While I didn’t wait for the ink to dry, and there’s still a chance the deal doesn’t go through, I bailed on Twitter. My issues with maintaining a presence on Twitter are personal, professional and some place in between. I’ve felt for a long time now that the value Twitter provides has diminished considerably as it attempted to be the megaphone of the zeitgeist.
Peak Twitter, in my opinion, was 2017. On two ends of the spectrum we leaned-in in horror during live tweets from an Ariana Grande concert bombing in London, and wiped away tears in both pride and reflection as former President Obama quoted Mandela.
In what felt like a completely different universe all together, Trump’s weaponizing of the platform became so pervasive, it was inescapable. He didn’t need scrums when he had a platform that enabled him to vomit 140 character bile at an ever-grateful media willing to echo his words on broader mainstream platforms. Twitter became exhausting – less of an outlet to discover and more of a reminder of a place where rational thought went to die. In the wake of Trump, hundreds of political copycats attempt to take his place.
But the cherry on the sunday is where I started to draw the line. When the self-proclaimed “Emperor of Mars” decided to make Twitter his platform du jour, we witnessed the true rise of a trust-fund PT Barnum, exceeding his personal brand well beyond the car company he was most famous for.
So, whether it was rewriting his company’s history. Or dissolving his communications department, or following 69 people while fist bumping the SV bros and using a sophomoric license plate naming convention that spelled out S3XY across his lineup of BEV’s, or the fact his “autopilot” is a beta that puts those around Teslas that use it in imminent danger, I can probably come up with an infinite number of irritable things Elon Musk does to tick me off.
Did I mention he rewrote his company’s history?
And yet, 15,000 people showed up to a manufacturing plant turned Coachella in Texas, once again touting himself as the people’s champ. He could do no wrong. He sneezes the word “doge” and makes millions. Delays a cybertruck? Does it matter? No. No it doesn’t.
It legitimately got to me – the hypocrisy of a man who justified his purchase of Twitter on the guise of “free speech” while vindictively blocking the voices of his critics was enough to decide, yes I’m one account amongst the bots and Musk sycophants, but I couldn’t justify continuing to pretend like it was fine to maintain a profile.
This decision also forced me to really think about how I’ve engaged on Twitter, especially since the pandemic. When I really thought about it, I broke down my decision to leave based on aggregate qualitative feelings that laddered up into a pie graph divided into three unequal parts (see the very scientific assessment of my kvetching below).
The Big Reason: Elon Sucks
Look, I have no problem continuing to pile on, because westernized oligarchs are the worst. Possibly as bad as their Russian counterparts. Zuck enabled an insurrection on his spyware social network (sup Cambridge Analytica!), Bezos owns the Washington Post (ironically whose tagline is “Where Democracy Dies in Darkness”, and now we have Elon, who will erase Jack Dorsey and his NFT from the annals of history to proclaim that he solely founded Twitter on the backs of Techbros and dogecoins.
While Bezos plays Neil Armstrong and Zuckerberg beams himself into the second Second Life, the adhage of while the cat’s away, the mice will play holds true if/when Elon Musk finally gets his hands on Twitter. On the flip however, if Twitter sold for $44b and Zuckerberg/Bezos/Cook/etc. thought it was truly that valuable, why didn’t they try to buy it themselves?
And should we even discuss his offer to give 2% of his wealth, approximately $6 billion to end world hunger, only to walk that promise back and ghost the UN?
Second: The Algorithm is a Black Hole
Surprisingly, I actually agree with Elon on this. The algorithm is not good. But, whereas Elon wants to just do away with it, creating a firehose equivalent of an all you can eat Ponderosa buffet where nothing looks or tastes appetizing isn’t the answer either. I’ve maintained forever, it needs to be refined. Yes, search functionality has helped, but I know Twitter was a more engaging platform 5 or 6 years ago versus today. On more than one occasion, I’ve attempted to join conversation after conversation, only to realize Twitter’s one-to-all model doesn’t work. There’s too much bloat. The bots are everywhere. It’s like camping in a sea of mosquitos. Which leads me to…
Reddit is better.
I feel zero FOMO. Probably because there are other digital neighborhoods I enjoy more. I remain convinced that if Reddit were to reach its full potential, it could overtake Google as a search engine and Facebook as a community. The value of speaking with verses to a group is exponentially more compelling than the echo chamber Twitter’s become. More so, Reddit has a far superior mobile experience.
In a sea of copycat features – can you give me one attribute that Twitter does better than anything else? I honestly can’t.
Conclusion? I suppose…
I’m the first to admit I’m a wishy washy social media power user. Years ago, I claimed I’d never own another Apple product. That didn’t last a year.
Then there was the time I voluntarily turned in my blue checkmark and gave my four digit twitter account to a country dancing new york group. Yes, I did that. Don’t ask me why.
Facebook? I took it off my phone. Surprisingly. it’s remained off my phone for almost two years. I’ve been proud of that decision to stop zombie scrolling wherever I can avoid it.
This Twitter decision though? This feels more final. I know that I’m one of a small group who feel as passionately as I do, but I also think I’m right. Twitter is a 44 billion dollar private party that I don’t feel I should have an invitation to. I’d tell you that I don’t think anyone will miss me, but honestly, I haven’t had anything to miss in return in a long, long time.
And I’m okay with that.