The Fail Whale Cascade

Thoughts on leaving Twitter.

I’ve seen a lot of posts about Twitter’s shakeup, and as a bandwagoneer that would have joined the Oregon Trail without a second thought, I’ve been thinking of joining the supposed exodus from the platform.

Twitter has been stagnant for a long time, and 2012-2013 was the peak for me. Tweet streaming had me tweeting 1,000 times a month, and Twitter was like a chatroom. Shortly afterward, they locked down the API for third-party clients. Then 2016 happened, which cemented my discontent with the service.

For the last 6 years, I used Twitter to keep up with web development and a few friends, but the value gradually became elusive. Going back to RSS feeds and topic authority sites for keeping up with development trends has been better than watching devrel people aggressively defend their VC-funded JavaScript monstrosity in 280 characters.

I’m on Mastodon, but I’m bored of what I call “the timeline era”. Scanning an unending stream of disconnected posts for topics of interest is no longer fun, I prefer deciding what to read based on titles, or topic-based discussion.

The latter is where I think things are returning. As much as I don’t like the walled nature of chatrooms, that’s where the people are. Teenagers starting their internet journey aren’t making Twitter accounts, they’re making Discord accounts. Popular new software projects have a Discord server, and sometimes it’s the only social presence they have. Forums and threads are coming back, with Discord and Element adding similar features.

With forums and chatrooms, I don’t feel the need to read everything, and the serendipitous conversation aspect is something the timeline era has lacked for a long time. I don’t have to maintain a “personal brand”, I can adopt different personas that fit the group, like in real life.

I’m not going to delete my Twitter account yet, Twitter’s focus on @handles makes handle takeovers and impersonation a problem. But I will be logged out by default, occasionally checking group DMs. Accounts that I want to keep up with are in my RSS reader.