Farewell to Twitter and hello to the IndieWeb
When I first took notice of Twitter around 2009, I did not have much interest in it. It was initially useful to follow a few accounts, but I did not actively participate much at first besides making a handful of product announcements each year. Years later it became more of a platform to connect and engage. As with any worldwide community, a lot of good things came of it, with many great connections with interesting people and topics. Especially in the past couple of years, it provided as an alternative to Facebook, with a wider variety of interactions with people, especially those you may not know as well as more personal connections on Facebook.
Once the internet escaped the walled domains of universities and governments and was let loose into the clumsy hands of the general populace, it has been used for both incredibly beneficial and nefarious purposes. To quote the hermit from The Bride of Frankenstein, "There is good. And there is bad." However, this is the internet, which provides a platform to display the worse impulses and tendencies of humanity with little to no repercussions for such vile behavior. (It took an insurrection for Twitter and Facebook to finally take action and censure certain individuals who should have had any "rights" revoked a long time ago.)
This now brings us up to the present moment where Twitter was purchased for an astounding $44 billion dollars in late 2022. If the platform wasn't already a shit show in its own right, it was about to become a burning circus show. It's simultaneously amazing and appalling to watch how a single person has managed to destroy a company in such a short period of time. Half of the employees unceremoniously dumped, the rest expected to pick up the remaining pieces, bills not getting paid, and now it looks like third-party Twitter clients have been cut off with absolutely no notice.
The IndieWeb and Fediverse
I recently read through the Indie Microblogging book, which has provided a new perception of social media, especially in regards to blogging and microblogging. There is renewed excitement, energy, and enthusiasm for creating again — owning your own content. It is the joy of rediscovering the Old, and learning the New.
Decades ago, around the 2001-2003 timeframe, I made a lot of short messages on my devlog, more as an artifact to the old UNIX
.plan file, but a precursor to microblogging, years before it ever existed. I might have been on to something before it really took off.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to post, but they control the content and the ways things are run. Consider how many years Twitter has gone without even an Edit functionality to easily fix typos. Much to my delight, such an obvious feature already exists for Mastodon.
There is a benefit of owning everything, with better ease to comb through your own content. If one of these social media silos crumbles, it will take everything with it. So many things have been posted over the years, but as Roy Batty so eloquently put it:
"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in [the] rain"
There is definitely a sense of starting over. Things will inevitably be lost, and other areas, such as discovering new Playdate projects, will likely need to fall in the domain of YouTube, Reddit, and developer forums.
In 2014, I wrote the short story Digital Suicide, a story about digital death, burnout, and starting over. Those three points exemplify what is happening now quite aptly. The death of digital properties. The burnout of so much frustration and related headaches. And the process of letting go and starting anew.
Twitter has become the source of so much "doomscrolling" where a single word or curt phrase could cause severe anxiety to manifest. I've seen numerous people take breaks from social media for their own mental well-being; some have even taken a permanent vacation. I'm currently in the process of archiving and deleting some Twitter accounts (e.g. @kq1redux) and winding down regular usage of my primary account. The biggest change I have noticed has been breaking the habit of continually checking my phone, getting that little hit of "what's new and interesting". But it has also helped distance me from much of the world-wide negativity. Not that the world isn't still delightfully mad at times, but it has helped calm the torrential storm. When I occasionally duck my head back in to the fetid waters of Twitter, it feels like returning to a place where you once lived. Seeing what's new, what's changed, and then getting out as quickly as possible as you are reminded why you left.
Even as I was in the process of writing this post, more bad news kept rolling in from a massive security breach of 235 million e-mail addresses to the inexplicable blocking of popular third party Twitter clients. If this is true that third party Twitter clients have been so unceremoniously cut off without any warning (much like how half of Twitter's employees were let go last November), it's just more reason to get away from Twitter and not support it. As Manton Reece detailed in his book's chapter Leaving Twitter, the company has been restricting API access for years, and this might be the final death knell. As of this writing, Twitter has not officially responded to what is happening and if this is an accident or truly extremely hostile behavior towards other developers who have helped support and build upon the Twitter platform for years. Twitter has been crumbling for years, perhaps it just took the new ownership to topple things even further instead of trying to repair the faults.
My current Twitter alternatives:
I will see how everything shakes out, especially with Mastodon if it proves to be a happier alternative to Twitter, or if it will devolve into a similar cesspool of vitriol. Ultimately, this is a way of starting over again. Fortunately, I had not amassed a huge collection of connections on Twitter, and there will inevitably be connections which will be missed and lost, but for now, it involves finding active accounts which have made the move to Mastodon. Over the years I've invoked my minimalistic tendencies and culled through lists on social media, and this might be the most efficient method of trimming the branches.
How to get an archive of your Twitter data (via the website):
More > Settings and Support > Settings and privacy > Your account > Download an archive of your data
Note, this is not an instantaneous process and will see a message that says: "We received your request. To protect your account, it can take 24 hours or longer for your data to be ready." From my tests, it took about a day before I got a notification that my data was ready to download.
How to deactivate your Twitter account:
More > Settings and Support > Settings and privacy > Your account > Deactivate your account
See you around the chronostream...
An Ode to Twitter
I'll end this by paraphrasing the Scorpions' song "Humanity"
Twitter, auf wiedersehen
It's time to say goodbye, the party's over
As the laughter dies, an angel cries
Twitter, it's au revoir to your insanity
You sold your soul to feed your vanity
Your fantasies and lies
Be on your way, adiós amigo
There's a price to pay
For all the egotistic games you played
The world you made is gone
You're a drop in the rain
Just a number not a name
And you don't see it
You don't believe it
At the end of the day
You're a needle in the hay
You signed and sealed it
And now you gotta deal with it