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Why I Left Twitter

I joined Twitter back in November 2008.

After 14 years of calling it my favorite social network, I’ve decided to leave Twitter.

If you’re on Twitter, I’m not telling you to leave. I’m just telling you why I left.

“This isn’t an airport…

You Don’t Have To Announce Your Departure”

I’ve been in the world of social media, professionally, since 2008.

Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook all started becoming popular as I was finishing my MBA. Since those early days, there have been persistent but inconsistent flare ups featuring people loudly quitting a social network or, sometimes, feigning to quit a social network as a grand act of virtue signaling or attention seeking. Thus was born the meme…

While the vapid, attention-seeking culture of social media annoys me too, I’ve always felt that it is misguided to dismiss those who leave these networks as unworthy of our attention. Most of the people I have seen leave a social network have done so for reasons the social network in question would’ve been wise to listen to.

Many people sign off permanently because of…

  • harassment
  • doxxing
  • safety concerns
  • privacy violations
  • death threats
  • hate speech, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia

Generally speaking, people don’t just leave because they couldn’t get the blue checkmark.

So, if you’re willing to hear it, here is…

Why I’m leaving

I had been one of social media’s biggest advocates since 2008. I fervently believed in its power to change the world for the better. It is for this reason that I was also among social media’s harshest critics.

Social media really peaks between 2010-2012. Those were the (relative) good times.

  • It was easy to meet new people.
  • The tech was new and exciting.
  • Most marketers, salespeople, and politicians had not yet ruined everything.

Things started to change, and by the time Donald Trump was a popular fixture on Twitter, the toothpaste was out of the tube. And by that, I mean the racists and bigots are now comfortable enough to use their real names and have been joined and amplified by an army of bots polluting the trending topics with hate and misinformation. What started as a trickle was slowly “perfected” (read: memes), until there was no turning back.

I came to realize that I now feel there is more to hate about Twitter now than there is to love about it.

And then, Elon Musk

Under Elon’s watch, I don’t see this getting better, I see it getting worse.

His charade about free speech absolutism is so transparently bullshit that I don’t think even he believes it, because if he does, he clearly doesn’t see the irony in banning those who parody or impersonate him, or who are mean to him.

He’s also indicated that he will allow some of the worst offenders to return to Twitter or those with “minor & dubious reasons.” Frankly, with his judgment, I don’t want to be there when he decides who comes back.

It’s already obvious who is excited about his stance on “free speech” and it’s not those speaking truth to power. It’s not those who are deliberately marginalized and attacked sensing changes to Twitter that will make it safer for them. Nah, it’s the people who want Twitter to become more like Parler, Truth Social, and Gab.

No thanks, I’ll pass on that.

What’s Next?

I hesitate to know whether the decision to leave will be the best thing for my career since social media is such a useful distribution tool for content. Twitter was my largest network with over 18,500 followers. It’s impossible to ignore that removing this profile from my digital footprint will shift how people see me. While ~18k followers is nothing on a site where many people have hundreds of thousands and occasionally millions of followers, it has provided some benefits. It also still does impress some people which has its perks. I’m not claiming it actually means something, just that some people think it does, and that’s enough for it to matter.

Despite all of this, I feel that I cannot in good conscious stay any longer. I am on a mission to create a world that is kinder, safer, and more equitable, and I plan to do that by helping more people unleash their potential to become superhuman.

So, yesterday, I deleted 45,000 tweets and put up one final goodbye. I’m leaving my profile up in the hopes that I’m wrong and that one day, things will change.

In the meantime, I am hopeful that we’re entering a new era of connection. I plan to spend much more time focused on privately communicating with individuals and groups, and attempting to do it in places where I maintain more control over those connections, rather than losing them should I decide to leave.

Here’s where you’ll be able to find me…

  • I’m dedicated to this blog/podcast/email newsletter as a forum for sharing my work and my ideas. I’m hoping to increase my subscriber count and have more people to share my dream of a world with more superheroes.
  • Since much of my public social media usage has become a place to share what I’m working on professionally, Linkedin is a natural place to spend more of my time and energy. Catch me over there.
  • Some of my friends who were using Whatsapp have begun using Signal. I’ve been a fan of the company from the beginning given their emphasis on encryption and privacy. They just introduced a stories feature and I’m hopeful that they continue to add features and carve out a privacy-focused network for friends to connect. Those who have me in their address book can find me on Signal.
  • Finally, I’m really enjoying Discord. For those who use Slack, it’s really not that different, though for some reason, it feels different to me. You can find me over there to connect, as well (add friend: jgibbard#0260)

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