Oh good, another “I’m quitting _______” post

I want to love Instagram. Really. It’s the least toxic of the big social networks and it’s mostly photography-centric. My problem with Instagram isn’t the content. My problem is with the feed. I don’t like it. In fact I don’t like it to the point of quitting the whole thing.

I get it, we’re beyond the halcyon days of reverse-chronological timelines on any significant social network, but good grief I can’t make heads or tails of what Instagram is feeding me (see this article for a few examples.)

They also seem to have ramped up the number of ads to every-half-dozen-posts-is-an-ad levels.

And their API is still read-only so you can get stuff out but can’t put stuff in via any method other than their own tools (with exceptions).

I’m out.

I know, I know, this has happened before but I’m doing it (and writing it down) anyway. After all, it’s not like I don’t have any perfectly fine image sharing options. Let’s see…

You get the idea.

It’s hard to not be where everyone else is, so who knows how long this will last, but it’s worth another attempt so here we go.

Friends vs Followers on Micro.blog

If I’m honest, the reason I originally backed and then joined Micro.blog by Manton Reese is that I enjoy tinkering with new platforms and social networks. I try them all. Manton’s ideas about “owning your content” and the hooks into IndieWeb ideas were just icing.

I came for the novelty, but stayed because it’s become my favorite place to be.

@Smokey’s recent post, Two Weeks with Micro.blog, had me nodding in agreement throughout. He lists some great reasons to enjoy being part of the Micro.blog community.

Beyond Smokey’s spot-on list, I’d like to point out a feature of Micro.blog that is so small it’s easy to overlook; There’s no way to know how many followers other people have. This may seem trivial, or even an oversight, but I’m convinced that it’s a critical component of Micro.blog. It is for me, anyway.

Years ago on Twitter, I would use follower counts as an indicator of authority or perhaps as a way to gauge someone’s impact on a community or topic. With so many followers, he or she must have useful or interesting things to say, right? That probably wasn’t a great way to think about follower counts even then, but it worked as often as not.

Today however, it’s become about gaming the system. High follower counts on social networks only demonstrate an ability to gain followers. Not useful. This leads to replies on Twitter feeling like nothing more than desperate grabs for attention.

On Micro.blog, replies feel like a conversation with a person. Imagine that.

I check Micro.blog many times a day, but not for entertainment or to see how many faves I’ve gotten. I do it to see what my friends are up to.

It may be presumptuous to call the people I follow on Micro.blog “friends”, since I don’t actually know any of them, but I can’t think of a better word. I certainly don’t call them “followers”.

I’m not leaving Twitter – yet

Om Malik, “The Internet of Love”:

I share these stories, not to laud these individuals, but as a way to remind us that the web we had before the madness and monetization of relationships began, is still around. We don’t need to focus on the negative, and instead try to use the social web, by being accountable to each other. All it takes is one to focus on how to be good to each other on the Internet – not by shouting, but by helping and encouraging absolute strangers.

And earlier:

The random acts of kindness that made Internet so beautiful and magical still exist.

I know I’m supposed to hate Twitter–and some days I do–but mostly I love Twitter. I have whittled down the people and companies I follow to those who generally share positive, funny, interesting, or useful things. My follower count is low enough that I’m not terribly susceptible to trolls.

As it stands my experience on Twitter is mostly positive as long as I don’t wander too far into the weeds. I understand that as a white male my odds of being piled on or harassed is drastically lower than for many others.

So, as someone who seems to have finally found a balance and uses Twitter for discovery, entertainment, and local news, should I delete Twitter on principal? Am I being insensitive or selfish by “perpetuating an atmosphere of harassment and hate”? Am I simply rationalizing an addiction? Can I quit any time I want?

I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud here.

If I listen to people on non-Twitter (or more accurately, anti-Twitter) social networks, I’m part of the problem by simply having an account. That feels unfair. I’ve made a concerted effort to be positive and helpful whenever I post something. One could argue that I’m protesting by “being the change I want to see in the world” but that’s probably stretching it a bit.

I hate that Twitter has become such a garbage pile for so many. It’s terrible what people are subjected to for just voicing an opinion. It’s scary that it’s being used by buffoons in a way that puts us at risk of nuclear war. It’s disappointing that Twitter’s leadership seems to be flailing about, unable or unwilling to fix the most serious problems.

Yet, I continue to learn, discover, laugh, share, and interact with interesting and generally wonderful people on Twitter every day.

There may come a time, possibly soon, when it’s no longer sustainable for me to remain a participant. I admit that there is a certain amount of guilt and anger associated with Twitter. But now that I’ve curated things sufficiently and cut back my time there dramatically, these feelings remain mostly at a low level. Background noise.

I like the idea of quitting Twitter. Quite often I consider quitting on principle alone. There are times I think I’m simply addicted to the stream of new stuff that keeps me from having to do real things.

On the other hand, for me, the beauty and magic Om mentions is still there. I’ll be staying. For now.

Nobody’s Version of Dumb

Sherri Spelic, reacting to a tweet by George Siemens:

I, for one, came because I was looking for others who could help me grow. I was in the market for good writing and good people and I found them. The longer I stayed and the more I engaged, good people found me. Good writing – I mean, strong, critical, robust and also sensitive writing walked right up to me and said, “Hi!” I got involved. I created adjoining spaces and fashioned a new home to welcome some of that rich writing. And I found art, humor, compassion, support, care, and (*praise hands*) Black Twitter. My life has been tremendously enlivened and broadened through my social media connections. I am a smart person who is more open, more aware, more vocal and more critical due to my connections via social media.

I believe that twitter does make some of us dumber. I also find that it can be a wonderful place to discover and interact with intelligent, funny, productive people that I would never have known otherwise. I learn a great deal on Twitter. I laugh, a lot. I swear in anger and frustration. I click things that take me to amazing places.

Things become what you make of them.

I just want everyone to start blogging again

Would you all please just start a blog? I don’t care which platform you choose. Pick one and publish. Cross-post or don’t. Implement Webmentions or don’t. Allow comments or don’t. Tweak the design to within an inch of its life or don’t. Publish long posts or short, it doesn’t matter.

Just please write stuff and publish it and provide an RSS/Atom/JSON feed so I can easily keep up with it. It’s pretty easy.

I shouldn’t need Twitter or Facebook for this stuff.


Decline and return of indie blogs – Manton Reece

Manton Reece:

The solution isn’t fewer link blogs, but more of them. By taking microblogging back from Twitter, we create a natural place for traditional blogs to grow. Indie microblogging is the gateway drug for long-form content.

I’d love for this to be true, but I wonder if it is. If short-form blogging was the gateway drug to long-form blogging, wouldn’t Twitter have already lead the way? I’m rooting for the Indieweb, but not sure we’ll ever be able to pull ourselves out of the situation we’ve created.

(The irony of this being a link post isn’t lost on me)

I’m no longer cross-posting

I’m beginning to feel like cross-posting everywhere is rude to readers in many cases. Who wants to see the same content everywhere they turn? My followers on Twitter and Facebook don’t overlap much, so most people see my stuff only once.

On the other hand, the type of content that is useful differs on each platform, so sending everything everywhere may not be wanted.

Plus, does everything that comes out of my head really need to be seen by everyone, automatically? I don’t think so. I should probably just get over myself and hand-post only the things I think might be welcome or that I’m particularly fond of, in a format suitable to each platform.