I left the bird site

The old Twitter Fail Whale, a whale being gently set into the water by birds.

I left Twitter.

To understand what that means to me is to understand that it’s not solely about Elon Musk (I’m sure he would like to think everyone who deactivated recently left just because of him, but that underscores the type of narcissist he is). Understanding what it means to me is to go back to March of 2008, when I opened my first Twitter account.

I wasn’t impressed with it, and I let it lay there for a year. I eventually came around to how it worked, and I was hooked. By 2009 or so, I was tweeting regularly. By 2010 or so, I was actually making friends there (some I consider good friends to this day).

The promise of Twitter to me was fulfilled in 2011-12 by the rise of a loose-knit community of readers and writers and the heavy use of the tool in the Arab Spring (which the amazing Zeynep Tufecki went into in her book, Twitter and Tear Gas). I thought Twitter was finally the tool that would bring us together.

However, unbeknownst to me, the same thing that made Twitter so powerful during the Arab Spring also made it ripe for weaponization, and Gamergate exploded in 2014. I am a gamer, but not a heavy one, so I was late learning about the whole thing. The harassment was a disgusting example of humanity and showed how the same tools utilized during the Arab Spring could be used to destroy.

Once the 2016 presidential election in the US and the Brexit referendum were in full swing, Twitter was nothing more than a morass. Sock puppets and trolls were running roughshod over the place.

Yet I hung on.

I even hung on through Trump’s presidency (not sure why I did that). I left Facebook in April of 2018 due to the issues surrounding Cambridge Analytica, and I figured I would leave Twitter that same year. 

But I didn’t. I kept hanging on. And once Trump was defeated, I thought there might be some return to the community feeling there. However, as we’ve seen with the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and 2020 election conspiratorialists. It’s not a town square; it’s competing soapboxes.

Once Musk made it clear he was trying to buy Twitter, I knew I needed to start looking at getting out. And, in the 10 days or so before the board agreed to sell, I had pulled my online presence together and determined I could leave Twitter with little hassle. Thus, as soon as the notice came out that the board had agreed, I was ready to leave.

Again, it’s not just Musk that has caused me to leave. He’s merely a symptom. I should have walked away as soon as Twitter was weaponized in Gamergate. Now that he’s interested in encouraging the harassment and bullying in the guise of “free speech,” I’m finally willing to admit that I’m done (and have been for over six years, I just wouldn’t let go of the sunken cost feeling).

Five days after the purchase was announced, I had hung out my banner on Mastodon (again—I set up an account there in April 2018 when I left Facebook), read actual in-depth news articles (as opposed to skimming tweets), and set up a new blog (that’s this!).

I logged in today (April 30, 2022) to see if I had any notifications (no), but I see Satan and Chemtrails and Kid Rock vs Bruce Springsteen and C*tturd (an unpleasant little troll who gets all the other unpleasant trolls and sock puppets following them) for Twitter CEO all trending… and I know what I need to do.

As of today, my tweets and likes are deleted and the account is deactivated.

Leaving Twitter was a difficult pill to swallow. I will lose track of various friends. I will not be on the bleeding edge of current events. But that means not getting caught in the stupid holes Twitter allows to be dug there. That means not dealing with the trolls and the sock puppets when all I want is to talk with others about things. That means not becoming a troll myself.

I’m okay with that.