I thought I was releasing my flighty words into the world with every tweet, but in reality, Twitter was just a bird cage rapidly filling with every inane utterance I flung into it.
Why do I do it?
It started when a previous Medium post I published with freeCodeCamp got some attention and plenty of likes and shares.
After the initial buzz died down, I noticed that on a weekly basis there was one user that kept sharing a tweet about it — same format each time — and only a handful of other tweets in his timeline. There was some mention in his bio about ‘ephemeral Twitter’ and I realised he was deleting old tweets automatically, and must also have a bot re-posting previous tweets if there was no new content to replace the old.
Why would anyone do this? Well, he wasn’t alone, and once I was introduced to the idea, it kept popping up as a compelling solution to some of the things that make me uneasy about Twitter.
The sometimes irreverent, usually argumentative, and often silly way in which I currently engage on Twitter doesn’t really serve any long-term goals of mine. The idea that all my nonsense sticks around for any of my students, their parents, or other interested parties to delve into was a little troubling.
My primary reason for regularly purging the historical record of my tweets, though, is that I am regularly finessing my beliefs and opinions — sometimes changing my mind about issues completely.
‘280 characters’ does not really do finesse, though.
Those old tweets just sit there reminding me of beliefs I held long ago, and usually feel like I’ve progressed away from. Keeping them around serves no purpose.
I like the idea that Twitter is conversational and current. I feel like Twitter is supposed to be ephemeral, but in reality it is not.
So, I wrote a node bot that deletes all tweets and unlikes any favourites that are more than 10 days old. I scheduled this to run on a free Heroku instance once a day so it automates the process without me having to think about it, or rent a server for this tiny task.
How do I do it?
The original version of this post had a detailed line-by-line explanation of how to write the bot yourself. These days I feel like that makes for an unecessarily long post, when all you really want to see is the code. To that end, here is the code on Github: Tweet Delete Bot. The README.md contains instructions on setting it up yourself.
Set it and forget it!
You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And tweet it like you’re gonna delete it.
…and then delete it, obviously!