I pulled the plug. Deactivated. Gone (in 30 days, presumably).
I’d been hanging onto hope that I could use Twitter for my own purposes but remain totally disconnected from the mob mentality, polarization, and hostility. But now I understand these are the core of what Twitter is. Hypocritical, selective “fact-checking.” Policies that apply to only some users but not the most ideologically radical. Tweets that call for violence but are conveniently overlooked. Hatred is embedded in the source code of Twitter.
After recent events, it became clear that Twitter CEO and Co-Founder Jack Dorsey will not make a substantive effort to curb the corruption on his platform. Twitter has made itself clear; they do not stand for the free exchange of ideas. Only one set of ideas is tolerated.
So I did myself a favor and broke up with Twitter.
How it started, and why I left
I originally started my Twitter account during an independent study on freelancing in college (I got to develop the “curriculum” and syllabus myself—how awesome is that?). I actually started this WordPress site at the same time, though it had a different name then. I’d been considering—and still am considering—becoming a freelance writer. And what freelance writer doesn’t have a Twitter profile?
After the independent study and college, during my first year of full-time employment as a Content Writer, I used Twitter for professional development purposes. I don’t regret the connections I made, the great content I consumed, or the things I learned (I do, however, kinda regret the time wasted).
Sure I could continue to overlook the evil at the root of this platform and blithely use it to my own ends (don’t get me wrong—many, many people use it for wonderful purposes). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it’s that the polarization of ideas and people starts online—particularly on social media, and even more particularly on Twitter. I don’t want to get sucked any further into the vitriolic hatred on this platform.
There are other, more wholesome avenues to share ideas and engage with people. Twitter, though a major player online, doesn’t have the monopoly (don’t get me started on Facebook!).
So, where do we go from here?
If the social media purge that’s going on right now is any indication, we can’t rely on the tech giants to play by their own rules or treat users fairly; they certainly won’t respect your right to free speech. Now seems like a great time to cut ties and consider alternatives.
Start your own website
I believe a great way to hedge yourself against the de-platforming, hyper-censorship storm is to have your own blog or website. For the most part, you own your site and can share whatever you want. It’s not quite as social as a dedicated social media platform, but it’s yours—you set the rules and no one can kick you out.
I’m grateful that my introduction to “social media” was on WordPress back in 2013. I started a creative writing blog and enjoyed the freedom of writing whatever I wanted and engaging with fellow bloggers. A year later, I started a Facebook account and was gradually introduced to the ugly side of social media.
Since I began this website during college, I haven’t used it much. But now I hope to fire up my creative side again and share what’s on my heart and mind (and hopefully make some great connections with readers and other bloggers!).
We all crave community, real community. You have the power to create community on your own terms, and so do I. I suggest we all begin to use it.
Use an alternative social media platform
On the other hand, you could simply switch to a different social media site, one that is more transparent and consistent with their policies and that values user privacy and free speech. Right now’s the perfect time to make an exodus from the social media giants and help grow a new community on a less monopolized platform.
I’ve seen friends and acquaintances flocking to MeWe, Parler (before they were shut down by Apple, Google, and Amazon), and Gab.com. I haven’t really explored alternatives myself; for now, I’m content to simplify my digital presence.
You don’t have to play by unfair rules. You don’t have to settle for Twitter or any other social media site that doesn’t respect people or tolerate the free exchange of ideas. There are alternatives, whether you create your own site or use a lesser-known one.
I’m still on Facebook and Instagram for now. We’ll see if that ever changes. I disagree with a lot of the policies and decisions at Facebook, but I also value the connections to friends and family that I’ve built there over years. Ultimately, we each need to do what’s right for our own wellbeing.
I’d like to know your thoughts. How do you strike a balance in your online/social media presence? Do you use social media alternatives or have your own blog/website? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!