It's been an interesting couple of days on the internet.
New management seems to be trying their hardest, most likely unintentionally, to kill Twitter. It's probably the social platform I've been most active on since I spectacularly detonated my Facebook page over a decade ago. Whether or not it survives, it's prompted some introspection about what my future on the internet looks like - and there are two almost entirely orthogonal courses of action that I keep coming back to.
I don't tweet a lot any more. Earlier this year I played with the idea of trying to consciously tweet more. I realised that most of the stuff that used to make it to Twitter was now hitting my group chats first. The thoughts that would have been unfolding - or most likely, being ignored - tentatively, publicly, observed and at risk, were now happening in spaces that were closed, targeted, safer - almost cozy. Occasionally, a particularly good one would make it out to the public timeline, and I definitely got some gentle ribbing about audience testing my tweets on my chats for that - but it does kind of seem a little absurd, when you step back from it. Why would I ever post something publicly and risk it going nowhere - or worse, everywhere - when I can send it straight to the people who will actually care about it?
The idea of having a profile, and expecting people to pay attention to you, your thoughts, your half-baked jokes, really seems like a holdover from an earlier version of the internet.
Why did we ever think any of this needed to be public at all?
When I blew up my Facebook account in 2009, I didn't actually sit down with the intention of blowing up my Facebook account. I sat down to have a rant and a snark at what annoyed me about the platform, and got to the end of the post and realised that I didn't have to do participate in it if I didn't want to.
I'm just realising that I've done the same thing, 13 years later. I didn't realise this was my "I quit Twitter" post when I started writing it, but having built up some steam, it is sort of the logical conclusion.
I have the stuff I care about backed up. Whether or not Twitter survives, I don't know that I'll be back. I don't know if I'm going as far as burning it to the ground, although I might if the mood strikes me, but I'm also giving myself permission to just - give up.
It's been fun, but I think we're done.
So now what?
truly never a better time to make yourself a horrible little website. get a domain and put some words on it. plaintext is IN
If group chats have eaten one half of social media's function, then maybe the other half is something Twitter ate a long time ago and which has perhaps only now able to claw its way, ragged, covered in drool but intact, out of the corpse. That's... here.
Man, I used to lavish so much love on this place. Did you know this whole site is coded by hand? There's a custom piece of software that generates all the pages, and it uses (I think) clever but (actually) horrific abuses of the programming language's built-in text formatting to do it, and all of the subroutines are named after the steps you'd take to make a cup of tea.
And over all that time, I've never broken a single link. You can still follow a bookmark from when this page was hosted on Blogspot and end up at the correct post, skimming across three hosting providers and two domain names. I was 13 when I started doing this. In a couple months, I'm turning 30. This place has been here for most of my life, which is a wild thing to say, and it's all still there, unedited, unbroken, out of some bizarre sense of loyalty. To keep the past around for the future to enjoy, even though it makes me less and less comfortable. Uncomfortable, in fact, to the point of putting disclaimers on content because it was written by a child who was almost but not quite me.
We touched on this above, but in what may or may not be the dying days of twitter, I mused about whether it was worth being public, about being available to all people, everywhere. I think we can apply the same logic to time. Is it worth being archived? Making your past available to your future? I used to think there was some perverse 'sticking with your guns' honour in standing by what you said in the past, in acknowledging that you said it, even if you no longer agree with it, but frankly, much like posting publicly, it's exhausting - and while it might be noble, there's certainly no benefit to it.
So anyway, in the spirit of giving myself permission to do things - I'm gonna break some shit around here. Because yeah, my cozy circles are a safe home for half-baked thoughts, for riffing on jokes, for sharing things I found. But there's still a bucket of things I do actually want to show the world, because they are cool - and finished, and polished, and things I can be proud of. That's not a static set, and it doesn't include everything I've ever done, and it needs some deliberate curating and gardening to make sure it stays as something that I'm happy to have people find, instead of something that makes me cringe a bit when it comes up.
I'm not labouring under the illusion that anyone other than me was fond of this place, but on the off chance that you were, take a good look around - because we're going to shake things up a bit.
See ya later, and welcome back. 😉