Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson on Monday said he was leaving Twitter after receiving an “endless flood” of backlash inspired by a recent opinion he shared about a plus-sized model on the cover of the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
“The endless flood of vicious insult is really not something that can be experienced anywhere else,” Peterson wrote. “I like to follow the people I know but I think the incentive structure of the platform makes it intrinsically and dangerously insane.”
He continued in a follow-up, “So I told my staff to change my password, to keep me from temptation, and am departing once again. If I have something to say I’ll write an article or make a video. If the issue is not important enough to justify that then perhaps it would be best to just let it go.”
In his following tweet, Peterson wrote, “And I plan to write an article on the technical reasons that Twitter is maddening us all very soon. Bye for now.”
There were several tweets and other interactions following this public departure, however, making some fans question whether Peterson was really exiting the social media platform.
Peterson said he had “recently stopped accessing Twitter for three weeks as an experiment” and had staffers post content in his absence, which might explain why his account was still active.
The 59-year-old author went viral for posting his thoughts on a newly released Sports Illustrated cover featuring a plus-sized model.
“Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that,” Peterson wrote in response to a New York Post headline about Yumi Nu, who was announced as a cover model for the 2022 SI Swimsuit Issue.
Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. https://t.co/rOASeeQvee
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) May 16, 2022
Twitter was swift and brutal, denouncing Peterson’s reaction.
“’Authoritarian’? Chunky women on magazine covers? You sound like a parody of you,” one Twitter user said in response.
Peterson clarified his position, saying, “It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better … but don’t let the facts stop you.”
The “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos” author also shared links to studies that supported the claim that beauty was quantifiable and could be linked to rates of reproduction.
“Standards of beauty change over time. Plus you posted two studies that don’t substantiate your point,” one commenter wrote back. The psychologist’s Twitter feed was flooded with hate and vitriol after he criticized the image.
Peterson also discussed how he felt “genuine relief” after taking a three week Twitter hiatus even before this current controversy. “I started using it again, a few days ago, and I would say that my life got worse again almost instantly,” the professor emeritus explained.
When asked why he used the social media platform at all, Peterson said he’d felt a “moral obligation” to stay on. He then concluded, “Twitter is far more damaging to me than useful.”