Shout out to the three biggest twatwaffles in tech these days, as they have actually conspired to make my life better!
As someone who spent decades being “chronically online”, the last month or so has been really weird for me. And it’s all thanks to the brilliant (lol) decisions made by the heads of Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.
I should back up a bit.
My online experience started with AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. Everyone seemed to have it back in my junior high, and I remember racing home from school to hop online and chat with my friends that I’d spent all day being around. We all had the cryptic away messages, about info, and all that. I can’t remember most of my screennames over the years, but I do remember my last one: ihatelockers. (I got in a very minor scuffle the final week of 9th grade, and my punishment was that I had to come back for 4 hours the day summer started and help clean out lockers. The other guy showed up an hour late, and had to stay all day + come back the next day. Sucker.)
I lived through the LiveJournal, MySpace, Xanga, and Tumblr eras. I was a leader of the grassroots effort to keep Facebook from opening itself up to people without .edu email addresses back in 2006. I was on ESPN multiple times because I interacted with the various show hosts on Twitter (or because I stuck my face in front of a camera at my school’s token appearance).
I’ve made friends, gotten jobs, joined WoW guilds, first interacted with my now-wife, and more all because of social media. There are so many amazing experiences that I know people have had purely because of the networking abilities these various apps have provided to people.
But now? Now, the landscape has been fractured, and I’m Very Tired™. I can’t keep up with everything that’s going on nowadays. Everyone was on Twitter, and now it’s all split up, because Elon Musk is a giant manbaby. Mastodon has the tech conversation. Bluesky has the ultra-liberal gamers that are (apparently) trying to tell Dril how to post. Facebook has the family. And Twitter still has all the sports stuff (and, let’s face it, pretty much everyone else from Bluesky too, because we’re in that phase where nobody wants to pull the plug). Plus, there’s Discord, which is full of a handful of communities and friend groups that I interact with more than anything else. And finally, Reddit recently made changes to their API, effectively killing the best 3rd party apps, and resulting in a lot of subreddits I followed going dark indefinitely.
I had a folder on my iPhone home screen for ages that was full of all the various apps. I caught myself just flipping between 5 or 6 of them nearly non-stop a few weeks ago, and got really mad at myself. None of this was serving me. None of this was even fun anymore. It was a chore to try and interact with any of the people I wanted to interact with.
So, I went… what’s just under nuclear? Whatever that is, I did it. I still have all my accounts across the various services, but a lot of them (Ivory for Mastodon, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter) got deleted, and a few others (Instagram, Bluesky) got relegated to the App Library - accessible if I need them for something, but out of sight/mind the rest of the time.
I can’t believe that the thing that finally broke the social media chokehold on me was the various owners being complete garbage humans… and yet, here we are. I have no idea if any of these services will ever return to my life in the capacity they were before. I sure hope not. I do miss a lot of the people I would interact with, and I’m trying to be proactive about connecting with those that I really appreciated (if this is you, hello, come talk to me), but I’m doing best to not let the allure of what once was suck me back in to a space I know is not good for me.
Friendly reminder: if you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product.