To me, the writing is on the wall. Here’s my Twitter prediction:
In 1–2 years, it’ll feel like Facebook did after the moms showed up and young people shifted most of their posting to Instagram.
“You still use Twitter?” “Yeah, it’s the only place I can keep in touch with certain people.” “Oh, that sucks.”
In 2–3 years you’ll log in for the first time in a few months. It’ll be full of brands, a few people you never really knew that closely tweeting inane shit, ads, and the odd “haven’t tweeted in a while — anyone still on here?”
The new owner immediately sacked the entire Human Rights, Accessibility, AI Ethics, Public Policy, and Curation teams. Possibly others. I don’t want to use a Twitter that doesn’t have those things. I’ve already had the guy blocked and his name muted for months.1 I don’t want to drive his car, I don’t want to use his social media platform, and I don’t want to spend time with people who think he’s okay.
Even if the dust settles and my personal Twitter experience remains fine, it’s already exhausting. Constant stream-of-consciousness “announcements” and uncertainty around new features or policies that may or may not be implemented isn’t fun or interesting. I don’t have any desire to make mid- to long-term bets on someone else’s company or my daily online life. As someone said (in a tweet), it took only one week for him to entirely destroy the userbase’s trust. It seems like the only people having fun on Twitter right now are trolls with illustrated profile photos. I get the sense that’s going to continue to be the vibe.
So where to next?
Social media has always been a large part of my online life. As a kid I used guestbooks, chatrooms, and message boards. In my teens I was an early adopter of the some of the earliest profile sites with dumb names like like RateMyInfo and What The Dilly. They were mostly full of weirdos like me; when the normal people at high school finally found MySpace, we entered a different era. I went online to get away from everyone but eventually they found me. Still, I did Facebook, did Instagram, and I’ve been on Twitter for almost 15 years.
A few people have asked me if I’m going to use Mastodon next. It seems like that’s the go-to lifeboat, at least for my tech-inclined social and professional circle. I’m just not drawn to it. Mastodon is like Twitter but more complicated and worse in almost every way. It’s possible I might start syndicating posts there if it reaches critical mass and seems interesting enough, but I’m not rushing over.
I asked myself why I would join another social media platform right now and I simply had no good answer. “Everyone else is doing it” isn’t enough. Right now I’m just looking forward to having my time and attention back.
Yes, all the muted tweets have made Twitter especially hard to read through over the past few weeks. ↩