Hello, is anybody there?
The Implied Space of a changing Social Media Landscape
Well, it has been awhile. My blogging activity for the past few weeks has consisted of visiting other blogs, and liking various posts. An encounter with Covid, followed by a sinus infection (last dose of anti-biotic Saturday), left me with reduced resources.
Where I had energy, I puttered around with some more experimental poetry, and watched the chaotic deconstruction of Twitter. This monumental act of capitalistic hubris has played out as a tragedy in the tradition of Kafkaesque Absurdist Theatre.
The Bluebird of Unhappiness
The uncertainty of Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter, once he became legally bound to purchase it (unbelievable financial acumen) resulted in some advertisers suspending ads. The Canadian Government was advised to suspend advertisements & ad spending on Twitter.
The fear that Twitter would turn into a wild frontier of unchecked hate speech, malicious trolling, and disinformation, made many question whether this was the best place for marketing or social discourse. Many users started looking for alternative social media platforms, just in case things went terribly dark. One of the social media platforms that started gaining traction was Mastodon.
If that name sounds a bit familiar, it is because back in April, I joined the Mastodon.Art Instance (Server community). I did a series of posts on my Media Literacy blog about my experiences and observations concerning the social media platform.
As I anticipated, Musk’s next move was to try to generate revenue from Twitter. His goal, I believe, is to create a pay to use platform that will offer packages/levels of services, not unlike cable/satellite TV companies. His first step in this direction was his Blue Twitter Verification initiative (a Comedy of Errors Timeline).
The suggestion of a paywall & truncated services sent the next wave of anxiety amongst users (keep in mind this is taking place in a little over a week). The need/desire for a social media platform that came close to Twitter, and the insecurity over Twitter’s financial & infrastructure (more on that shortly) stability sent many to establish accounts elsewhere in a wait-and-see approach.
Meanwhile, there was much bemoaning over the loss of Twitter, its potential, and what it once was,…
For those whose knowledge of Twitter comes from news media reporting, the reputation for toxic behaviour & disinformation is not undeserved, especially in the last 6 years (you may recall the Trump era). In the past, Twitter has also been a great place for art, photography, community support, and positive social change. Those benefits appear to be quickly diminishing/vanishing.
I have maintained my Twitter account, while using Mastodon as well (what can I say, I’m retired with no life) – waiting for the inevitable. Very recently, a number of folks have noticed odd glitches, pauses, and an inability to view some Tweets. This brings us back to the Blue Canary in the Twitter mine – infrastructure. For some reason it has become unstable. Who knew that firing roughly 50% of your staff would be harmful to a complex global computer network with around 396.5 million users. (See the report from the MIT Technological Review – What a Twitter engineer says will Happen in The Coming Weeks)
I originally anticipated it would take Musk about 3 months to either change Twitter into what he envisioned, or make a shambles of the whole thing. As things moved along, I thought I would quite possibly leave Twitter around the end of November. I, like many others, now don’t know if Twitter will even be there the next time we try to log on.
If you have a Twitter account, and want to continue having another presence on the internet, I strongly suggest you establish one now. My preference is of course Mastodon. If you decide to go this route check out my Media Literacy posts that I linked above.
A few quick tips & observations:
1. If you can, sign up using a computer or laptop. Many new users said that using one of the apps proved challenging, though not insurmountable.
2. Mastodon is a Federated group of community servers(called Instances) that are connected by a protocol. You pick a Community server to join. They are organized by regions, languages, and topics. Many new ones have shown up just in the last week, while others have grown in membership size.
3. Better to choose a midsize server that has not been overwhelmed by the influx of Twitter escapees (Over 1 million people have joined Mastodon since October 27).
******** If you have any questions about Mastodon/joining Mastodon, I will answer them to the best of my ability. BTW: Unlike Twitter, and some other platforms, Mastodon users’ have public posts, as well as private. You don’t have to sign up to see what the content is like, and it is searchable.********** Some more soothing music to after such a long post.