Confession: Sometimes, I Miss “Old Twitter”

Old Twitter wasn’t anything like Elon Musk’s awful “new Twitter”

I am a huge fan of Mastodon. I really enjoy the community I’ve found in the fediverse. I love what I’ve learned there about moss and mushrooms, El Greco and butterflies, this and that and pretty much everything in between. The big difference between the fediverse and a social media platform like, say, Twitter, is that algorithms drive the Twitter experience while, in the fediverse, there are no algorithms. Truly, it’s a very different social media experience. I love signing on to it every day. But… if I’m being honest? I miss Twitter. I don’t mean “X” or the thing it became before becoming “X”. I mean “Old Twitter”. Twitter before it ever met the South African Shithead.

Old Twitter

Old Twitter often was rough and tumble. People (myself included) said things that, perhaps, they should have thought better of. It was a place truly filled with “sound and fury”. Some of it signified nothing. But plenty of Twitter’s content demanded our attention. Twitter was where national and international news went to break.

There was a reason for that. Twitter was truly unique among social media platforms because of the way it electronically replicated a Public Square.

It really was like London’s Hyde Park Corner in that you could enter the public space, put down your soap box, step up onto it and attempt to be heard. Finding and building an audience was challenging but do-able.

One way was to look for well written comments I agreed with. I’d either retweet with my response to the tweet (I never, ever simply retweeted anything – I had to “add value” to it) or directly address the tweeter. Both often initiated not just a conversation but a whole relationship.

Obsessed With Tweeting

Often, I was obsessed with Twitter and tweeting.

Even when not on Twitter, I’d catch myself tweeting imaginary tweets. I’d tweet in my head as I drove – listening to news.

While I was happy when Twitter doubled the size of tweets from 140 to 280 characters, part of me lamented the move, too. A one hundred-forty character limit forced one to find one’s inner Hemingway. There wasn’t time for a wasted breath in a tweet back then.

Structurally, they were a lot like simple jokes. All you had space for was, more or less, a set up and a punch line. If you were economical, you could do set up plus a slightly more complicated punch line. But, that was it.

Before I started blogging here, I’d blog via tweet chains. Those could be incredibly time consuming to string together.

Beware The Algorithms!

Twitter posed another problem – a bigger one. One I didn’t even realize I had because the problem was so baked into the environment: Twitter’s algorithms.

Turned out my obsession with Twitter and tweeting was the product of skillful manipulation. My rage – like many of the bonds I felt toward Twitter – wasn’t as organic as I thought. Algorithms were driving everything.

All along, I’d been telling Twitter’s algorithms which of my buttons to push and damned if the algorithms didn’t push them and push them and push them.

So, yeah – even “Old Twitter” had me up to my neck in outrage. Rage tweeting often was cathartic fun. If you could alleviate some anger and make people laugh? It even felt righteous at times.

Hooray Mastodon!

Mastodon – because of its decentralized, everyone’s-their-own-algorithm nature – can’t duplicate the feeling (or potential to go viral). And ya know what? I’m grateful!

Mastodon isn’t free of haters and hate speech. But, it’s easier to avoid, easier to block, easier to isolate. Because I’m my own algorithm in the fediverse, I’m responsible for shaping my entire experience. It’s less “user-friendly” because it’s not trying to sell me anything or help anyone sell anything.

That’s not to say you can’t sell yourself and your work in the fediverse. You absolutely can. But, it is harder and won’t be as financially rewarding because its missing those damned algorithms.

Reasons To Hate Elon

I believe Elon bought Twitter specifically to destroy it. He has done zero to make it dynamic and everything to undermine the integrity of its users. I also believe Elon’s relationship with Vlad Putin makes Elon a traitor. I’d love for Elon to prove me wrong. I sincerely doubt that’s going to happen.

If I hadn’t been banned a couple of times – and if Elon hadn’t destroyed Twitter – I’d have had somewhere around 200,000 followers by now. That would have made it far easier to launch various business ventures I’ve launched otherwise. Part of that – me culpa. But, I blame Elon, too.

He took a good thing and deliberately destroyed it.

Even if someone could reproduce “Old Twitter” now, I don’t think I’d use it. I prefer the algorithm-free fediverse.

I guess I really don’t like feeling manipulated.

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