I opened my Twitter account on December 27, 2006. I am Twitter user 307,983.
Over the past nearly 16 years, I’ve spent far too much time, energy and attention on Twitter. It has exacerbated my mental health struggles in countless big and small ways. It has absolutely changed the way I write and think by rewiring the way my brain works a bit, mostly without my consent. (To say nothing for the possible destabilizing effects it has had on our society and world.)
It has also been a lot of fun and led to countless personal and professional opportunities. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things I never would have seen without it. Yes, I would even say it has helped radicalize me.
That’s why, despite all the negatives, I kept coming back. The good always outweighed the bad, on a personal level. But the events of the past six weeks or so have tipped the scales and made it nearly impossible to keep engaging as much as I do in good conscience.
I’m not entirely sure what this means for now.
I’m far from the only one having these thoughts. No, I’m not going to delete my account, although others have, for reasons I understand, and I’ve thought about it. Some folks are deactivating, some are allowing their accounts to go dormant, and some are trying to stay and fight the good fight.
Many have already fled to other “competitors” hoping to vacuum up the users (and their attention) that Twitter is hemorrhaging.
- There’s Mastodon, a decentralized network made up of thousands of interoperable servers/communities. I’ve joined jawns.club, the Philadelphia-centric community run by Alex Hillman (of Indy Hall acclaim). It admittedly has a lot of “Twitter circa 2008-2010” vibes so far. (I mean this as a compliment, to be clear.)
- There’s Hive, which seems to be trying to create a more “aesthetic” version of Twitter. After reading this profile, I doubt I’ll exploring Hive much.
- And there’s Post, a VC-backed platform focused on “civility” which thinks treating net worth as a protected class is more important than basic accessibility. Their values are clearly not aligned with mine.
I want to suggest another alternative.
What if, instead of worrying about what crazy hijinks Elon Musk will get into next, or whether Post or Hive will take off, or fretting over choosing the right Mastodon server… what if we all went back to blogging? Write on our own websites, syndicate those thoughts to various networks, take advantage of those communities and relationships we’ve cultivated, and own our own posts on a domain we control?
That’s my strategy for now. My site, on which this post was first published, is running on Micro.Blog. It lets me post short notes (like tweets), longer pieces (like this one), photos, static pages, you name it. It also lets me syndicate those posts to a bunch of other popular networks (like Twitter, Mastodon and Tumblr, to name a few). This is known as POSSE (Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere), and is far from a new idea. But it makes sense to me.
So, for now, I’m going to refocus my efforts to write on my own site first. No time that one spends creating content for one’s own site is ever wasted. I’ll still dork around on Twitter on college football Saturdays, but I want to be much more intentional about how I prioritize my publishing energy.
I’ll syndicate to Mastodon, Tumblr, and maybe even LinkedIn or Medium when it makes sense. Micro.blog makes this trivially easy. And yes, I’ll syndicate to Twitter, too. This way, I’ll still have that reach and opportunity for reaction, but the original post will be mine in a way that my tweets never were.
And I’ll hope beyond hope that the Twitter we knew and loved survives this chapter. But I’ll be ready if it doesn’t.
Friday December 2, 2022