Following the 2016 US election I made a decision that I think not a lot of aspiring writers would make. I deleted my Twitter.
Now, in writing this, I know what I have done was probably naive. It was probably ill advised and, ultimately, was probably a step back from where I want to be as far as outreach and views and publicity. However, I felt that I had no choice after seeing what Twitter has become. Maybe Twitter had always operated this way (I don’t think so, signed up in 2012) but the selective application of their Terms and Conditions to essentially silence dissent and their manipulation of whatever algorithm they use to either promote or hide trending topics effectively controlling what gets ‘airtime’ and what doesn’t made me realize I detest their business practices. I felt that they were hypocritical, biased, and intentionally attempting to limit, control, and police content that they did nothing to produce or create other than creating the platform through which these ideas were communicated.
Then I realized, why am I using it then? Why am I helping them get bought? Why am I engaging, entertaining, and conversing with people through a platform I dislike? My livelihood isn’t tied to Twitter or the internet. I don’t rely only public opinion or clicks for my paycheck so why subject myself to the thought police and the moral finger waggers? Why operate in a social space that seeks to silence dissent and promotes echo chambers? To watch people fight and yell over the internet at each other using 140 words at a time that they would never use in real life? I couldn’t come up with a good answer for myself.
My Twitter was not prolific and, as I mentioned above, wasn’t a breadwinner for me. I know that is not the case for some users on Twitter (probably, I dunno, 1%. That has a nice ring to it for some reason….) but it was an active account. I had over 1,000 followers and had used my online presence to make it on to some podcasts and to help promote my writing/this blog but modestly. So, while my inherent ego and narcissism took a hit at losing that soapbox and attention, it was a painless parting.
Now of course I made friends on Twitter and, if you happen to be one of those people who is reading this, I’m sorry I left abruptly and without warning but, to be frank, I just didn’t think any of my followers would really care. I mean, yeah they would on a superficial level but that is all Twitter is really good for and that’s ok. I didn’t tweet a bunch of dramatic posts declaring my departure. I left because I disagree with Twitter and actions are always more important than words, even if it is just an individual taking action.
I realize that not everyone can or has the desire to leave Twitter. I can’t imagine how many people are on there grinding it out for views for their blog, or trying to launch their Youtube page, or promoting their music and have struggled to gain whatever following they have. This is their path to their dream of doing what they love and getting paid for it. The problem, and what bums me out about Twitter, is that you have to conform now. You have to say xyz and not say abc. Or, more accurately, you can say xyz if you are an abc which is even more ridiculous. You can’t launch a new brand or even, truly, express yourself because, God forbid, you say something that triggers someone with enough pull to assemble an internet mob and get you suspended or banned. That’s just not a service or a conformity I was willing to follow and, I think, the more Twitter polices the thoughts and expressions of its users the less and less popular it will become.
Even now Twitter has begun purging users just on the basis of the view they’ve expressed. Not users who harassed or antagonized, not users who were posting graphic or explicit clips or content, just users who held opinions or stances that don’t jive with whatever it is Twitter agrees with. You read that right. Twitter, who has no content warning or age restrictions and allows pornographic GIFs, accounts, and posts to flow unencumbered is starting to ban users who supported Trump and clashed with liberal mainstream media on no other basis than them expressing themselves. I’m sure this is being met with thunderous applause from sour and salty Clinton supporters but they are acting short-sighted to satiate their newfound digital blood lust at losing an election. Now just imagine if a platform was banning people for having an I’m With Her slogan in their bio or a rainbow flag in their avi or for yelling at Trump every time he tweets. Would you continue using that platform?
That is the problem with Twitter. Its gotten so popular and has become such an integral tool in so many people’s lives that they simply can’t afford to lose their access to the platform and that is scary. It means that even if users see bans happening for almost no legitimate reason (other than Twitter’s newly revised user policy that has expanded the umbrella) most won’t even speak up or out because they can’t lose the platform they have worked so hard to create. That means Twitter gets to dictate what you can say, what can be said, what can be read, and what can be seen. That’s why I left. Because, as always, the ultimate weakness in every social media platform is that it is dependent upon usage. If users leave, the platform dies.
I may only be one user but there is always a drop before a flood.