On Twitter

Published on by David A. Kennedy

I wonder if Twitter will last.

Many have had the same thought after a frantic week at the company. Both The New York Times and Casey Newton published accounts of the events since Elon Musk took over the social media giant.

The chaos has me thinking about how I use the platform. I’ve seen many of the 200 or so folks I follow duck out or start experimenting with other social networks or blogs. Should I continue to use the service?

So far I’ve answered yes. But will that hold? Maybe not.

On my best days, Twitter helps me find fantastic information and people. Most of what I view comes from a tightly curated list of accessibility professionals and web folks, which helps fuel the links I share in my weekly accessibility newsletter. If Twitter vanished tomorrow, that becomes harder.

On my worst days, Twitter sucks me in. It makes me feel like I’m keeping up. But with what? It’s what the timeline prioritizes, not what I prioritize. The tweets keep coming, and I’m half paying attention to everything instead of giving my full attention to one important thing.

I don’t post much original content on Twitter. I doubt I would scramble to save my tweet archive to serve it up elsewhere. I bet a few tweets would have made better blog posts on this site though. Short posts have value, but Twitter creates a culture where the amplification (retweets and likes) of the content degrades its value. Everyone vies for more attention rather than understanding. You have less time to sit with something. Digest it. Nurture it.

Of course, not all tweets need pondering. But if we’re all reading this stuff daily, it’s natural to think about some of it. So it will evolve you in a way no matter what. You have a choice. Because you could find a better culture elsewhere.

I’ve looked at Mastodon and Micro.blog as alternatives to Twitter. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Mastodon seems like the place to go because many others say they’ve set up profiles there. I signed up too, but haven’t used it. It feels too much like a Twitter clone with little originality on offer, despite its federated nature. Many of the instances also seem unstable thanks to the influx of new signups.

Micro.blog has features I appreciate because of its embrace of the open web and the indie web. It feels more intentional in its design and the culture it creates. After all, it lacks retweets or likes.

I hesitate to start fresh anywhere else though. Having another profile somewhere creates unnecessary friction for me. I’ll stick to blogging more here to start, short or long, and see how far I get. Perhaps my Twitter account goes the way of my Facebook account. It’s there but I hardly use it.

Maybe, as Susan Robertson says, an exact replacement isn’t needed:

Unlike many folks, I’m not looking for a replacement for Twitter. And, to be honest, I’ve deleted all my content from Instagram too. I’m not sure helping these companies make money is good for me, so I’ve been searching for alternatives to find interesting things on the topics I’m into. To my delight there are a lot of folks still blogging about the things they do and I love it.

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