Thursday, 11 January 2024

On leaving Twitter

When I first heard of Twitter, I really didn’t get it at all.  It was only several years later, after I got my first smartphone, at the start of the last decade, that I started to get an inkling of the point of microblogging.  I signed up for an account and quickly got hooked.  Just over a decade later, I’ve finally given up on the platform.  Not microblogging as a whole, just on Twitter.  One of the things I loved about Twitter was that everyone was there.  From my real-world pals, to people working in my industry, to celebrities, to journalists, to companies.  You could keep up with breaking news; you could complain about a company, and stuff would often get done; and you could just post memes at your friends.

It wasn’t perfect.  Content moderation was never as strong as it should have been, and when everyone’s there, that attracts bad actors, trolls, mischief makers and so forth.  But it was never bad enough to drive me away.  Until Musk took over, and made everything ten times worse.  I nearly stopped when he killed third-party clients, but I grumbled and made the move to the official (and much worse) client; but when I realised that my feed was mostly just news, companies and adverts, I just gave up.  The fun stuff that used to intersperse the doom was gone.

I didn’t stop immediately.  I had had a Mastodon account for some time, and so went back to have another look.  Lots of people were jumping ship and creating Mastodon accounts, so I had  bunch of people to follow.  But I’d also still drop in on Twitter regularly.  A few months later, Jennie emailed me asking if I’d like a BlueSky invite, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I now split my time between the two platforms, which have a different feel to them, and eventually stopped checking Twitter entirely.  Mastodon still feels like the Linux of social media, despite various changes to improve the experience of people joining the service a number of things still feel clunky; whereas BlueSky seems more mainstream (albeit oh so horny!).  It’s also still in beta, which, of course, affects the feel of it (if we’re friends, and you’re not yet on BlueSky and would like to be, ping me for an invite).

So I’m still on social media and microblogging.  But also, I think that people should go back to writing longer form thoughts on their own blogs, which won’t be vulnerable to awful billionaires buying them up and destroying them.  And we should bring back RSS for aggregation (I still don’t understand why the BBC dropped RSS on their journalists’ blogs, but then, the BBC have made some baffling decisions regarding their news site over the last few years).  I was scarred by Google killing Reader, so rather than move to one of the other cloud-hosted services, which might also just disappear, I set up a web server on a Raspberry Pi and run my own RSS aggregator there.

Twitter at its best was a wonderful thing, and I don’t think we’ll see something like that again, as social media is now fragmented into all all these different services.  But like I say, I’m not going to stop microblogging.  I’m on these services and I’m going to keep posting on both of them for the moment.  Until the next calamity, when I guess I’ll move on again.  I’ll even try to post here a bit more frequently.

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