Friday, September 22, 2023

What I'll Really Miss About Twitter

I have maintained, throughout the various stages of Musk's various spasms, that I would stick with Twitter till the last light is turned off, if for no other reason than I want to be able to see it happen and tell the story. It would not be the first social media I stuck with until it evaporated, and it probably won't be the last (oh, Cafe Utne, you were fun). 

But I doubt that I'll pay for the privilege, and as Musk hinted this week that Twitter would charge a small fee for use. Granted, what Musk says he's going to maybe might do has only a marginal connection to what will actually happen, but I'm forced to consider life without the Twitterverse.

I don't relish working through the alternatives battling for the chance to be the next Google Plus. I'm on Threads (because what better way to get over one toxic gazillionaire than by signing up for another toxic gazillionaire). I'd try Bluesky, but I've been waiting for a code since forever [Update: several helpful readers reached out, and I am now on Bluesky. Thanks! Also, I forgot Spoutible. I'm there, too.]. Contemplating signing up for Mastodon just gives me a headache. Sigh. I think I've still got ICQ software around here somewhere.

I am not a prodigious follower on Twitter; I can't imagine how people follow thousands of other people. But I still feel plugged in to a large community there. I've "met" a lot of interesting people and learned about a lot of stuff. I read an awful lot, and Twitter has been a good place to spot articles I might have missed otherwise. I've encountered an awful lot of great public education advocates, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to chat with them, or just peer over their shoulder and absorb what they have to say. 

But the thing that I expect will be irreplaceable is the chance to connect and converse and read the folks who are on various other sides of the education debates. 

I'm a huge believer in listening to and reading people with whom you disagree. Some people are serious, and some people aren't, but it is always a mistake to default to the idea that people who oppose you do so because they are either evil or stupid. Mostly they are operating from different premises, different values, or arriving at different conclusions. Understanding all of that is more useful than simply waving them all away as evil people. (Not that there aren't evil people, but I choose to live in a world in which people have to prove that they're evil).

I'm also a huge believer in primary sources. Much of our current world of political conflict runs on what a "news" source claims someone else said, which is not automatically wrong--unless someone is sculpting that characterization for a particular effect. Seeking to confirm what we already believe instead of trying to actually understand what the other person is saying is the great bane of useful communication. (Pro tip: a not serious person tell is an insistence on deliberately misunderstanding what you're saying so they can make their point).

I'm afraid that when Twitter finally collapses, folks will migrate to platforms with likeminded persons (or just no place at all) and the chance to converse and debate with persons of differing opinions will be lost, and that would be unfortunate. Writing blog posts and opinion pieces at each other is a lot like talking past each other. Not a big help. Twitter was a good place for dialog, sometimes, and I'm not sure what will replace it.

We'll see, I suppose. In the meantime, I'm @palan57 pretty much everywhere I go, and I'll be happy to see you there. 

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