escaping twitter

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(or when u are forced to leave yr internet home because Nazis set it on fire)

in the 20 or so years I’ve resided on the internet, I’ve had many home bases online. More places than I can really recall, that I customized, curated, and contributed through. AIM. A band’s web forum. Livejournal. Xanga. Facebook. Twitter. For an introvert, sites that allowed personalization and interaction with others was a true gift allowing me to build meaningful friendships that I continue to treasure.

I’ve been on twitter since 2009, and increasingly it’s been the place I felt most comfortable, the space I used to share important thoughts. I get to follow friends and creatives I love and respect, participate in conversations with everyone in between, making jokes and feeling included. Twitter’s been formative in more than one personal relationship.

Internet home base has never stayed the same for more than a few years, but in the past, transitions from one home to another were gradual and generally painless. the flow of my interests, where other people I enjoyed were primarily interacting, would dictate what my browser’s home page would be. there was never a lot of consternation about leaving Livejournal, I stopped checking it because others stopped updating. The internet cycle of death and rebirth has always felt pretty natural.

now in 2018 I find myself in a position of knowing it’s time to leave a platform. my internet home should no longer be twitter. the abuse issues are notoriously terrible, it’s actively working against what users want, and the ceo is at best feeding trolls and at worst sympathizing with the alt right. this is a bad site, and we should stop using it.

despite the ability to report tweets and accounts, the ones who are most often reprimanded by twitter are people saying things like “punch TERFs and Nazis” (views I obviously support because fuck hate speech) people like alex jones get sent to time out for a week. using kindergarten methods on an account that has admittedly broken their rules multiple times doesn’t work.

twitter’s public face is consistently inconsistent about their values. the ceo, jack, has constantly cow-towed to the right-wing, and shows no signs of being a human being with a real conscience. I mean, private dinners with republicans like ted cruz and fox commentators? that is not a person who’s committed to safety for marginalized voices. jack made a point to go on sean hannity’s program to address the fallout from alex jones being banned everywhere but twitter. his deference to extreme conservatives is deeply frustrating, and his explanation of why Donald Trump’s account has never been suspended is laughable. according to twitter, the rules are different for newsworthy, unhinged men.

why can’t we escape twitter?

I’ve seen a lot of people on my timeline discussing their twitter departure lately. twitter is shutting down API access for most off-brand twitter apps (which, curiously, a lot of people were using because those apps were BETTER than twitter) and there’s talk of “promoting alternative viewpoints” in people’s timelines, yet another addition to the main feature of twitter that no one wants.

if twitter continues to head in this direction where it is micro-manipulating the algorithms, choosing tweets the users are getting to see, it is forcing itself into obsolescence. it’s time to find a replacement. but where?

the robust spheres twitter has cultivated include all the areas of interest a person could want. pop culture. education. fashion. photography. news. sports. politics. a particular netflix show. a convention happening in a small southwestern town. death of a pop star. we’re addicted because it’s so easy to fulfill our desires. whether its breaking news or the unique pleasure of Celebrities Being Friends Online, twitter scratches a number of our modern itches. we’re at a point in history where the isolation of to being away from twitter is more overwhelming than constantly checking it.

even when nothing is going on, the ability to throw a joke or a thought out into the twitter ether makes me feel connected. shutting that off (in a time where I’m not on facebook or instagram) feels like cutting myself off from a large slice of popular culture.

at a time when news is breaking every nanosecond and our entire world is just a horrible reality television show, the idea of being connected to others, with the ability to comment and share, feels extremely necessary to survive. how else are we to process all the shit that’s flung past us?

I don’t have a good answer to what comes next. this is the first time I’ve felt the urgent need to move to a new internet home, with the simultaneous tug to continue to status quo. I’ve had some experience on mastodon, which has robust art communities but maybe not the same breadth of news and pop culture discussion. pillowfort.io is currently crowdfunding and looks full of great features, but I haven’t tried it yet.

part of the trouble is waiting around for others to take the leap with me. Monya Toma/I’m on mastodon (my original instance got hacked which broke my heart for a while but I’m back on the most popular instance now) but so far the space feels echo-y. mastodon is also a few steps of technical difficulty away from twitter, so the learning curve may keep people away. I hope I get to try pillowfort soon. I want to move to my next internet home before this one has burnt down completely.