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Rapidly shifting digital winds

It all happened so fast. The implosion of Twitter is upon us, landing like something between the fall of the USSR and the crash and burn of New Coke.

Twitter’s been my dominant social media vehicle of choice for over a decade, which is crazy. In that time I’ve connected with a great network of creative folks, landed freelance writing gigs, forged relationships with artists and editors, sold stories, found friends, and more. Twitter was my default social media app. My morning paper, AOL chatroom, and professional Roladex all in one.

The thing is, it was probably never supposed to be all that. It certainly couldn’t have been originally designed to play such a strange role in global political discourse. It mutated. Pretty dramatically.

I joined Twitter in 2009, which honestly feels like a lifetime ago. It’s been a heck of a decade-plus, with the 21st century roaring into hyperdrive in the time since. 2009 might as well be 1999, or 1989. One foot was still in an old world of sanity, or at least a more familiar 20th century blend of insanity.

Twitter was fun. Until it wasn’t.

I digress. The future rushed onwards like the tide of a broken dam, and each wave if calamity and collapse added new force to its undertow. And there was Twitter, laying it all bare. The manhole cover pried open, exposing the full raw mental waste of the globe. Actually, that’s way cooler than what Twitter became. That damned algorithm squeezed a lot of the humanity that made early Twitter such a fun experience. And it began to change things. It began to change people. It changed what people wrote, how they wrote it, how they interacted and what they expressed. Snark up, heart down.

Let me just say this- I gave less than two shits about Elon Musk or his purchasing of Twitter. I didn’t pay attention to the previous owners. I almost always hated any major updates (the expansion beyond 140, replacing stars with hearts, QTing, algorithm suffocation, etc etc). Twitter, for me, was always about the people, never about the platform.

Anyways, the Musk thing happened and I saw a lot of consternation. It seemed silly to me. As I juggled kids, family, household, and other real world responsibilities, overwrought debates about checkmarks felt absurd.

But then something funny happened. I heard multiple friends talk about social media and its effects on their mental health. At the same time, I dug up credentials for an old Mastodon account I started in 2017.

Then I started to poke around in Mastodon. And I was really surprised by how refreshing it was. Right away, the absence of an algorithm could be felt. There’s just something about the natural flow of humans being human that can’t be replicated. Playing around on Mastodon took me back to the days of the web before the social media trifecta (FB, Insta, Twitter) locked us up in their walled gardens. Stepping away from that felt sobering. It’s like the lights came up in the club after 10 years of debauched raving and the scene was ugly.

We poured way more than we should have into Twitter. And within just a few days, those vulnerabilities and flaws become really clear.

The ground started shaking almost immediately. CEO and CFO unceremoniously fired. Then a huge unforced error on verification and blue checkmarks. Layoffs, resignations, and general chaos.

So now we’re on the edge of something that feels like a complete collapse. Every time I turn my attention to this draft, a new bubble of chaos reaches the surface. Who knows, maybe it all works out? Maybe Twitter 2.0 Hardcore Edition is brilliant. For me personally, it just feels unmistakably like an ending. The Twitter chapter closes. It will all make a great HBO miniseries, I’m sure.

Like with every collapse, there comes a kind of thrill of reinventing and making a new reality. In my case, it’s a lot like the old reality, before the apps took over. It’s a return to the more personal, less viral Web. I’m excited for this unexpected reboot.

Expect to see me blogging here more, and posting on Mastodon. Lot of exciting things ahead, with LadyDarke #1 landing in shops in February and kicking off a 5 issue arc, and hopefully more.

If we were connected on Twitter, please keep in touch. You all made me laugh, showed me cool art, entertained me with your bizarre hot takes, and inspired me. There’s no reason that should be exclusive to any one platform.

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