Article: Maybe We Don’t Need Twitter

by on December 15, 2022

Ever since the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, I’ve been watching the proverbial car crash in slow motion. I’m both mourning the messy, sloppy, but fun little world of people that I had curated for myself and angry at the narcissist that has taken over and we’re still not quite sure what his plan is yet. I’m not quite sure he knows either. Still, I didn’t set out to write a think-piece about how to fix Twitter or what services could replace Twitter or to formally announce that I’m leaving Twitter. There’s plenty of that everywhere else. Instead, I’m wondering if maybe we should just let it go.

After listening to the first half hour of the most recent episode of Connected, I found myself feeling a mix of all of the perspectives presented by Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley, and Federico Viticci. Take a moment and listen—you can stream right from their site and at 2x—I’ll wait.

I think over the course of fifteen years, Twitter has become a bit of an addiction for me. If there was some free time, I’d fire up an app (typically Tweetbot or Twitterrific), and check out what’s going on. The folks I followed were a nice mix from the world of tech, sports, media, and real life and often they didn’t stay in those lanes, which caused me to come across things that I wasn’t always expecting, but also fleshed out the whole person for many of these people. A tweet from David Friedman really summed up the experience and the quick change of tone:

Twitter was the Studio 54 of our time. Everyone who was everyone who was there. It was the place to be seen. The bouncers were weird and arbitrary. People were always high. When they let everyone buy their way into the VIP room, it fell apart.

disco lives forever.

In a weird way, the analogy is true. There were plenty of famous and interesting people that I had no business interacting with on there. You could just jump in on a conversation with anyone, anywhere. The site was at least partially responsible for some of the regime changes during the Arab Spring. I can’t even begin to think of the amount of deaths I learned about on there before any formal news outlet.

And maybe we weren’t meant to have it all at once all the time. Twitter became popular around the time I was getting out of college and eventually moving away from Facebook, so it made a nice way to randomly meet new people on a superficial level. There are a lot of people I’ve had great interactions with on there, but to paraphrase Myke Hurley, I already have my own platform for an audience—just that it’s this site and not a podcast network.

I haven’t deleted my account or this site’s account yet, but I’m forcing myself to check a lot less—moving the app off my Home Screen and adding Screen Time limits. It’s also to hedge my bets that Twitter may end up in the hands of someone else if and when Elon Musk gets tired of it. Still, I don’t like what it’s become and what it stands for, so I am winding things down. I’ve also signed up on Mastodon for both myself and this site. Still, I also find myself not really wanting to try to recreate Twitter somewhere else, so I’m only dipping a toe in these pools.

Going back to Connected, Stephen Hackett’s comment that what is happening to Twitter is ultimately what happens to all social networks eventually rang true. I left Facebook because of different disgust and annoyances and I suspect it may just keep happening. While Mastodon is off to a more idealistic start than Twitter, running it may still come down to the almighty dollar and harmful business decisions may be made. Manton Reece and his team may eventually get tired of and while many of the actual blogs would stay, their “glue” would go away. I’m still optimistic enough to keep going with some of these, but if you’ve been around technology long enough, it’s sometimes hard to want to give things a chance.

With the current, cruel ownership of Twitter, it’s really hard not to be angry at the stupidity and arrogance that is being demonstrated every single day. For me, this has only shown me the type of person Elon Musk really is and I’ve lost all respect for him. On the other hand, dwelling on the soap opera that is going on is not health either, as we’ve seen when Donald Trump was the main character of Twitter for years. It’s time to focus attention elsewhere for our own sakes.

Therefore, if you’re like me and mourning the loss of the good old days of Twitter, maybe you don’t need a true replacement. Maybe this is an opportunity to place something else on your Home Screen or Dock instead that brings you more joy consistently. As for staying in touch with people, maybe there’s always email to fall back on?

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