I can understand people deciding to leave Twitter. However, before just jumping to yet another social media platform, perhaps it would be wise to take this opportunity to reevaluate whether moving to any social media platform is a good idea.
In a recent post, Brent Simmons argues that the dominance of Twitter has always been a bad idea:
“The internet’s town square should never have been one specific website with its own specific rules and incentives. It should have been, and should be, the web itself. Having one entity own and police that square could only deform the worldwide conversation, to disastrous ends, even with the smartest and most humane people at work.”
Simmons calls for a return to the independence, control, energy, and creative freedom of the web.
Joe Moyer also supported this viewpoint in his post. He writes “Maybe one positive from this shift will be a resurgence in blogs and websites with valuable and engaging content and ideas.”
I piggybacked on both of these posts and wrote “Instead of just whining about Elon Musk and Twitter, I hope that the Twitter meltdown will prompt creatives to rethink past practices, recognize the danger of using social media platforms, and build their own platforms on the web. A following can still be built using web links and RSS feeds. If a forum is desired, so followers can interact, there are off-the-shelf solutions available. Twitter, Mastodon, Facebook, etc. need you. You don’t need them to have a voice.”
The problem with social media is people go to the sites their friends and family use. Google+ was popular with a segment of the tech crowd but it could never gained any traction with the general public. Twitter is/was popular with the media which boosted its image but it is smaller than Pinterest and only slightly larger than Reddit.
I don’t know how anything other than another large organization could get the world’s attention.
This is a conversation I have been having with myself. So much so that I have “parked” my Mastodon account. I found it was just making me annoyed because
a) people were crowing about it being a huge departure from Twitter, which it plainly isn’t, and
b) to quote my wife (in her case about our local town supermarket) “everybody wants to be your ****ing friend!”
If Twitter does go up in smoke, I have decided I will just quit Twitter. Not go somewhere else. I still have communities like this which bind over (some kind of) a shared purpose, rather than just being a haphazard meeting place. I think it’s that shared purpose that makes these places work, because there is an accepted standard of behaviour.
I’ve more of less abandoned social media, mostly for the sake of my mental health. Unfortunately two of my professional peer groups insist on disseminating information exclusively via Facebook, so I still have to pop in occasionally.
I’m enjoying RSS again… it effectively doing what I used Twitter for without the algorithm giving me things I’m not interested in and attempting to suck me into pointless discussions. It needs repackaging and rebranding in an appealing way to gain mass acceptance… and of course it’s a one way street so won’t please everyone.
I like Reddit, up to a point, being interest-led rather than influencer-led, but it does push a lot of offensive content, even if you have controls turned on.
The answer to the question “why jump” is that social media works for you - and that’s something that only you can decide. It’s worth reflecting on the question before making a decision.
For me, it’s because I want to be aware of currents outside my own special interests (which can be served by blogs, or forums like these). While much of social media is irrelevant or offensive to me, I’m much more alert to the dangers of living in an echo chamber.
I think for me, that Social Media is a chance to see something you wouldn’t see elsewhere And to engage with people. So many websites and blog have turned off commenting (understandably) that it’s hard to get involved.
I still use RSS feeds, I have for 15 years (if not longer) but there’s less serendipity in RSS or visiting other sites on a regular basis than there is in social media.
If Twitter goes, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I don’t see anything with the breadth that Twitter provides, especially at a time when I’ve reduced my use of facebook a lot. I have increased my linkedin use over the last 3 years though.
Facebook is my primary social media platform. I don’t like Facebook, but 97% of my friends and family who are on social media or on Facebook. So that’s where I’m kind of stuck.
Indeed, Facebook is the primary social media platform for the entire world. Don’t let tech journalists tell you anything different.
I like the opportunity to connect with other people online. Previously, I did it professionally, now I just do it for fun.
I’m going to think long and hard about investing any more time in a new walled garden. I recently reactivated my micro.blog account, and I like the opportunity to post there and have it automatically go to Mastodon and Tumblr. Tumblr itself looks like it is opening up. That’s enough for me for now.
The Brent Simmons quote you put in points exactly to what many like about Mastodon – it is, in fact, “the web itself” as it is part of the Fediverse. I think Mastodon gets after his concerns about one organization controlling the town square.
The problem with blogs/RSS is that it just doesn’t have the sticking power for the masses. Most non-tech folks are unlikely to search and follow a bunch of blogs via RSS, then find an RSS reader they like, then figure out how to share those with their friends/family/coworkers/etc. Similarly, it’s basically a non-starter to tell everyone to get their own domain and own their own words. It’s just not feasible for everyone, and then you’d have the difficulty of discovery.
Twitter brought loose social networks together. It didn’t require “friending” first like Facebook, and you can choose to only follow who you want (although there are good arguments the algorithm makes that more difficult).
I can understand people not wanting to be on social media, especially for their mental health – and I don’t begrudge anyone for stepping away. But to hope for some ideal type of the web is probably not going to be the fix many hope it would be.
I really dislike this approach, especially for any public organisations, but really for anyone existing only for their users/customers. I know A LOT of people who won’t touch FB with a barge pole, so they’re doing themselves a disservice in the same way as not providing accessibility. A web site is so easy and cheap to do these days, there’s really no reasonable excuse. Just “we don’t want to.”
That’s a double-edged sword. All the “xyz is a dumpster fire” comments aimed at Twitter/FB/whatever are because you meet people you otherwise would not and, even if you don’t engage, they might…
I rest my case.
Being of an age where life without the internet is a known quantity, I have trouble understanding the whole “I have to” argument. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I just don’t feel the need to engage with friends and family in such public places. I have email, phone/text, and… in person face time. I used to manage with only phone calls and face to face.
From the Mastodon web page: “We can’t control the servers, but we can control what we promote on this page. Our organization will only point you to servers that are consistently committed to moderation against racism, sexism, and transphobia.”
In other words, it is not open and free. One organization is controlling what is allowed to be seen or not seen. It is still an organization controlling the town square. And, as the Mastodon homepage says, the individual servers also “moderate,” which means they too control the town square.
Several people have responded regarding using social networks that friends and family are on, or checking specific sites that unfortunately only have their voice on FaceBook. I get that. Our blog posts, and the discussion in the MPU forums, and many tech writers and podcasters, have nothing to do with that. They are all talking about tech people who invested themselves in Twitter and are now considering jumping to yet another platform, just wired together differently. We’re not talking about Mom seeing pictures of her grandchildren.
There are plenty of options for creators to have a presence on the web without moving from one controlled town square to another. Want a place for people to connect? How about forums like those on MPU, Discord, and Circle?
From someone who has moved all over my country (I think I’m up to 8 or 9 moves), I have friends and family scattered all over the world. Most don’t want to communicate in email. I text/call my closest friends, but FB lets me stay engaged in their lives. There’s no way I could keep up with them all using old school means.
Mastodon doesn’t control them but you can set up your little Mastodon instance and have that pretty open. You are right that other servers can block you, but my guess is if one isn’t spewing hate speech, that’s unlikely.
I also think forums are not going to be the solution. People aren’t going to want to join 10 forums (fora?) just to keep up with all their friends.
It’s just easier for non technical people to do it on Facebook both for setup or admin. That doesn’t mean it’s better (it’s not) or that it should be the go to place (it shouldn’t.) But I’m amazed more people don’t want control of their own space on the web where someone else can’t close down their page or limit it’s reach.
I think it totally depends on your use case for social media. I was thinking about this as I listened to the Accidental Tech podcast this week. The guys were saying how valuable Twitter is to them and how that’s how they keep in touch with their community. It seems to me while they’re talking, the thought of Twitter going away makes them uneasy because that’s a big lifeline for them, their personalities, and their product.
When Marco says it’s helpful for him because he can post a bug or an issue and get a response quickly, it’s invaluable. For guys in that position, I don’t disagree.
But the majority of people on Twitter don’t have much of a following to speak of. I have about 390 followers but if I were to tweet a question, I’d be lucky if anyone answered. This absolutely has to do with how people build their communities and their following I admit, but I think it has different importance for different people. For every Marco who says they get invaluable feedback from the community, there’s 2 million accounts with 4 followers and 95% of their Tweets go into the ether.
For some people it may be useful, but I think for a lot of people, it’s a time sink. Not excluding myself from the time-sink side of that equation.
And I watch those questions from afar and the responses they get. So Twitter also is valuable to someone like me who only lurks on the service (ahem … I mean follows a carefully curated list of experts and thought leaders).
I agree from a Micro celebrity or larger perspective, but I get a lot of joy out of Twitter with running friends, previous colleagues, people I’ve met through twitter. I keep my circle pretty close. I follow 156 people/entities and am followed by 308.
I use Tweetbot. Without that, the feed would be too much. “Joe Smith liked” and the entire feed being out of chronological order, ads. The regular client is insufferable
I try to stay in my lane and it’s useful at times, but there’s also a lot of virtue signalling and people just constantly arguing and being outraged. Even though the people I follow steer mostly clear of that, it still drips in somehow.
-1 for the the regular Twitter client! I use Twitterrific on my iPhone and only read people I have put on a list, try to stay away from replies of folks unknown to me, and turn off someone’s retweets if too much non-topical info is brought in. Keeps the Twitter stream pretty clean for me. Keeps it from being the oft-complained cesspool.
Yeah, that was my experience. I was a light to moderate user of Twitter but had very little return engagement. I’ve been on Mastodon off and on for a couple years, a lot more the past 12 months and I’ve found the difference startling. Friendlier, more participatory, and that was with the smaller pre-Twitter migration. Time will tell how things go after so many more move in. But thus far it’s only been better. I think a key element is the process and level of moderation. I’m an a smaller instance of 700 active users and it’s been great. I’m also a micro.blog subscriber which provides another ActivityPub connection and another community of folks. Between the two it’s been a remarkable experience.