On trying to leave social media behind. Yet again.

Header image: Modified illustration based on Midjourney

The other day, Matt Taibbi said:

Was social media always just groups of people calling each other Nazis, or was it enjoyable once?

Funnily enough, he said that on a social media site. Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about his sentiment quite a lot. I’ve been sticking with my commitment to, and defence of, social media for a long time, even after most of my friends on the web have given up on it. This is because of two reasons:

  • First and foremost, I’ve always enjoyed social media – even before this marketing term was invented in Silicon Valley. From the forums and IRC of the ’90s to Jaiku, identi.ca and Twitter, I have made many friends over the internet. And I have visited many of them all over the world. I have had overwhelmingly good experiences on social media until a few years ago when all the shadow banning, censorship and cancel culture stuff started happening in earnest.
  • Secondly, I am a journalist. And most news these days comes from Twitter. Even if most people, and even some journalists, don’t realise it, that’s were journalists around the world go to figure out what is going on 1. This is why it is impossible for me to leave Twitter behind, at least professionally. And since I have never been able to extract my professional life from my personal one, it’s been very hard for me to quite social media there, too. Even though I’ve been disillusioned with it for quite some time.

Like Taibbi, I am starting to feel strongly that all of this isn’t worth it any more, though. This has nothing to do with all the “hate” that is supposedly all over the net these days. I don’t think most of what people term as “hate” actually deserves that title. And I do feel that the tone on the net in general was a lot rougher in the ’90s. It’s just that many people these days weren’t using social websites back then or have simply forgotten this. Nor do I feel that Twitter is dying or any of these other Silicon Valley memes that are going around.

For me, social media stopped offering anything important to my life when it all turned to propaganda, PR and people preaching to the choir. The companies running the platforms started censoring people2, people started cancelling other people for saying things they don’t like and all thus pretty much everyone stopped saying what they really think or believe. They genuflect at the Altar of The Current Thing™ or simply pretend everything is amazing and try to never say anything that could even remotely get them into trouble. This is not how I want to live my life – neither online nor offline. I can’t make friends that way and I’m not interested into regurgitating small talk all day or simply being content at laughing about meaningless pleasantries or at the expense of the people who are sanctioned to be viciously attacked by the current powers that be. Social media has become one large playground of the Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy.

This is why I have decided to, once again, try with all my might to leave Twitter and the Fediverse and other sites and services like that behind. I will try and move my activity over to my own sites here at FAB INDUSTRIES, like the forum and this blog. Since I need social media for my job to some extend, I won’t be able to leave it behind completely. But I don’t want to contribute content to places that are largely populated by people that are meaningless to me and who are talking about things in a way that is irrelevant and not healthy, in my opinion.

My hope is that we can create a more earnest and tolerant discussion culture in the online places I have control over. And I do hope you know where to find my content, should you desire to consume it.

  1. On a side note, this also explains many of the lock step biases much of the press regularly falls prey to. ↩︎

  2. I guess it’s not called censorship any more, though. We call it content moderation now. ↩︎