Wither Twitter

Building 2

It’s been one year since I quit Twitter. Mostly.

After having been actively engaged on the platform since 2007, I discovered that I really don’t miss it as much as I thought I would.

Let’s face it, Twitter1 started to decline in value (socially and financially) several years before Rocket Boy started trashing the place. But I still had a community that I enjoyed interacting with and the app I used let me avoid the ads and most of the trolls. So, I continued.

By the start of 2023, most of the people I follow had stopped posting, or showed up very infrequently. And being forced to use the web site2 or mobile apps means every third or fourth entry was an ad or worthless “recommendations”. Plus the trolls had become unavoidable.

Since “leaving”3 the bird site I’ve been playing with some of the Twitter alternatives that have appeared. None of them are particularly satisfying, mostly because they and their users seem bent on recreating “classic” Twitter, which is a concept sorely in need of a complete reinvention.

From a strictly technological view, Mastodon, which I joined in 2018 when the troll occupation started moving beyond the nuisance stage, is the best of the bunch. Not surprising because of the open source roots and eight years of community development. It’s just hard for many non-techies to use, requiring a basic understanding of the concept of “distributed” networking.

Bluesky is a start-up that includes some early Twitter people in management, and which required an invitation to join until just recently. Last spring a group of educators I followed on Twitter tried to get an #EduSky movement started on the service, but it kind of fizzled out. Overall, the site doesn’t seem to be very busy, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Then there’s Threads, which was a hastily-assembled fork of the Instagram app from parent company Meta (which most people still call Facebook). Not surprisingly it has many of the same limitations and annoyances as Instagram, especially the flakey algorithm that drops strange and irrelevant “recommendations” into my feed.

Of course, the big question about whether any of these (or something else) will supplant Twitter involves sustainability. For a “free” product, that almost always means ads.

Let’s face it, at some point the owners of Bluesky and Threads will want to generate a profit. And at that point, users will be turned over to the marketing department instead of customer service.

However, the primary value of any social network is not derived from the technology or the owner’s business model. It is entirely about interacting within the communities that users build for themselves.

So far, I’m not finding enough of that community to warrant spending a lot of time in these new channels. Certainly not at the levels I spent in Twitter at its height. For now, I will keep playing with these new toys and watch where they go.

All the while plugging away at this antique social platform called “blogging” and listening in the direction of Twitter for the massive implosion that everyone seems to think is coming.

Ain’t the internet fun?

Twitter hasn’t decayed to the level of an abandoned steel mill but it’s headed in that direction.

1. It’s Twitter and I find it difficult to use the absurd new name. 

2. The Mac app is pretty much useless. It still shows the old bird icon and hasn’t been updated more than a year, which generally indicates program has been abandoned.

3. I still open Twitter every few weeks or so since the new owner seemed anxious to delete dormant accounts. Plus it’s interesting to check in on the dumpster fire from time to time.

2 Comments Wither Twitter

  1. Jim Randolph

    On instagram I sort by “following” which gets rid of the random recs. On Bluesky I have a tab called “OnlyPosts” which shows only the posts of those I’ve chose to follow. On Threads I also tap “following” and scroll until I’ve hit where I was last. It takes just a few minutes on each app to feel caught up and it keeps away most of the nonsense.

    1. tim

      Thanks for the suggestions, Jim. I’ve been able to shut off the recommendations on Instagram, but only for 30 days at a time. The settings don’t carry over to Threads and my settings don’t show anything called “following”. On Bluesky I don’t see a tab called Only Posts but do have a Following tab that seems to do the same thing. So much work trying to make all this stuff easy to use. :)


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