State of Personal Social Media, February 2023
Posted on February 2, 2023 Posted by John Scalzi 25 Comments
Aside from being here, of course.
1. I’m still mostly on Twitter, because aside from the “fun” of watching it slowly break down, and Elon Musk and his crew fumbling about trying to understand this thing he now owns and must make debt service on, it’s still the place where I have the most followers and the most engagement. The exodus of 2022 seems to have stabilized (I’ve actually gained a couple hundred followers in January, after having lost several thousand from Oct – Dec ’22), and while I don’t expect that “stability” to last — Twitter just announced it’s fucking with its API services, almost certainly because it’s desperate for cash and Musk is under the delusion that access to API is going to be a profit center for him, rather than another reason for people and businesses to leave — it makes the point that Twitter’s collapse is looking more like a drawn-out deflation than a sudden crash.
I mentioned that I was planning to post less on Twitter in 2023 and actually I’ve managed that so far: In January I tweeted less than half of what I tweeted in December. It doesn’t seem to have done me any harm to tweet less, in terms of engagement with what I did tweet, so, yeah, I’ll try to keep at that.
2. Aside from Twitter the place I’m posting most is my personal Facebook account, which I keep private and “friend” only folks that I know in the real world. I tend to think of it as a “backstage” online area for me, since everywhere else (including here) is open to the world, so there is some iteration of public persona at play. The Facebook page has, well, less of that. I don’t let it all hang out there — there is no place online that is truly private, and I never say anything anywhere online without the expectation that it might show up in public, in bold print, with spotlights on it. But the dynamic is different and one I find increasingly enjoyable.
Which I admit is unexpected; honestly, if you’d told me a couple years ago that I would find Facebook the most enjoyable of my social media spaces, I would have looked at you like you just sprouted tentacles out of your face. But here we are. It helps that I don’t talk politics at all there; I do “kids, cats, careers” instead. I do enough politics everywhere else. It’s okay to have one place where I don’t.
3. And after those two… well, I post on Mastodon a few times a week, Instagram about once a week and on Post every couple of weeks. Spoutible, which is actually the closest thing to a Twitter clone, UI-wise, just came out. I signed up for it, but it’s so slammed with starting-up woes that I’m not expecting to get a real bead on its usability for weeks at least. I’m posting at the various places to keep a hand in and to keep options open, and I’m happy to do it and to see where these sites land, in terms of community and usability.
At the same time, it’s a little enervating to try to keep up with all of them, and there’s a real dissipation of conversation and community that comes from picking up online media stakes and heading somewhere else. I like the back-and-forth of things that I had at Twitter; that’s harder to come by in other places. Mastodon is closest in terms of it, because it’s been around longer and has a larger userbase (and I have the most followers there), but even there it’s a little off-kilter for me and I have to work at the conversational flow more. This is a “me” problem, not a Mastodon problem, to be clear; Mastodon is doing its own thing and has done so for years now. But it’s still a problem.
4. I think we’re in a real moment of change for social media, where some older brands are beginning to sunset and some newer ones are going to come up. But the feeling I get now is that this change is going to take longer than I (and I think others) initially expected, and that 2023 is going to end up being a transitional year with no sharp breaks between the now-old-line sites, and the new ones coming up. I’m half excited and half dreading this, because change has to be endured, whether one is looking forward to it or not.
Fortunately, as noted, I still have this place. It just keeps going. Hello! Glad you’re here.
Glad this place is still here, then!
I’ll see you here, and on Mastodon.
Twitter was also the place I spent the most time (still there for work) and I find it darkly hilarious that it has sent me back to Facebook. Only Musk could make Zuck palatable.
Hi! I’m glad you’re here, too.
I am happy that I followed your advice a couple of months ago and renovated my blog. Weekly, homemade, internet posts, these days!
For public social media, I’m now on Mastodon. For personal, I’m on FB and have been for years – it’s where I can keep up with friends from childhood, college, and all the rest of my life, most of whom live far away from here.
Hi! I’m glad you’re here, too.
I am happy that I followed your advice a couple of months ago and renovated my blog. Weekly, homemade, internet posts, these days! Some comments, but nothing like your followers’ responses, John.
Hello. Glad to be here.
I spend the most time on Instagram. Next on Facebook. I rarely go on Twitter unless I want to yell at corporations about something. As for all the other social media websites, I’m too lazy at this point. I hate tictok and snapchat. I don’t use apple so I don’t use FaceTime. I’m married so no tinder. I’m retired so my LinkedIn is for Book Reviews.
But being about to post my blog post on Twitter is simple. Open the app, Paste, tweet, close app.
I’m glad you’re here, too. I don’t do any social media at all, never have and never will, so I really appreciate the folks who still accommodate old dinosaurs like me that prefer long-form written communications. Thank you!
I’m still a bit crabby about Apartheid Princeling destroying a perfectly cromulent company that employed a bunch of my friends and neighbors. Dudebro will not make a dime from me, even indirectly by serving me ads he gave away.
Because I am a professional nerd, and not a public figure who has to care about things like followers, I stood up my own Mastodon instance to replace the fix I used to get from Space Karen’s House of Cat Turds. Most of the people I used to enjoy on over there have migrated over here, so I’m good. Or, well, goodish – now I have a virtual bucket of ferrets to figure out how to moderate when they get squirrelly.
I have never had an FB account, I’ve blocked their IP space from my internet since about 2006, when it became clear what it was.
I have Telegram installed on one device for following Ukraine’s progress towards high-speed separation of Vlad’s manly bits from the rest of Vlad, but otherwise, I’m pretty old-school – I’ve been on some listservs since last century, and otherwise just don’t care enough to look at the Tiktoks and whatnot.
I quit Twitter before the man child took over because I found that it provided more upset in my life than enjoyment. I find that I miss it very little – mostly when I have a couple of minutes to kill away from home which I used to fill with Twitter scrolling. I don’t regret the decision to leave at all. I do enjoy watching Elon do the equivalent of burning a truly gigantic pile of money in his backyard.
I’ve thought about Mastadon but a lot of what I didn’t like about Twitter was the doom scrolling aspect and I don’t see how that’s going to be different on a different platform.
I use Facebook to keep up with family and friends from college. Most of my own posts these days are daily Wordle posts which several of my old friends follow and comment on.
Throw that on the pile of reasons Elon Musk is nowhere close to the business genius he thinks he is. He’s mostly the benefit of luck, and is very definitely a product of apartheid South Africa. I find I enjoy Twitter most by not coming anywhere near it. It never made sense to me.
I think you’re probably right about the changing of the guard, but it is slow due to network effects and expect the old guard to increase the lock-in factor rather than go gently into that good night.
I would quit Facebook today because Zuckerberg is melon headed authoritarian dipshit, except for the fact that I would lose contact with a vast number of friends stretching back 30 years or more as well as the only real online presence for my border collie rescue.
Musk is also a melon headed authoritarian dipshit and racist and misogynist to boot, but I solved that problem by not getting mixed up in it in the first place
I mean, imagine that! Pissing away $40 billion on a vanity project without doing due diligence turns out to be a bad idea. Who knew? There is no business genius who could have foreseen that, right?
Happy you’re still with us and haven’t shuffled off this mortal coil quite yet. As long as you remain as productive and relevant as ever we’re glad to keep feeding you coins. :)
I’m glad I’m here also. Plus, I like the longer form that this forum provides. For myself I only do Facebook and I honestly don’t want a multitude of social media accounts to have to review every few days.
Thanks for your insight and comments on the various platforms.
The API thing is what’s going to kill Twitter for me. I can no longer use my client of choice – Tweetbot – and I just can’t get used to the official app. It kinda sucks.
Been on Facebook for 12 years. I have safeguards, because I didn’t want my account to be open to the public from the get-go. This meant I escaped some of the worst of it. Their algorithms actually crack me up. Although I am not African-American, I get ads for Black haircare all the time. Although I’m not Jewish, I get tons of Jewish-related ads. I find that all highly amusing more than anything else. Never did go on Twitter, because I decided enough was enough right when they were getting started. So I missed all that and don’t miss that I missed it. I read every Whatever column you write — very enjoyable.
Your comment about Facebook seemed pretty relevant to me. I have almost only people I know IRL or vetted friends of friends, and I post art and cats with an occasional (useless) petition. It’s so strange that I find Facebook comforting! Back in 2016-16 it was such a hellhole I almost dropped it. I did drop twitter when it got bought, but I only joined to see the Scamperbeasts anyway. I occasionally click through this site to see what’s trending, but I can’t stomach most of the tweets, and back away quickly.
Your comment about Facebook seemed pretty relevant to me. I have almost only people I know IRL or vetted friends of friends, and I post art and cats with an occasional (useless) petition. It’s so strange that I find Facebook comforting! Back in 2015-16 it was such a hellhole I almost dropped it. I did drop twitter when it got bought, but I only joined to see the Scamperbeasts anyway. I occasionally click through this site to see what’s trending, but I can’t stomach most of the tweets, and back away quickly.
I set up my Twitter accounts (one for me, one for my cats) just before a certain non-genius business man took over. I got them because there were writers and artists I wanted to follow and because I thought it would be fun to post stuff from my cats. (The Texas Thunderbeasts if you’re curious.) I don’t use them very often so if Twitter goes away it won’t really bother me. And I certainly have no intention of giving that twit any money.
And I am glad you are still here as well. I have very little interest in the majority of the social media you mention for any number of reasons, but the ceaseless white-brown noise in the background of most posts is a turnoff so I simply don’t. I enjoy IG to a fair degree and am on LI, but do very little posting- simply due to my work.
I do enjoy this site very much, and I think I will for quite some time to come. Thank you for it and the insights you share here.
There’s probably also a generational effect going on. Twitter said “Hello world” back in 2006, and sixteen years is a long time for a social media institution. Even the kids’ tikkitokkis have been around for four or six years (depending what you measure), and the initial burst of shiny is starting to wear off.
I was born about three-quarters of the way through the ’80s and pretty much grew up on the early WWW and the blogosphere. It could be partially illusory, but social media only ever felt like a fad to me. (Thanks to being a college kid at the right time, I was an early adopter of Facebook, but my sense was that it had jumped the shark by about 2008.) Glad for reliable long-running blogs. Social media has some massive inherent challenges that no one has solved yet, at least as far as I can tell.
P.S. Did you hear that you were in a ‘Jeopardy’ clue this week?
I’m another never-SM reader, so I very much enjoy this blog, John. It’s my first stop on the internet each morning.
And I was hoping someone else would post about your appearing in a “Jeopardy” clue this week. As soon as I saw the SciFi category, I wondered whether you might be referenced, but figured it was long shot. Could your connection to Wil Wheaton have helped? Congrats anyway!