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Goodbye Social Media – On Musk, Twitter, & Mastodon

Goodbye Twitter - a SirTapTap expressing disgust at the Twitter logo

Yes, yes, funny lying meme rich person number #345 purchased a social media site. A common assumption is it’s going to go the way most Social Media acquisitions tend to go. This article isn’t so much about Twitter’s Impending Doom as it is about why Twitter and its kin probably shouldn’t have been part of your daily routine in years, acquisition or no. I am uninterested in whether Twitter gets worse because it’s already Really Damn Bad.

For a long time, I’ve been weaning myself off Twitter and I deleted my personal Facebook account years ago. I already use Limit and Blocksite to keep me off distracting or unhealthy websites. Yesterday I private’d my Twitter and I think I’ve given up on picking up Mastodon as well. Mastodon seems better, but I’m just so exhausted I think it’ll be better for me to just drop the whole thing. Why? Why why why indeed.

The Glorious Twitter Algorithm

One of the most visible gripes about social media in general is the holy Algorithm. Even YouTube which I still use is certainly not free of this blight. The Algorithm (praised be its name) is a magical box that takes my 5000 Facebook followers, showing my posts to about 40 of them. YouTube is not much better, with only 5.2% of my views last month coming from “Browse Features” including subscriptions, 5.8% coming from Suggested Videos, and most of the rest coming from search or off-site.

Twitter was a late adopter of the Algorithm, but its dreadful influence kept creeping in. There is now the “Home” algorithmic timeline and the “latest” timeline that shows in real chronological order. In a lovely “Screw You” to their behated users, Twitter actually automatically switches back to “Home” after a while, giving you only an illusion of choice.

And perhaps the absolute worst thing about The Algorithm—aside from it undervaluing my absolute BANGER videos on YouTube—is how it thrives on hatred.

Outrage Culture

It seems contradictory, but humans like to get mad. Anger is actually physically addicting as rage-seekers get hooked on the endorphin release, the triumphant highs, the rageful lows. Twitter’s structure somewhat uniquely reinforces this phenomenon thanks to “The Ratio”, an intrepid way of expressing distaste on a site with no downvote button for posts. Then there’s the beloved Quote Tweet which seems to almost exclusively be used to “dunk on” bad takes and the like.

But the problem is that all the harassment in the world doesn’t make these “bad takes” disappear. Quite the opposite, by sharing a bad tweet to shame it you’re actually signal-boosting it. Several pundits seem to have realized this and intentionally post “dunkable” tweets because people will share them. People more ideologically aligned with the original tweet see the dunk, think “but he’s RIGHT” and by trying to harass someone you’ve just made them more popular.

Rage Spreads Rage

It’s an insidious trap and honestly, both sides are pretty gross. Even if I agree with the dunk, I don’t want to see disinfo, lies, hatred, etc. on my timeline. The Dunkers often bother me more than the Dunkees in that way. Yes, @WhitePride1988 just said something awful about the age of consent, but YOU, @BernieCanStillwin95, just put it in my timeline where my poor eyes had to see it.

The phenomenon has made mute the retweets and sometimes even the regular tweets of friends. Outrage Culture makes me dislike people I completely agree with because they’re mad and Twitter’s setup encourages them to try and make me mad too. I want to be LESS mad. Be mad at the voting booth, PLEASE, but I’m just here looking for video game news and large anime breasts.

Another thing about rageposting is that simply, no amount of anger, no amount of Ratio, no amount of dunking will actually diffuse the misinformation users are often mad at. Because the system is almost designed to give the largest reach to the most outrageous, and thus often wrong, posts.

Never A Lie Too Blatant

Speaking of Algorithms and outrage, let’s talk about my least favorite twitter feature: trends.

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