I look neither back nor forward – no reflections or predictions here. Instead, all I ask is, if you’re bothered about online ethics, democracy or keeping sane, you make 2023 the year we finish off Twitter.
This is for: people who build, manage or edit websites, academics, leftists, democrats, anarchists, journalists. The sort of people who, unlike the majority of people who idly flick through their Twitter feed (or barely login at all), are using the service every day. These people are important to Twitter because they feed it content and attention, yet they probably hate what the ultimate beneficiaries of this work stand for.
So I doubt you really need to ask why? Before Musk, Twitter existed solely to enrich its shareholders and senior management. Now, it exists solely to enrich and serve the personal and political goals of its billionaire owner. Regardless of who owns the service, its structure – top down, proprietary, for-profit – means your every tweet, favourite, response and retweet only serves these purposes. That’s why Twitter isn’t really a public forum. The marketplace of ideas is simply a platform for every conspiracy theorist, neo-Nazi and rhinohorn salesman to generate attention, which in turn generates Twitter’s profits. This is not “discussion”; it’s a great flattening of reason. It’s noise.
Liking or quote tweeting Greta Thunberg’s response to an Andrew Tate tweet isn’t saving the environment. It’s confering equal status on a Celebrity Island contestant who is wanted for people trafficking. It’s making a soap opera, watching Big Brother. Andrew Tate doesn’t really have any opinions: he just wants your attention and some fool’s money.
Surprisingly, you don’t need to stop posting to Twitter to destroy it. Although that should be the aim.
Instead, post your thought somewhere else first then syndicate it to Twitter. Remember to include a link back to the original source. You can do this manually, or you can automate it. Ideally, you’ll have set up your own website, but you could look at using an alternative service. Mastodon is the obvious choice, but micro.blog is an excellent option, and makes it all very easy. There’s always WordPress. This may cost you a few quid a month. Use Movetodon to start following all those other journalists, designers, academics and leftists who have already made the move to Mastodon. Use Twitter less; just check-in and reply occasionally. Opt out of the attention economy.
If you have one, encourage your followers to visit your website and direct their responses there. Promote your RSS feed and/or email newsletter. Over time, you’ll hopefully find you’re not really missing anything of value on Twitter, and you can finally pull the plug.
After all, if you are a developer, editor, academic, leftist, democrat, anarchist, journalist or whatever, how can you justify supporting Elon Musk and every other amoral grifter? Twitter needs your content to survive; the more people who post elsewhere and eventually don’t post at all, the quicker it’ll fall. You have the motivation and the knowhow to not use Twitter. Ecrasez l‘infâme!