Reflections on four-months-after-Twitter

Posted on 2 minute read

It’s coming up on four months this week since I left Twitter, and I started wondering about the impact of that. On the whole, I’m still quite fine with the decision. (If you need an itemized list of how Twitter is falling short of its history and its idealized self, I’m sure I could dig one up.) There are certainly people that I miss that have not found their way onto Mastodon (or we haven’t re-found each other yet). There is a nagging fear-of-missing-out on enjoyable and valuable conversations.

One gut reaction that I find I’m suppressing is calling out bad corporate behavior. Companies of all sizes had a Twitter presence, and I could publicly @-tag them with messages of outrage, disappointment, rejection, and sometimes support. It felt cathartic, and I occasionally had a nebulous feeling of community when others liked, retweeted, and replied. In retrospect, it may not have been all that useful. Do we go back to filling out web forms in a company’s “about” section or—gasp!—writing a letter and putting it in the mail?

A good portion of the accounts I followed and had notifications enabled have made it over to Mastodon: Have I Been Pwned and The Oatmeal are here now, for instance. Some, notably local government and law enforcement, county road crews, and the nearest National Weather Service Office are not here. Even their Twitter presence is becoming less useful:

As a long time internet user, I also miss the uniqueness of Twitter as a meeting point. Our online personalities are—at the same time—more diffuse and more siloed than ever. Not everyone was on IRC, nor could IRC support everyone talking at the same time, for instance. Twitter was unique in that one’s reach had near-infinite potential with very little effort required. And maybe Twitter would have ultimately collapsed under the weight of that infinite potential…it certainly had its problems and challenges, even in the best of times.

When I last wrote about Twitter here on December 19, 2022, I said:

The past eight weeks on Twitter have been emotionally tiring, and I wondered why. On reflection, mourning seems like the most appropriate label for the emotion I’m feeling. I had invested time and effort into cultivating a network of friends and acquaintances. Now it is being destroyed; that network was a guest in someone else’s kingdom.

My sense of mourning has changed: it’s no longer about that lost network of friends and acquaintances in someone else’s kingdom; it is now about the lost potential and wondering if we’ve learned the lessons we need to from that Twitter era.