Should I stay or should I go?

UPDATE, 11/28/22: My Twitter account is now locked and I’m only checking it periodically to ensure it hasn’t been hacked. I’m still managing the work accounts so I’m in the loop enough about what’s happening there, but I think it’s fair to say the experience I enjoyed and/or tolerated for almost 15 years isn’t coming back anytime soon, if ever. Better yet, one month later, I’m finding that I don’t even miss at all.

If you’re thinking about leaving Twitter, I’d encourage you to download your data archive and go private rather than deleting your account outright. Besides your username becoming available to anyone in 30 days — with the ability to buy an “official” badge, making it easier for things to get even worse — you may eventually regret losing your tweets if Twitter somehow pulls off a comeback.

I’m enjoying starting over at Mastodon with a “knowing what I know now” approach. Rather than trying to rebuild Twitter, I’m building a smaller, tighter feed of interesting people — some I know, some are total strangers. I’ve also taken steps to rebuild my information network through Feedly to ensure I stay connected to relevant interests in a more sustainable and pleasurable manner. I’m over the firehose; it’s all about slow media for me now.

And before you jump on one of the new(ish) platforms actively chasing people looking for a Twitter replacement, do some research to ensure you’re not just jumping from the frying pan to the fryer. Being online is a daily series of compromises, but at least be aware of what you’re compromising and who benefits before making the decision.

Go private. Go Inactive. Do NOT delete your account.

UPDATE, 11/4/22: I’m not deleting my account, but I am taking an extended personal break from Twitter as of today. See below for other platforms I’ll continue to be active on, including ye olde blogge, and let me know where else I can find you if you want to keep connected.

It’s really happening. One of the worst people in the world has officially acquired my favorite social network, and now I have to decide whether or not it’s time to move on.

Twitter is an irreplaceable platform for me, and I recently learned I’m among its small minority of “heavy users” who drive the platform’s revenue. I’ve invested 14+ years and more than 51,000 tweets in curating an optimal feed that keeps me informed, entertained, visible, and connected to the topics I care about most, and more importantly, other people who share those interests. I’m not as active as I used to be, but I’m still way more active than the vast majority of users, even among those I follow.

I’ve been lucky to avoid the worst of the platform without creating a counter-productive filter bubble, though some of that luck comes from a level of active curation and engagement that I’m not sure I want to maintain anymore. I made real friends, immersed myself in old and new areas of interest, and even got a couple of jobs based on my activities there in the early days. In some ways, I worry I may have inadvertently violated my own rule about external platforms and owning your own domain, letting an important spoke evolve dangerously close to becoming the hub.

For better or worse, I am “extremely online,” at least when it comes to Twitter, and all indications suggest Ksum’s ownership will make things worse before there’s any chance of them getting better. He grossly overpaid, and he’ll either need to aggressively chase ROI or he’ll turn it into another narcissistic playground for himself and likeminded trolls.

Plus, I truly despise him and have zero interest in contributing a single penny to his bloated fortune.

I don’t know when I’ll actually jump ship, if I’ll disengage for a while, or just moderate my engagement enough to convince myself I’m an unprofitable user costing him money rather than earning it for him. I’ve been preparing for this day since his bid was first accepted, though, and I’m ready to jump as soon as his first moves give a clear signal about his real intentions.

I won’t delete my account yet — although I may lock it soon — so here’s where else you can find me if you want to stay connected.

  1. Right here on this blog, which I hope to keep relatively active moving forward. You can even add my RSS feed to your favorite feed reader, including the surprisingly slick Substack Reader app.
  2. My newsletter, which will always be archived here, but will most likely move soon from Revue (owned by Twitter) to another platform that’s probably problematic for other reasons has moved to Substack.
  3. LinkedIn, where I’ll continue sharing occasional posts and commentary of professional interest.
  4. Instagram, where I’ll continue to be a hypocrite and pretend I’m not contributing to Facebook, occasionally posting about car stuff.
  5. Mastodon, which I’m giving another try, although I have no idea what the angle might be.

I’ve gotten so comfortable with Twitter that there really is no single replacement for it. I was trying to remember how I first started using other social networks and why Mastodon — and previously, Snapchat, TikTok, Discord — seems so inscrutable. Personal connections were always the stickiest gateway, followed by engaged communities of interest, both tempered with a splash of skepticism about the platform’s viability and personal relevance.

Beyond these channels, I’ll check out anywhere else the people I really engage with on Twitter move to, because at the end of the day, that’s what really makes these platforms valuable: us.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

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