Tweet Distancing

Fight Information Overload during Social Distancing Season

Ricardo Gerstl
3 min readApr 6, 2020

Ever since I was a kid, I loved being outdoors (mostly around nature). For the past month, the background of my desktop is the closest I’ve been to nature. Most of the time, this lovely mountain landscape is covered by video chat applications, Design & Dev tools, Outlook, the occasional Netflix movie and newsfeeds (mostly Twitter).

So·ci·al Dis·tanc·ing

In order to protect the physical health of their citizens, governments are recommending (and sometimes enforcing) the practice of Social Distancing so that citizens do not get infected nor infect others with the COVID-19 virus. This measure helps slowing the spread of the virus and reduces the number of patients in hospitals.

Also, the reason why my nature-needs are limited to a desktop wallpaper

People are finding unusual ways to keep themselves busy throughout the day: check any social media feed and you become surprised of your peers DIY accomplishments, indoor training routines or baking/cooking skills. Seems there is a like being busy is part of our genes. Yet still there is always some idle time and that is when the problem starts.

The problem

A.K.A. “Three little Birds”

Social distancing together with the news-frenzy around the pandemic can bring as a side-effect a collective information overload. This creates difficulty for individuals to understand the situation and effectively make decisions around it, all because there is too much information about the topic.

Are masks useful? are they not? should I wash vegetables with soap? If I don’t have any breathing problems I shouldn’t care? Is this a Chinese Virus? TOILET PAPER!!!

This results in ever growing levels of anxiety which consequently hamper the mental health of everyone at their homes.

…and Yep, I faced this anxiety as a Twitter user.

The Solution

A.K.A. “The bird cage”

Besides nature, User Experience is my 2nd passion and what has lead me to a fulfilling career. As a UX Engineer my skills also include HTML, CSS & JS so as soon as I had some extra Social Distancing free time, I decided I want to help others that where stuck at home and would want gradually lower their information intake.

Creating a small web app was the first option, but as soon as I set a development timeline: these ideas would take weeks or so to make and some extra time and consumer adoption. Therefore I decide to work on an add-on or extension of an existing product. A Chrome extension fitted my requirements perfectly, that’s why I decide to deep dive into their API and make an extension on my own.

In the spirit of Social Distancing: “Tweet Distancing” was born. This is a Chrome extension created to disrupt the layout of Twitter by limiting the reader to one tweet per page. The UX of this product is meddled so that the design underwhelms the user and dissuades him from consuming too much information.

You may upvote/share/comment the Tweet Distancing extension at or download it at

Keep your body and mind safe: practice Social Distancing and Tweet Distancing.

👋 Hola! Let’s meet! Connect with me on LinkedIn. Follow me here on Medium as well for more User Experience related content.