So I think I’ll be leaving Twitter (now “X”) shortly. I won’t regale you with a long rant on why you should do the same. In fact, absolutely no judgement whatsoever — you know best what’s right for you.
Yes, not wanting to be associated with Musk’s right wing politics plays a part of my decision. But mostly it’s simply not doing anything for me anymore.
I don’t make that decision lightly. For almost 15 years, since March 2007, I’ve been very active on Twitter. For most intents and purposes, it’s been my most stable, visible identity online. Even though I’ve maintained (more or less well) my website throughout that whole time, the action was mostly on Twitter. Today, it’s not anymore.
Like I said, Musk’s destructive influence was probably a key driver in this, but whatever the combination of reasons, the place feels pretty dead to me. Maybe it’s because I had to lock my account to be private and hence restricted to a few thousand potential readers (that, by the way, is chilling effects in action). Maybe it’s because so many people also tuned out, more or less.
Whatever it may be, it’s dead, or maybe undead. I barely have any conversations on Twitter anymore, no feedback. (I get a lot more feedback on Linkedin. Linkedin of all places! How far we’ve fallen. Anyway, I digress.) My needs have changed, the platform and its dynamics has changed. I don’t feel at home there anymore.
Twitter, to me personally, played a huge role. Due to a weird combination of factors, this oddball platform was absolutely central to my career, to building/discovering a community of peers, to learn from so many smart people. I realize this isn’t the average Twitter experience, I started out privileged and got very very lucky on top of that. But the place and the people there meant a lot to me. Now, as the platform falls away around us, I’m curious how many of my former and current peers two or three steps removed I’ll reconnect with elsewhere. It feels like it’s going to be a lot more work for some time to connect or reconnect. Maybe that’s OK.
Robin Sloan sums it up nicely in his newsletter when he says “we are in a crisis of discovery.” But maybe more importantly, I think he’s right in embracing the end of Twitter, or possibly of social media as we know it (as I also believe). Good riddance, time for something new. New ideas need space to grow. So do communities. As Robin suggests:
The strategy is the same as it always was: cultivate small, sturdy networks of affinity and interest. Connect them to each other. Keep them lit.
So yeah, I’m planning on leaving Twitter shortly. I’ve already started shutting down many project Twitter accounts that I’d kept up for archival purposes over the years. What I can delete, I’ll delete while I can.
I hope that doesn’t mean losing touch. My website will stay up, of course, and have information on where and how to find me. I might start putting my newsletter to better use again. And always, email is as resilient as ever.