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Twitter founder: News, including the news on Twitter, is bad for your mental health

Business Insider, an interview with Twitter co-counter Evan Williams:

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Twitter is essentially a news service, and news is important for society, but personally I don't want to spend most of my reading time reading news. I get a lot more value out of other types of content and I think most people do as well. There's a natural urge to know what's going on. It's biological and it's social: What's new? What's everyone talking about? What's this shiny object? The vast majority of it isn't valuable to people and it may be even harmful, and that's well-reported, accurate news.

BUSINESS INSIDER: Harmful because it's misleading people or because it's taking up mindshare that could be used for better purposes? 

WILLIAMS: It's creating anxieties that have no outlet. It's psychologically harmful. TV news is the epitome of this. Its whole goal is the raise enough anxiety that you tune in. It's not to inform or make society smarter. That causes us to have irrational fears about things that are extremely unlikely and highlights those instead of normal things that are actually harmful, like what you eat or watching TV news.

True as far as it goes.

What about creating anxieties that have outlets? ("Anxieties without outlets" sounds a lot like TINA, to me.)

What about news that can in fact both inform and make society smarter? What blogging is supposed to be about....

No votes yet


katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

My most intense experience with Twitter was the few months before the 2012 election. I had a Twitter window up all the time during that period. ... I was following political commentators, news organization and bloggers.

But when I realized that I was in a near constant state panic, anxiety and depression, I closed the window and stopped. It's fascinating but I just can't take it. My emotional health is too fragile, I guess.

Submitted by lambert on

I follow things that don't depress me, like Ferguson activists. Of course, by this time I have pretty strong bullshit filtering and transformation processes in place....