A Social Media Sabbatical

At some point, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest start to become part of the problem, not part of the answer. In my case, I’ve used those two primary ones and a bunch of others since 2007 with varying degrees of success and failure.

Bennie not too worried about anything more than begging for scraps at the dinner table.

I am at the point where I need to step away from most of them. No, not to simply log out and force myself not to log back in to see what is going on (which hasn’t worked), but to actually delete most of my accounts.

Twitter

The first order of business has been deleting my Twitter account.

It is also the social media site that I have done the most with and will miss the most. I have met some wonderful people through Twitter, people I consider true friends, and I will miss communicating with them. However, Twitter with its focus now more on corporate needs versus individual conversations has been something I have been growing more and more tired of over the past few years. When you add in its new owner’s priorities, Twitter is becoming something that I don’t want to be a part of. 

I didn’t realize just how bad things were on Twitter because I had my timeline pretty well-locked down during the last year and wasn’t seeing most of the crap going on. At least, until I downloaded my tweet archive and started going back through them. While re-reading my archive, I noticed that starting around 2014, many of my and others’ tweets started to become so negative. They showed a side of me that was sarcastic, nasty, and vindictive. All the reasons that I had locked down my account.

After re-reading those tweets and with the direction Twitter seems to be going, I decided the other night to delete everything — my Twitter archive, my account and let go of that piece of my past. I got rid of everything from that account and let it go.

When I did, it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off me, so I know it was the correct decision.

If things change at some point, I might reconsider and create a new account on Twitter, but I have a feeling that Twitter will never be the same as it once was, and going back probably won’t happen.

Mastodon

With the dumpster fire going on at Twitter, Mastodon, or more accurately the Fediverse has become one of the new darlings of the social media arena. Yet, at the same time, as I quickly found out, it is no panacea for the multitude of Twitter ex-pats who are moving there. 

Mastodon had become sort of an online refuge for marginalized communities that needed a safer place on the web. The recent influx of over a million of us Twitter ex-pats upended a lot of the norms and features that were established to create an online community that was safer for those groups.

I actually liked a lot of what I was seeing in the Fediverse. It reminded me of the early Twitter years when community and people were more important than corporate interests, ads, and trolls. However, I quickly learned that on Mastodon there is also an undercurrent from the marginalized communities that is less than welcoming to others who may disagree with their perspective or beliefs.

As a moderate with conservative and liberal leanings dependent upon the issue, I didn’t feel comfortable with the tone or subjects of many conversations that were taking place. While there were many valid points being made, and it opened my eyes to issues that I hadn’t considered. It also seemed that discussion of those issues was not welcome and often actively punished by blocking or suspension, even when the person wasn’t being inflammatory or an asshat. The attitude was more of you have to listen to what I say, but you need to shut-up and not say anything that doesn’t agree with what I’m saying. I understand how Mastodon’s censorship model came into being, but never really felt comfortable with how some things are handled.

If I do decide to go back to a microblogging social media site at some point in the future, the Mastodon/Fediverse is probably where I will end up. However, for now, I will let the Twitter ex-pats and old-time Mastodonians figure out what the new norms will be. Without me adding in my two cents and dealing with the crap that goes along with being too blunt about things at times while the new norms are being established.

Facebook

I will keep Facebook, not so much because I like it, but because I use it to find out what is happening in the local area, with family or friends, and running club, plus I enjoy my Running Shoe Geeks group. I use it as a communications channel and have or will be deleting most corporate/business accounts that I had followed.

Even so, I will not be all that active there either.

The Reality is that

Looking at where things are now on social media sites, there isn’t a lot of middle ground or so it seems. The vocal minorities, special interest or marginalized groups, along with the trolls require you to be ideologically pure to their beliefs or be attacked. I will never be ideologically pure to and am one of those misfits who doesn’t fit with any one group.

From where I sit, Twitter is becoming a dumpster fire, that I want nothing to do with the direction it is heading. While on Mastodon as a white, married heterosexual, boomer…I am seen by many there as the stereotypical part of the problem. Especially, when I happen to have a perspective on issues that are not shared by certain groups or individuals.

Based on all that crap, this is the perfect opportunity or time to take a time-out from microblogging social media sites. I am sure that I will go through a FOMO phase, but once I get beyond that perhaps the need to use a Twitter-like social media app will diminish quickly as I find other more useful things to do with my time.

I will reluctantly keep Facebook more for the announcements of what is going on than to do much else. Although when I get back to running again, I might get my RSG hat back on.

Will I return to microblogging social media at some point? 

Probably, because I do enjoy the conversations and many of the people that I have met on those platforms. However, for a while, I think a sabbatical from most social media will be a good thing.

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