By this time you’re probably sick of all the takes out there about the current direction of Twitter. And a bunch more from someone who hasn’t really used the service for a year and a half — and never really got a whole lot of value from the service apart from following others I found interesting — may not be the best use of my time, or of your.
But I do have some opinions about the takes that are flowing across my various feeds, and I thought I’d air them here. I considered formulating them into some form of essay (not that I’m one to write essays) but that seemed like too much work and, honestly, I didn’t feel like an authority on the subject such that these opinions warrant that sort of treatment.
So I’ll keep it short and sweet:
- Twitter’s not the internet. It never was. It’s just a private service, one of many. Anyone who thinks Twitter is the “global town square” of anything either spends too much time on the service, or has delusions of grandeur.
- It may have cultural sway, but I think the amount that it actually has is a function of the amount of time people choose to spend there. I know for myself there has been various social phenomena have come and gone during the time I’ve been off Twitter. And yeah, I hear about them from those who spend their time there, but that’s pretty much the only people I hear it from. Certainly I haven’t heard it from those that don’t have a Twitter accounts, and most people out there in the world don’t.
- The antics of the current management feel like a distraction to me. I acknowledge that it can have a real world effect on others, but to me it’s a bit of a side show. Yeah, it’s amusing to watch from a distance, but ultimately it’s just that: amusement.
- And while we’re on the topic of being subjected to the decisions of Twitter’s new management, let me say this: I can understand a sense of loss if you got value from Twitter in the past, but I don’t understand the need to stay around with the belief that your actions will sway the direction of the company. That doesn’t seem to me like the best use of your agency. If you don’t like the direction of the company, the easiest thing you can do is leave, and encourage others to do the same. That would probably have a bigger impact on the direction of the company than all the polls, posts, and articles (and tweets) about the arbitrary decision making process of management.
- By all means move your postings to another platform like Mastodon. But consider if you’re happy replacing one platform you don’t have control over with another platform you don’t have control over. Maybe it’s time to consider something like a blog along with your own domain name. You might say that’s too much effort, and I will acknowledge that this avenue involves a non-zero amount of time and money, but I think it’s less effort than you think, and if you’re serious about writing online, it’ll probably set you up better in the long term. Sure you may not automatically get the audience or engagement you had from Twitter. And if that’s something you’re after, that’s OK. But be honest with yourself that it was always about the audience, and recognise that pursuing that comes with a cost as well: namely being able to post on a platform wholly at the pleasure of the platform owner.
I guess I can wrap all my opinions up into a single sentence: the world was always bigger than Twitter. Might be time to explore it a little more.