These last few days have been an unofficial “log off Twitter because it’s run by Nazis who jack it to Alex Jones” holiday. On one hand, cool, people are finally realizing that they don’t have to be tethered to a single website in order to promote themselves and their work. On the other hand, it now means Wil Wheaton is on Mastodon, a site I signed up for to get away from transphobic rape apologists like him, and to get away from the seemingly endless number of anti-trans blocklists that assholes like him have been spreading around all these years. But in any case, less people using “Social Media” is a good thing.
I see this argument repeated time after time, as a justification to continue using services like Twitter:
“I met my partner on this site!”
“I got a good career using this site!”
“I made some great friends on this site!”
And yeah, sure, these things are true, and good. But at what cost did we get these things? I met a lot of great people! People who I will hopefully be friends with for the rest of my life. People who I would fucking bleed for if it came down to it. And every goddamn day I hate, hate, hate, hate the circumstances in which we all met. Being doxxed by the same nazi forum, or smeared by the same video games clique, or being subjected to the same “call out posts,” or getting betrayed by Zoe Quinn are not, and should not be, the foundations for a good relationship. I shouldn’t have to say that I met my best friend over shared trauma. That is such bullshit. But that’s how social media works, unfortunately. And that’s why I want it to end.
I long for the days of everyone having a personal website, and posting on message boards. Was it perfect? Was it free of harassment and abuse? No! Of course not! But at the same time, it wasn’t like there were corporations actively trying to commodify that shit; you couldn’t make five figures a month chicken pecking “feminism is cancer” on your keyboard and posting it to Angelfire. Maybe some of this is nostalgia for a different time, but I think we can all agree that things would be better if we weren’t all held to the mercy of right-wing Silicon Valley. That your ability to have a voice is decided upon by a fucking Java programmer (or whatever Randi Harper does) and a D-list celebrity. The world would be a lot different, and dare I say, better, without Twitter. Without Facebook. Without all this other shit. Yeah, we have new friends in our life, but was it worth the trauma, the PTSD flashbacks, the harassment, the headaches, the complete and utter dissolution of American Democracy?
The internet can be, and at times is, an incredible tool for communication and bonding. And we need to find a way to make it better, because the people currently running the show will not.