with the revelation of sexual abuse. A climax was coming, I could feel it, and I knew that for some authors, the way to hammer home a characters pain would be to introduce sexual violence. I found myself stuck, unable to continue. In fact, I first started writing this review at that 95% point, not entirely convinced I'd be able to finish.

In the end, I found a sympathetic friend, who I sent seeking answers in plot summaries. He ended up giving me the all clear.  I also ended up googling "N.K. Jemisin Sexual Violence", and found this article by her that assuaged my fears.

In the end, I finished the book. It's full of human pain, and a world that hates humanity. No sexual violence though, thank goodness. Still, I find myself putting the sequel on my for-later shelf at the library. I definitely want some time to recover from The Fifth Season.