‘Most People Are Nice’ and Other Lessons From My Twitter Break

This post started as a Twitter thread, ironically

Jeff Giesea
4 min readJul 3, 2022


Dear Medium readers, I am migrating to Substack. Please subscribe to my Substack to continue following my writing.

a few take-aways from “monk mode”

In November 2020, I cut myself off from Twitter and politics. I went cold-turkey. Parenting under Covid, combined with the noise of the election, had gotten to me. I was spent.

Now, after months of observing and soul-searching in “monk mode,” I am dipping my toe back on Twitter. It feels weird. I probably won’t stay for long.

A friend asked what insights I took from my time away. I thought of eight. These are simple lessons — nothing earth-shattering — but I hope you will find something useful in them helpful. Here goes:

  1. Most people are nice. And normal. And have common sense. Shocker, right? But when you are used to life in online political circles, it really does feel like a revelation. Life on political Twitter is warped. The platform’s algorithms seem have a sort of centrifugal effect, goading us toward the spiciest of hot takes, rewarding pathological behavior with clout, and sorting us into tribal fandoms. But most people IRL aren’t caught up in this, and thank God for that.
  2. No, the sky isn’t falling. Returning to Twitter, I am struck by how much catastrophizing there is on all sides. From AMERICAN DEMOCRACY IS UNDER ATTACK to WOKE GLOBALISTS ARE TAKING OVER THE WORLD, catastrophizing is everywhwere. I get it, the drama works. It creates urgency. The problem with catastrophizing is that it creates a sort of wartime logic. We are in a war for ___ and you better pick a side and win by any means necessary. I see this logic a lot on Twitter and in our politics. It often leads to moral compromise & bad decisions.
  3. Social media controls us more than we realize. I used to think Twitter enhanced my independent critical thinking. Now I view it as a web of social and psychic pressures. It activates this performative, dopamine-driven part of our brains. It is creating a generation of mentally disturbed young people. Today’s social media algorithms are unanchored from any sense of public good. It doesn’t have to be this way. In the mean time, staying away is freeing. I feel more independent-minded when offline than online.
  4. Being an influencer is dangerous. Everyone wants to be an influencer these days, especially young people. But being an influencer is dangerous. It exposes you to harassment and bad-faith actors. It encourages your worst traits. It may turn you into an addict, narcissist, or tool of a foreign adversary without you even realizing it. You can be led off a cliff by your own audience. Being an influencer and staying sane takes extreme fortitude. I admire those who can do it. As a rule, I advise against it. Do not trade your soul for clicks.
  5. Space for self-reflection is good. One benefit of time away from Twitter is having more time for self-reflection away from the noise and performative pressures of social media. For me, this has resulted in a new perspective, greater clarity and self-awareness, and more empathy for others.
  6. Political testimonies are powerful. During my time off Twitter, I made an effort to diversity my information diet and talk to people with very different beliefs. It made me appreciate the power of political testimonies. When you hear someone’s story of why they believe what they do and how they arrived there, it is hard to hate them. It is ok to acknowledge someone is a good person despite holding dramatically different views. The political climate is so divisive, you know what’s contrarian? Consensus-building.
  7. There’s nothing more meaningful than building a family, creating life, raising kids. We may have different views about what forms this should take, but isn’t there something universal here? Obviously, you can live a good life without having kids. But man, it is meaningful. Parenting small children under Covid was rough. I remember recognizing the “exhausted parent” look on others at the time. Most parents, I realized, are just trying to hold it together. I certainly am!
  8. Living small can be beautiful. I came of age in circles where scale is everything. “Go out and change the world,” they said. “Live a big life.” But our purpose doesn’t always have to be grand. Positive constraints can be freeing. “Monk mode” can be productive. There may be times you want a big life and there may be times you want a small life. Living small can be beautiful, in fact.

I’m sure there are more lessons, but that’s it for now. Let me know what you think.


Dear Medium readers, I am migrating to Substack. Please subscribe to my Substack to continue following my writing.



Jeff Giesea

Musings on media, technology, national security, and personal development.