Fresno firebrand conservative and county supervisor Steve Brandau said Monday afternoon that he was quitting Twitter cold turkey.
“I am deleting my account tonight and throwing away 2,000 followers,” he told me.
Indeed, a search today for his handle on the social media platform turned up crickets.
However, Brandau says he’s sticking with Facebook despite the rough and tumble atmosphere there. More on that in a moment.
Why Quit Twitter?
Given that social media helped Brandau rise from an anonymous small businessman to the Fresno City Council and then the Board of Supervisors, the question is, why leave Twitter?
His answer is what you find in divorce papers: irreconcilable differences.
“Checking Twitter, I’m getting angry before I’m even headed to work,” he said. “It’s not working for me anymore. There’s no real debate to be won on Twitter. There’s no true spirit of conversation. Just divisiveness.”
Brandau, true to his Tea Party roots, says his original plan was to declare his independence from Twitter on July 4.
“Reflecting on it, I didn’t want to act rashly,” he said. “But now I’d rather have an honest conversation than have my fans retweet me 12 times.”
Brandau: I Am as Guilty as Anyone Else
Brandau admits that he has fanned the local partisan divide on Twitter, a land of 1.3 billion accounts and 330 million active users — 48 million of which are bots.
He’s trolled people, and frequently changed avatars. One moment, he’s wrapped himself in the Brexit flag, the next he’s poking environmentalists by adopting a portrait of Greta Thunberg. When tweeting about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus shutdown orders — many of which Brandau has opposed — he’s used a portrait of Dr. Anthony Fauci as his avatar.
“I’ve done everything I’m walking away from,” Brandau said. “Sometimes, I think I’m being witty but the person on the receiving end doesn’t take it that way. Sometimes, my followers take it one step further than I meant it, and my opponents blast back. When somebody engages me, I might tell them to F-off.
“I’m worried about the future. The constant memes about the riots, the whole social upheaval. Nobody is listening to anybody else. Starting the day with 20 or 30 minutes of Twitter is starting the day on the wrong foot — for me, anyway.”
Why Stay on Facebook?
Brandau admits that Facebook contributes to America’s partisan divide, too. The difference between Facebook and Twitter for him, he said, is that “there’s a better chance” for meaningful dialogue among people of opposing views.
“You have real people on Facebook, not somebody named God’s Warrior or Trump’s Captain like on Twitter, ” he said. “There’s more opportunity for people to say, ‘I saw your video and I agree with your first point, but not your second point.’ I’ve had many real conversations on Facebook.”
Brandau said that he expects some local conservatives to criticize him for exiting Twitter, and that’s OK.
“I’m still a conservative warrior, but I want to do it from a different context now,” he said.
Parler is the so-called conservative version of Twitter touted by President Donald Trump’s campaign and Fox News hosts.
“People have said that I’m probably going over to Parler, but I’m not,” Brandau said.