Staying Or Going at Twitter: Ironically, a Twitter Thread

Written this morning and now posted here for archival purposes. I’ll likely have more to say on the topic soon, but at the moment I’m in transit and heading home.

Also note that if you’re reading this here, you probably don’t need the links to the site that I have provided.

1. As folks are asking, no, I’m not leaving Twitter at this time, for reasons I explained in April, when the current owner first started his quest to own the place (see the attached article). What I am doing, however, is re-evaluating how I use the site.

2. And not just how I use Twitter, mind you, although that is the current hot topic du jour. I’m thinking about social media generally, and the utility of “being the product” in exchange for ease of use and an audience. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t have advantages…

3. …for someone like me. I like having a largish audience and Twitter not requiring me to do much besides being quippish. But even before the new guy, the deal has been getting increasingly lopsided and requires more effort from me to use useful and usable.

4. It’s become less *fun,* honestly, and the steps that the new guy seems determined to take will make it more so, and more prone to trolling and impersonation and misinformation. The value proposition for me could go south fast.

5. If the value proposition goes south, then the question is how much of my time/effort I want to give the site. I don’t want to walk away from 200K followers, and I enjoy (most) of the interactions I have with people here. But I also have other places I can be…

6. … including my own site, where I don’t have to worry the owner is a bored, overly-rich shitlord trying to monetize every last possible thing because he overpaid dramatically for it. There are options, for me at least, because I stuck with my own online space all this time.

7. Now, I’m well aware that if I draw down on Twitter, not everyone here is going to follow me elsewhere, and, well. That’s life, and the decisions that will have to be made. I’ve gone through several Internet phases already. Nothing lasts, it’s always in flux.

8. Which means this “crisis” is also an opportunity. How *do* I want to be online in 2022 and beyond? I’m on Twitter because it’s easy, but what if I made an effort elsewhere? What would that look like and how would I do it? I’m thinking about these things now.

9. So, anyway. In the short-to-medium run, I’ll still be around here. But I am recalibrating what Twitter is worth to me, and making plans to do more things elsewhere, especially with my own site. Which I should have been doing already, honestly. I’m looking forward to it.

10. Also: Hey! Here is my personal site. Bookmark it in your browser, put it in your RSS feed, subscribe to in email, etc. I already update there daily and have for 24 years. Make it part of your everyday online experience if you like.

11. And now, as usual, here’s a cat to end the thread.

Sugar, rolling around on the driveway.

Originally tweeted by John Scalzi (@scalzi) on October 31, 2022.

— JS

30 Comments on “Staying Or Going at Twitter: Ironically, a Twitter Thread”

  1. I enjoy social media from a distance. Please continue to post all the latest Twitter drama here so I don’t need to actually… log into Twitter.


  2. And now I have the precognition that the very last post on Twitter will be a cat pic. This is now my cannon on how Twitter will end. In the far flung future, paleo forensic digital analytics scientists will recharge the last cloud server of Twitter and be presented with a lolcats and have to work out the whole social media sphere from that one image.

  3. I’ve never been on Twitter so won’t impact me. But I am here on your Whatever site and here is where I follow you. Okay, I also follow you sometimes in my car… but really don’t worry about that. ;-) (That last is of course a joke.) Really? Only me laughing…

  4. I was an early Twitter user. I used to run a collage bot before one of their many updates ratcheting access down broke my patience for fixing it. And I stopped posting myself during Tiny Hands’ reign of error, when random goofiness was replaced by shitbags yelling at me.

    Now I basically only follow links in to it. And I don’t really care what happens to it, I don’t think. Here’s why.

    There will always be a breaking-news-and-snark watercooler. Now that something has filled that niche, if DudeBro kills Twitter, something else will take over.
    If the Nazis take it over, they will kill it. This is the big thing people worry about, and I don’t dispute there’s risk of nasty, bad outcomes. But specific to Twitter, DudeBro needs to keep a very light hand on that slider, and he… doesn’t have a light hand. Especially when he’s stoned. See: Parler, Tiny Hands’ press release service, and that other one whose name I can’t remember.
    Over time DudeBro will get bored with torturing the remaining employees, probably have to scam the government out of more money at some point, and generally treat Twitter with the same interest he shows for his solar panel company. It’ll eventually settle in to a long-term role, whatever that is, and nobody will really care.

    I realize those whose careers involve talking to Members of the Public probably see things very differently. But that’s my general take.

  5. I’m trying out Tribel, and so far finding it to be quite a respectable alternative to Twitter.

    It does have a troll problem at the moment, but that’s not too surprising, and the site seems to have no problems with fairly conscientious moderation.

    It’s not an exact analog of Twitter, more like a mash-up of Twitter and Facebook – it allows longer-format messaging but the feeds are presented in a short format. It has several nice options for selecting more or less filtered feeds.

  6. Come to TikTok. It’s fun, the moderators make more pretense of caring about it being nice, the algorithm is wonderful, and nearly all my interactions have been pleasant. Even my arguments have been grammar related.

  7. I was never a social media user — I interact with people in person. While I could see a use for Twitter for disseminating information quickly to a group of people — my example was always breaking financial news to commodity traders/stock brokers where immediate information is essential — there are other multiple ways to set up feeds these days (my township has an emergency notification system where they’ll text me critical real-time information such as tornado warnings, evacuation notices if a trail carrying chemicals derails, and the like). The actual value of Twitter — aside from a desire to read the random brain droppings of others — has gone away.

  8. We’ll have to attend your sermons in person at your church, won’t we? That was your endgame all along.

  9. “And now I have the precognition that the very last post on Twitter will be a cat pic.”

    Of a cat’s asshole.

  10. Hi John, been following you on here from about the time Old Man’s War debuted in the UK. I’ve never used Twitter but glad there be platform somewhere to catch your worldview.

  11. I’ve only used Twitter because one of the e-commerce websites I frequent requires complaints to be addressed to them via Twitter messenger. Yes, it is weird! However, it seems to work ok, and I’ve always had my complaints resolved? Still odd, and I don’t know how the current owner will impact that. The only social media site I really enjoy is Pinterest, so I am very much outside the target market of Musk and co. Hopefully, those of you who use Twitter for legitimate business reasons won’t be left without a valid platform.

  12. I followed you on Twitter, where I just abandoned my account, and on Mastodon, where you’re not so active. Doesn’t really matter, since Whatever has a permanent place in my RSS reader. As usual, there you go making sense again.

  13. I totally forgot about your website. I’ll be reading your posts here from now on.

    If you are doing work on your website, I recommend moving your Subscribe widget to the top of the sidebar to make it easier for people to subscribe. :-D

  14. I don’t know how this will all pan out, but I’ve started bookmarking blogs/personal sites and signing up for listservs again. And…I like it.

  15. Yes! I have a Twitter feed (as @MikeMayakAuthor for the pen name—-social media; a necessary evil!) which I mainly use for promo and keeping in touch with a couple of friends who do not “Facebook,” and I’m on Twitter for the long haul. I’ll admit, partly to watch the trainwreck I think is coming. But I have already blocked a very hateful yutz!

  16. I wasn’t that into it, having only a couple of hundred followers (I can’t imagine why) and having quit Facebook years ago it was pretty easy to walk away from Twitter. As of yesterday I’m done, Let it be an asshole platform without me, Thanks.

  17. Never had a Twitter account or any social media account, but I bookmarked a few feeds including yours. Just lately I’ve dropped them from my routine. It’s undoubtedly going to be more erratic for a while.

    I’m more concerned about the science journalists I was following. It’s a good medium for them.

  18. Like some others here, I don’t use Twitter. (Or Facebook or TikTok, for that matter.) But I check the Whatever website every day, and as long as you post here, you’ll have my attention.

  19. Well, Mr Scalzi,

    Your Instagram works perfectly well for images of sunsets and cats and occasional Krissys, with commentary to give context when you’re in the mood for it.

    Frankly, I more often read you at Whatever than on Twitter, and most of the people I follow on Twitter have Instas, anyway so I see their stuff there first. Makes Twitter sort of redundant.

    Mostly, I just lack the time and inclination to be in both places every day, and my interactions on Insta are much more productive, so, there it is. Musk isn’t really even a consideration.

    And, Anthony Hopkins gets along on Insta very nicely. Just sayin’…

    So, I followed you on Instagram. See ya around the neighborhood.
    – Anya

    ps. Thanks for the Cat Pic

  20. Jason Pargin recently joined tiktok to promote his new book, and was gobsmacked how quickly his audience exploded in size, and how engaged they are. It does require he puts his face out there more than he would ever normally do, but it seems he finds it is really worth it. I’m not on the site, but it seems it is a really active place for writers and readers. And fortunately he shares a lot of his stuff to facebook so I can still see it.

  21. I’m another one of those who’s never been on Twitter and probably never will be. I read Whatever on the website every day.

    Thanks for your thoughts, John.

  22. What did The Shitbird do on his first day in charge? Reinstate Kanye (and you know Trump is next) and link to a disgusting and despicable phony article about Paul Pelosi.

    The site cannot die fast enough for me.

  23. Currently, I’m “permanently” suspended from Twitter for the third time. There are ways I can get a new profile, but this time I may just give it up.

    At its best, Twitter connects people in positive ways. The only sale I’ve made this year was to an anthology I wouldn’t have heard of if I hadn’t connected with the editor on Twitter.

    But I was also spending a couple hours a day just contradicting blatant lies spread by bigots and Fascists who seem to find Twitter a welcoming home.

    Now that it’s been taken over by a sociopathic oligarch, no telling what Twitter will become.

  24. Twitter is my rant at a company, catch up with my brother, quick shot, quick take site. It’s been too toxic for me. I survived being the #rehirejamesgunn twit every single day until he was rehired. I’m a free speech person. Whether I like it or not. If I don’t like it, I have the ability to ignore. I don’t have to debate everyone. Anyways, I don’t forsee you leaving Twitter. I think Elon will be good for it.

  25. It’s still astounding that anyone believes a famously thin-skinned troll who uses his money to silence others is a moral crusader for “free speech”, especially when out of the other side of his mouth, he’s reassuring advertisers to the contrary. It’s a definition of “free speech” that reminds me of that saying about method acting.

    @Steve Buchheit – hard to think of a more fitting coda for the 2020s. “This is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but with a cat pic.

  26. I joined Twitter originally for people like yourself and other writers,comics, that sort of thing.
    Elon will fuck this up basically because he got caught in a grandiose scheme that he couldn’t get out of.
    So far I’ve seen no evidence of his “free the banned accounts” rhetoric.
    My old account is still suspended–and they won’t tell me why. Just a “you know what you did” response which is why no one trusts their ‘moderation’.
    Which tells me that they don’t want to explain because they can’t support it.
    To me, Twitter is like my cell phone.
    GOt along just fine without it before, I can cope without it now.

  27. I don’t have a twitter account. I had one for a couple of months maybe 15 years ago or so when my nephew first got one. It didn’t last long and this latest change certainly doesn’t encourage me to try again. I used to be active on Facebook, but got off there a month ago. I don’t know if I will get back on or not. I really don’t see the point of it. I read the news through reliable news sources. They quote enough twits to cover what I am interested in.

  28. first, important business of my garage band’s next Top mega-album to be titled: “Sociopathic Twitter Overlord Bans Mention of Tiger Tail Ice Cream Whilst Reinstating IQ45”

    if you crunch the numbers there are noticeable anomalies in the flow of money… just where did the $44B come from? who has attached their strings to it? if it has $5B in revenues — not the same as earnings — why is the market cap so small? why are there so few accounts given two billion-plus phones? who really is using TW?

    it all seems a bit off…

  29. A definite “yay” for RSS.

    I’ve managed to replace almost all of the people I followed on Twitter with RSS feeds from their own websites.