You have to quit Twitter.

If you’re staying on Twitter because you don’t want to let go of the positive role it once played in your online life, you’re only prolonging your own suffering.

Sometimes a thing can’t be fixed.

Well, I fell off my “post every Friday” routine pretty quickly, huh. Let me try to get back on it. This one’s pretty straightforward!

It should, in my opinion, have been clear to everyone weeks, if not months, ago, that there was no saving Twitter — at least, no avenue available to users, not once the sale closed and Elon Musk owned the company. Surely it is undeniable now, as features continue to break, and accounts of leftists and journalists are purged despite never having broken any Twitter rules except the arbitrary, hastily-drafted post-facto ones the undoubtedly beleaguered skeleton crew remaining at the company had to come up with to pretend there was some principle at play other than “Elon doesn’t like them”. (“Elon likes them” is also, of course, the only real reason so many prominent neonazis have had their long-suspended accounts restored, in some cases after nearly a decade.)

Musk is a shallow, incurious, thin-skinned — indeed, perhaps the most thin-skinned, if not in all recorded history then at least of our century — right-wing authoritarian who believes that his inherited wealth and the “success,” such as it is, of companies he bought his way into (not to mention the abject sycophancy which was, up until very recently, the press’s default attitude toward him) prove that he is a world-historical genius destined to save humanity through his benevolent (well, benevolent toward some, at least) dictatorship of Mars or whatever. This means the only Twitter users who have any hope of influencing him are the masses of 4chan-brain-poisoned neonazis and other edgelords who lavishly praise his every shitpost and bark at every dogwhistle (such as when he carefully crafted a fourteen-word sentence warning of “civilizational suicide”, or “casually” tossed the number 88 into a tweet). Journalists, moderates, leftists, and regular people in general have no currency or leverage here: none other than ceasing to use the service at all.

You have to quit Twitter.

It’s done now, it’s over. There is no reason to believe it can be restored. It sucks that this is the case, it’s awful. Twitter always had a lot of problems, but it was also a really important medium for political discussions, for marginalized groups organizing all over the world, for people to make their livelihoods, for people to talk with friends, reconnect with old friends, make new friends. It is very bad that one rich asshole can simply buy and destroy such an important service because he feels like it! Nonetheless, that is what has happened. There is nothing any Twitter user individually, or Twitter users as a group, can do about it now.

You have to quit Twitter.

DM with your friends to make sure you have their email addresses, Fediverse or Cohost handles, Discord server invites. Go back to blogging. Try out web forums, or IRC. It’s entirely reasonable to be sad, to mourn the loss of an important mode of social interaction, but you do have to quit.

If you’re staying on Twitter because you don’t want to let go of the positive role it once played in your online life, you’re only prolonging your own suffering. Close the tab. Take the app off your phone. Download your archive, use Semiphemeral or Twitter Archive Eraser to delete your old tweets, and when you feel you’re ready, deactivate your account. It’s time. Sometimes a thing can’t be fixed, and this is one of those things. I understand not wanting to lose the connections you’ve made, wanting to keep a foot in Twitter in case it gets better again, but in this case that just isn’t going to happen. It’s too late for that, and you won’t be able to start learning how to feel at home on other social media sites until you accept that there’s no saving Twitter, and that you have to quit.

You have to quit Twitter.

Happy New Year

Well, it’s 2021. 2020 was pretty bad! it’s gonna take a lot of work to make 2021 good, but maybe we’ll all manage it together.

One positive change I’m making is that I’ve quit Twitter. I don’t currently plan to delete my account — it’s useful to have posts here automatically linked over there, and there are a lot of people there I’d hate to lose touch with, so if the account stays accessible they can at least find out why I’m not tweeting anymore — but a couple of weeks ago Twitter notified me that it was my tenth anniversary on the site and asked if I wouldn’t like to make a commemorative tweet with a special “10” graphic they’d prepared, and I thought, well, ten years is definitely too long to be here.

I have more thoughts about the ways in which “social media” as it currently exists, and Twitter in particular (I quit Facebook about ten years ago, so I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of its current state), is bad for us as individual people and as a society, and why, and what might be better; and maybe at some point I’ll organize those into a post here. I want to work on, and write about, more software projects first, though, so look for more on that soon.

Anyway although time is largely fake, there’s something nice about choosing to mark the new year a few weeks after the solstice — it’s about when we start to actually notice that the days are getting longer. It’s been a few months of it getting darker and colder, and it will stay cold, and even get a little colder yet, for another couple, but we can see it’s starting to get a little lighter, and we know it’ll get warm again, we just have to get through the hard depths of winter.

A metaphor, if you like. Happy new year, wear a mask, don’t go to restaurants or weddings or bars or generally spend time indoors with or near people you don’t live with, get the COVID vaccine as soon as you can, don’t vote for Republicans, tip servers and delivery people extra, do what you can to help other people.