It it not lost on me that the most recent post in this blog is about two wonderful Twitter feeds that I had the pleasure of crafting for the past decade-plus. If you want to know more about my experience on the platform, read that before you read this.
“Oh Elon” is how business writer Matt Levine titles all his Twitter screeds about the acquisition, and it’s a perfect encapsulation of how those of us who love Twitter have felt the past six months. The now-complete sale and in-progress upheaval of the essential social media platform have been a can’t-look-away event, startling and infuriating and exasperating and, most of all, sad.
In just a few weeks, Elon Musk has fired or encouraged the departure of the majority of Twitter’s staff, run roughshod over many hard-fought conventions, and made its users fearful that the site would, sooner than later, just stop working. It still seems fine, as of this writing, but Musk is showing his libertarian, nihilistic tendencies; he reinstated Donald Trump’s account earlier this evening, for one.
Many people have started avoiding the site in quiet protest and disgust. I suspect there’s no one moment that will push me off Twitter for good, though. It still fills useful holes in my day, from finding friends and colleagues to informing me about breaking news (and memes). Many of my must-read follows are still posting, so I have reason to stick around.
However, I weaned myself off Facebook pretty thoroughly a few years ago, and I will probably do the same with Twitter, too. I’m not a zealot; I have active accounts with Meta, for example, on all three of their platforms, and I’m actually on WhatsApp daily, because who isn’t? But I only check into Facebook occasionally, when an item of note brings me in (I don’t have the app on my phone), and I peek at Instagram just once or twice a month. My life online seems quite fine. And should Twitter continue its suspected arc—more buggy, more sludgy, more prone to boosting extremist political and anti-Semitic perspectives—I will shift my gaze from there, too.
I created a Mastodon account several years ago but didn’t get very far with it. I knew a handful of people with accounts, but there wasn’t much going on. Scaling social is hard! Well, guess what: in the past two weeks, I’ve come across more than 100 members of my Twitter universe on Mastodon, and activity is starting to pick up. If the trend continues, that’s where I’ll be, whenever I’m in the mood for short-form, public social posts and fast-breaking content.
Twitter has had a very long run. It would be lovely if it could continue.