Watching Twitter burn

I’ve been a Twitter user for over ten years. I dread to think how much of my life has been spent scrolling through the timeline.

Over the years, Twitter has been fun and infuriating in equal measure. I’ve used it for personal expression, for business and to build a professional profile. But I basically stopped tweeting a while back, as the whole experience took on quite a negative tone.

We can all fall prey to seeing causation where there is only correlation. But I think it’s fair to say that giving a thin-skinned, neurotic billionaire the keys to an entire social network was never going to end well.

The recent and significant uptick in racism, homophobia, sexism and transphobia on Twitter has been upsetting to witness. And basically, I don’t want to be part of a network that leaves it unchallenged in attempts to promote ‘free speech’.

Add to this the shocking way that various members of the Twitter staff were treated when said billionaire took over. It was like an HR horror story of what not to do when you need to let people go.

I haven’t closed my accounts. I’m leaving them there, in the hope that at some point in the future, more stable people will take over and do something to improve the user experience for everyone. I’m not optimistic. But until then, like many others, I’ve set up shop over on Mastodon – and quickly noticed the very different tone and content.

It’s a bit like when you turn off a very noisy home appliance and revel in the peace and quiet.

I don’t want to replicate my Twitter experience over on Mastodon, so I’ve been a bit more careful about who I follow. Instead of the assorted ‘Twitter glitterati’, I’m following lots of scientists, artists and educators. The difference is palpable.

The whole experience has really brought home the clarity that social media can so easily be weaponised if you have enough money. Having left Facebook years and years ago, I’m now looking at Twitter in the same way. It’s a swamp. I don’t want to give it any more of my time and attention.

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