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Jackson Bates

The Twitter Exit Strategy

Leaving Twitter has been something I've thought about a number of times.

I love Twitter.

For all it's flaws, it has reigned more or less unchallenged by any other social network or web platform since I joined it back in 2009.

It was the first place I developed a networked group of like-minded folk that I hadn't met in person that felt like a real community.

I'd been a part of various forums, and on the fringes of some burgeoning YouTube scenes, but was a little late to the party for 'real' blogging and unaware of some of the other hip corners of the internet prior to that.

Twitter was the first time I'd stumbled into a group and stayed for the long haul.

Initially, I was connecting with other high-school teachers. We called it our PLN, a professional learning network, and we engaged in hashtag centered chats, discussed shared educational philosophies and pedagogies.

Later, I moved away from that and migrated more towards dev Twitter. It's been a continual source of growth, opportunity, and friendship.

It's had it's downsides, too, though.

In its favour, you can curate your timeline reasonably well and keep it fairly tidy with judicious blocking and muting. You can discover new and interesting folk reasonably easily. It's never dull - often to a fault.

But with an increasing sense of inevitability, I find myself thinking about what it means to leave Twitter and almost certainly not come back.

I've had a few stints away.

A heavy-handed moderation action some years ago first drove me to Mastodon, and to explore other corners of the Fediverse. I stuck around for a while there and got the hang of it. The vibe was a little different, but the general ethos was mostly better - if a little more tending towards the extreme ends of both wholesomeness and horniness found on the Bird Site.

Another break was needed for mental health reasons, and this time Twitter was replaced mostly with very specific and encouraging Reddit communities.

I came back both times for access to the dev community and the friends I left behind.

When I leave Twitter, I will miss those connections that don't have back-ups elsewhere. Some do - either though other platforms or pre-exisiting relationships. But some will inevitably be lost.

I'm hoping eventually there will be enough of a mass exodus to some new platform, maybe Mastodon, maybe something that hasn't taken off yet, that will make the move easier on us all.

For now, my life-raft of sorts is on Mastodon.

The other thing I'll miss is the serendipitous discovery of good blog posts and newsletters. I'm trying to follow as many RSS feeds of value that I can, but once I cut the Twitter cord, finding new ones will become increasingly difficult unless they get decent representation elsewhere too.

Social media breaks my brain when I let it get too political - or rather let myself get drawn in too much in the political. There's a sense of hopelessness that comes from being exposed to a continual stream of brokenness that's beyond my sphere of influence. i.e. Shit that hurts but can't be fixed by me.

I've found it helps if I focus mostly on what I can change or influence locally, and as such, my sphere of connections has become more localised over time, and the issues I engage with are largely local, or at least considered within my local context and personal behaviours.

I'm hoping wherever we end up, will be healthier and driven by those connections, not sketchy algorithms.

Anyway, that's enough about that for now.