Twitter is a dumpster fire
If you’ve been living under a rock over the past 6 months, you might not be aware of the fact that Twitter is under new ownership. By most measures, it doesn’t seem to be going great. Elon Musk has taken a sledgehammer to the service since he acquired it in October, and my “wait and see” approach has turned to a “can’t look away because the train wreck is so epic” one. Watching Elon drive Twitter into the ditch with his Free Speech Maximalism™ that’s really just shooting from the hip on every decision about content moderation, product strategy and public relations has gotten really tiresome. In fact, I hate writing about it. As a Tesla owner, I really want him to focus more on that company as shareholders seem to be revolting over his lack of attention to his cash cow. The amount of damage he’s done to his reputation and to that of his companies is pretty historic.
I’ve lurked on Twitter for a while and gotten value out of following journalists and indie developers. I’ve discovered a lot of interesting folks to follow and heard voices I likely wouldn’t have heard otherwise along the way. For me, the biggest value I get from Twitter is following a few topics: Apple/tech news, Liverpool FC, FSU/College football, and Atlanta United. I don’t post a lot, but I have cultivated sets of lists for each of those main topics that I keep up with during sporting events or big Apple news cycles. But when the company is run by a scumbag who emboldens some of the worst folks on the web and he enables policies that encourage disinformation and hate to spread, it’s hard to justify the value I do get out of the site vs supporting the societal ills Twitter magnifies.
A lot of the Apple folks have started to leave or post very infrequently but the rest, not so much. So reducing my use of Twitter does mean that I’ll be missing out on some of that commentary when watching sports or keeping up with the news. However, once you stop counting on it, it’s funny how quickly you realize you’re not getting as much value as you think you are.
What I’m doing now
I’ve deleted all of my tweets, locked my account and logged out everywhere, including deleting apps on my phone, tablet and computer. I have an account on Mastodon and check it every day or so, but I’m not posting a ton over there, either. Using a service that helps you find folks who have linked to their new homes from their Twitter profile, I’ve followed most of the people I did on Twitter but my urges to post a pretty few and far between. When I do post, engagement is higher on Mastodon vs Twitter! It definitely feels like the early days of Twitter in that way.
I’m also doubling down on RSS. I’ve used Reeder for a long time to follow a lot of the sites that I enjoy, but now I’m also following about a half dozen folks from Mastodon on there as well. It’s very easy to simply append
.rss to the end of a user’s Mastodon profile and then you have a feed you can follow.
Finally, I’m going to think more about posting here with more frequency. I haven’t really touched the visual layout of the site in a long time and it’s likely I’m missing out on a lot of the visual goodies that WordPress 6.x offers. I might check out some templates and iterate on those. My hunch is that will inspire me to write a little bit more.
What I’m realizing about my professed love for Twitter
Despite the fact that I have fond memories of Early Twitter™ and derive some value out of the lists I mentioned earlier, breaking away from Twitter and spending time on Mastodon has revealed the truth most of us already know….
I don’t really need any of these sites in my life. It’s not worth it.
There are better places to get most of the info I need without wasting as much time (Techmeme, the Athletic, etc). The time I have spent on Mastodon has been fine, and I intend to keep an account over there, but I don’t see myself spending a lot of time or energy on it. Spending more time reading and writing and less time scrolling through pithy comments and performative outrage is a huge win.
Will I delete my account?
About 2 years ago, I deleted my Facebook account and haven’t missed a beat. I also still have a LinkedIn and Instagram account, although I mostly lurk. However, Twitter has always been the social media site that I’ve had the strongest love/hate relationship with. I want it to succeed but I also think most of my positive sentiment is for an era where it felt more like the “early web” and that ain’t coming back no matter who owns the service. I’m not going to delete my account but I also can’t see myself using it again for quite some time.