After the general election I expect my Twitter use will change. Instead of using the platform for editorializing, I expect to revert to news gathering as its primary function. That’s to be expected after a long campaign season.
It is also a reaction to Elon Musk’s potential acquisition of the social media platform. We don’t need oligarchs structuring our social media any more than they already are.
There is also this from the Washington Post:
Twitter’s workforce is likely to be hit with massive cuts in the coming months, no matter who owns the company, interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post show, a change likely to have major impact on its ability to control harmful content and prevent data security crises.Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2022.
Whether or not this is accurate, I don’t know. Musk told the newspaper he would seek new ways of extracting revenue from the platform once the acquisition is consummated. It would be another blow to the foundational attractions of social media.
More than anything, composing a tweet helps me think things through and put ideas into words. Sometimes the process is successful, sometimes not so much. It seems essential to a writer to have some method of taking abstract, random contemporary experience and render it into something meaningful. Twitter accomplishes that, even if it is not the only methodology I use.
While working on my autobiography last winter, the writing process served as Twitter does, arguably to more useful purpose. I would locate some artifact or piece of writing, then think through what it meant in context of my narrative. I would either incorporate or discard it. I’ll need Twitter less for this type of function as I return to autobiography.
When I referred to Twitter use as having a news gathering function, I mean a person can follow specific people writing about current affairs without the structure of a news organization. I read seven newspapers yet it also matters what Jane Mayer, Naomi Oreskes, Elizabeth Kolbert and others have to say. If they have written something new, they are likely to post it on Twitter soon after publication. The same is true of a number of journalists and commentators I follow. This puts me ahead of the news curve.
There is a human side of Twitter. I met many of the 180 people I follow in real life and have a relationship with them. I would miss updates from them. At the same time a lot of accounts I follow are utilitarian in nature. Someone is running for office, or is important for a project, and there is a timeline on their useful nature. There will be a purging after the election.
After the election, I expect to protect my tweets to minimize the tweet-crashing experience and focus on what I want to say and write there. Life seems too short for distractions.
I haven’t studied how much time I spend on Twitter yet by reducing its use, I should free valuable time for other projects. There is an addictive quality to the platform. While aging I need less addictions. In my post-pandemic retirement, I also yearn for connection with people. That feeling will grow as I age.
I joined Twitter in September 2008 after our child graduated college and left Iowa. I needed a way to stay in touch. Twitter was okay for that, even if I feel a bit like a lurker. Lurking is actually a good thing on social media platforms like Twitch. One hopes our real life relationship continues more than our social media one.
I’ll remain on Twitter for now and see how the Musk deal proceeds. One useful function is to refer people to this website to read my posts. That may be reason enough to stay.