The latest ridiculous behaviour from Twitter seems to genuinely be sending the site into a death spiral, which saddens me in a lot of ways. I’ve been on there since the early days, and I’ve built a reasonably sized following on there as a result. I don’t really have anywhere else where I can easily put things that a sizable chunk of the people I’d like to see them would actually have a chance of doing so. But it’s more than that: Twitter was never just a channel, it was also a place I made actual friends, folk who I speak to regularly. Loose communities formed, dispersed, and reformed as and when they were needed. Looking back, those who were saying that Twitter wasn’t really a company, it was a bit of internet infrastructure, were probably right, but nobody listened.
So now there are hundreds of alternatives sprouting up, including the Instagram based Threads which is due to be released on Thursday. Bluesky seems popular, Mastodon is doing well within its slightly dorky niche. But what they all lack is the moment. It’s 2023, not 2007 when all this seemed so new and exciting; it’s not 2010 when the whole world seemed to wake up to what was possible on sites like Twitter. Without that excited, exploratory, experimental surge, I’m gloomy about the prospects of any of these places filling the gap that Twitter did, uniquely. Imperfectly, but uniquely.
If someone, somehow, managed to lift my whole Twitter network and shift it into a different thing, I would jump there like a shot. In the meantime, I think I will keep dabbling, but also spending time on more personal, and less ephemeral, spaces like this blog – and maybe make use of the newsletter more.