Twitter is simple—it’s what Facebook used to want to be, back when users needed an .edu email address to join. It’s the space where people go, online, to just be with people. It’s the town square of the internet, where one can people-watch and then duck into a shop when they need to grab something. It’s happy hour with as little or as much booze as you’d prefer (though typically less… drunk-tweeting leads one to be a spectacle rather than participant).
I get most of my news from two sources: the Google Discover screen on my phone, and Twitter. The ability to see bite-size information and then seek more if I wish reminds me of traditional newsstands. The Discover screen on my phone is desperate to fit its algorithm to me so I have interacted with it less but Twitter has me figured out. When I need to make changes when the algorithm messes up, it’s easy for me to adjust.
For someone like me, with an executive-function disorder that throttles my ability to remain focused (or, throttles my inability to shift focus from something that interests me), Twitter is, at its core, the most accessible resource I have to remain connected with the world at large. I believe it is the last major social network that functions best when its wide open—the feed is for everyone, and users select what subsets they wish to seek, if any.
Special-interest or closed-discussion social media, like traditional forums (of which Reddit is also the last bastion) still have their place. Still, one has to pre-curate their homepage and choose to engage with or observe discussion and content. That is the model almost every other platform follows, in one way or another. Tumblr is closer to Twitter in that regard, but it is like Instagram that it’s rife with inconsistent content policy and riddled with ads for things that you just don’t want to see.
Of course, with Musk’s takeover and upturning of Twitter as a company, it’s likely that Twitter as I know it will change drastically. The algorithm that helps me consume information and engage with communities in a way that’s accessible for my disability is going to change. It’s something I am preparing for: ensuring the content curation settings I have in place are current and precise to either include or exclude results, choosing not to engage with content I don’t want to see regularly (and muting it if I do), and making sure I uphold my standards.
There’s a reason I have engaged less with other platforms, or use several alternative accounts on them to curate specific experiences. While I have alts on Twitter also, I use them far less, because I don’t feel the need to. Because it is simply “built” for someone like me—Twitter is, at its core, a dopamine jackpot—I don’t intend to leave, yet.
That might change and I’m hoping there’s someplace to land if I do. Back in April, I did set up a few alternatives and ensured I had backups available if needed. If any of those avenues are available to you and you decide to leave but would like to stay in touch, you can take a look here and connect with me that way. If I do end up leaving or reducing my activity on Twitter, I’ll take a look at new networks then.
Also: I simply relish the joy of antagonizing the world’s richest douchebag into getting every single penny’s worth of the largest financial mistake ever made.