Over the weekend a lot of stupid things happened on Twitter. If you're not familiar with Twitter, it is a 24-hour news cycle unto itself and so for every meaningful news item you glean from it there are roughly 50 events to parse through that are profoundly stupid, and those 51 events are all treated as equivalent because the talking heads that inhabit Twitter have to continually move on to the next thing, no matter what it may be, in the name of Content.
I'm lucky enough to be so old that my personal epiphany about this came in 2010. I remember where I was—sitting in a 400-level English class, waiting my turn to present a slide deck about Pudd'nhead Wilson, idly scrolling through Twitter, when I came across a tweet that (if I'm reading its author in good faith) earnestly reported on something abhorrent that some Magic player did somewhere in some distant corner of the country that simultaneously annoyed and had zero impact on me. As I began to reply to the tweet it dawned on me: this person and their Twitter account has never made me feel good or more informed about anything; they are just a malaise machine. So I unfollowed the account. It felt great! Who the account belonged to isn't important—if you were playing Magic in 2010, you can probably guess who it was; if you weren't, lucky you—but the point is that you can do this too.
But just like the first sentence in this blog is evergreen, so is its core message: you can also just log off. Maintaining your list of follows is work. Logging off, by comparison, is much easier.
Last weekend, the furor over the The Walking Dead Secret Lair reached its logical conclusion when one of our affiliates, incensed over the Commander Rules Committee's inaction over the Walking Dead wizard squares, created an alternate Commander format complete with its own Discord that was immediately overrun by alt-right jackasses and subsequently shuttered. This all happened over the course of roughly 24 hours. Also some guy got mad that his MODO opponent wouldn't concede to him, which is a thing that probably happens at least every four hours but this guy was actually dumb enough to tweet it and lazy influencers have to dunk on someone so for eight or so hours yesterday it was that guy. This all sounds tedious because it is.
I first met Mitch in fall 2018. He had just started his YouTube channel. What struck me most about Mitch during our calls was how in touch he was with the audience he wanted to engage. Every choice he made about the direction or aesthetic of his channel was with them in mind. He had a clear vision and he set forth with the goal of providing value to his viewers. He also realized that he needed to keep innovating in order to broaden his audience, and he used potential content ideas as a way to further engage his core audience.
It won't come as a surprise that most Magic content creators don't consider their audience. Most content creators in the Magic sphere run the gamut from "talented creator" to "someone attempting to monetize their hobby," but even that binary doesn't really account for user experience. Longevity as a creator has less to do with audience knowledge and more to do with willingness to do the same thing over and over for a long time, but the ability to recognize what your audience wants and needs is what makes certain creators—off the top of my head, The Professor, Caleb Durward, and certainly Mitch—feel larger than life.
This is all to say that even someone as smart as the man behind Commander's Quarters can get swept up in The Discourse. It has nothing to do with negativity versus positivity—a false dichotomy, to be clear—and everything to do with how Twitter is set up to work. If you stay on there long enough your sensibilities start to take on a different shape; Twitter devours nuance whole and leaves its users with the loudest, dullest table scraps.
So if you're having a bad time on Twitter—which seems like what it was designed to do—just log off! I'm not even asking you to put your negative energy towards doing anything else, because that would be pedantic and stupid. Delete the app from your phone, don't open it in a browser, and enjoy opting out of the app that gives you a treat one out of ten times but then gives you third-degree burns the other nine. I would make it mandatory for all our columnists to follow no more than 150 people on Twitter as a condition of writing for us, but that's not realistic—I don't even follow that rule. It's just easier to log off.
Break the chain before it breaks your spirit.