Going, going…. gone!

@paulfilkin twitter profile imageIt may be a little small to read but my social highlights for twitter  were:

      • joined in July 2010
      • tweeted 24.3K times
      • follow 16 users
      • followed by 1878 users

With the exception of youtube twitter was the only social media account I had retained.  youtube is more of a place to host and share videos and less of a platform I have to visit for anything else, so my exposure to the material in there is limited.  Twitter on the other hand… I can’t bring myself to call it X which is one of the most stupid marketing decisions I have seen in years… was a tool I liked to use because through tweetdeck I could easily filter out the nonsense and only be exposed, pretty much, to what I wanted to see.

But not anymore… so this is a just a short… ish post in case anyone is interested enough to wonder where I’ve gone!  I have downloaded all the data twitter had on me and stored it away for posterity and then deactivated my account.  So if anyone finds a profile on any social site please rest assured it isn’t me!  Maybe drop me a line and tell me too!

The removal of tweetdeck as a free tool and the total commercialisation of twitter was the final straw for me.  Of course Musk can do whatever he believes is the right thing to do when he spends billions to buy a company, but it feels like the end of what things could be like for me.  It’s been heading this way for a while and I’m not interested in being the product in my personal life anymore.

Of course social media offers amazing benefits as we’re so often told…

  • connecting and networking
  • instant news and information
  • educational resources
  • support and community building
  • promotion and brand building
  • social movements and awareness
  • job opportunities and professional networking
  • entertainment and leisure
  • customer service and feedback
  • sharing personal moments and achievements
  • empowerment of marginalised voices
  • etc…

But it also brings a darker side… as we’re also often told…

  • mental health impacts
  • cyberbullying and harassment
  • spread of misinformation and fake news
  • privacy concerns
  • reduced face-to-face interactions
  • addictive behaviours
  • distorted reality
  • wasted time and reduced productivity
  • exposure to inappropriate content
  • echo chambers and polarization
  • fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • etc.

Balancing the positive aspects of social media with the potential negative impacts isn’t always straight forward once you are involved and the net effect of how successful you can be may often depend on the platform and your personal habits and intentions.  I’ve tried hard not to use it for my “real” personal life for a very long time, but since this blog is also a personal endeavour my main interest in these social tools has always been about sharing and extending my reach as much as I could without directly paying for it.  Don’t think we don’t pay for these things in other ways!

The interplay between the positive aspects and the potential negative consequences probably isn’t linear.  Some of us might be more susceptible to the negatives, while others might primarily reap the benefits.  So it’s really important for us to be informed, self-aware, and intentional about our social media consumption.  Set time limits, curate our feeds, and try to disconnect as much as we can.  All sounds simple but more and more no matter how I tried to curate, the crap just keeps filtering in.  I don’t need to have information forced down my throat… if I want something I can go and look for it!

The explosion of information in the digital age, often accurately referred to as “information overload,” presents a significant challenge for everyone trying to disseminate valuable and relevant content.  Our best endeavours are up against companies determined to provide us with what they think we need.  So amidst this vast sea of content, ranging from trivial to vital, ensuring that any message we also want to share is seen and heard isn’t just daunting, it’s completely drowned.

Most social media platforms use algorithms to decide what content to show their users.  These algorithms prioritise content based on various factors, including user engagement (likes, shares, comments), relevance, and recency.  This means that even if your content is valuable, it might be overshadowed by more popular or sensationalised content.

In this digital age, attention has become a scarce commodity.  Platforms compete aggressively for our attention.  I’m sure we can all see the sensational, clickbait content getting more visibility, often at the expense of more informative or nuanced content.  Finding interesting information even on the one platform I have left, youtube, is increasingly difficult to do.

With billions of posts, tweets, videos, and articles being published daily, even valuable content will easily get lost in the noise.  The sheer volume of content means that only a tiny fraction of it will achieve significant visibility.  And with so much content vying for attention, individual pieces of content only have a brief moment to capture your interest.  So this is going to make it challenging for longer, in-depth content to gain traction, even if it’s highly valuable.  And to make matters worse the increased use of AI will  both improve and complicate the process of separating the “wheat from the chaff” in almost every domain.

So when when these “benefits” are weighed up against the negative aspects, and I mean honestly weighed up, do I really think they are benefits?  Or are these points just marketing hype that the platforms themselves would use to encourage their use?  I think this is probably valid scepticism we’ve all thought about, and many critics, researchers, and social commentators have raised similar concerns.  So while there are undeniable benefits to using social media and multipurpose platforms, the overall value depends on several factors, including how we use them, their potential for misuse, and individual susceptibility to one or more of the negative aspects.

The potential negative aspects of these platforms, such as data privacy concerns, mental health implications, echo chambers, spread of misinformation, and the addictive nature of the platforms, can outweigh the benefits for us individuals, especially if we’re not cautious and intentional about their use. So I ask myself…

  • are these platforms serving my goals or the platform’s goals?
  • am I in control of my time and content, or am I being manipulated by the platform’s design and algorithms?
  • are the connections and engagements I’m fostering meaningful, or are they superficial?

Screenshot of a disappearing twitter logoI’m sure each of these points could break down into many more questions, but for me these are enough and I’ve lost the interest and desire to participate any more.  So I’ll continue to write my articles just because I like writing them and I learn a lot myself in doing so.  But I’m not going to share them myself anymore!  In the unlikely event you used twitter to stay informed then perhaps consider subscribing to my blog instead!

4 thoughts on “Going, going…. gone!

  1. I applaud your decision. At some point, you need to follow your conscience. I quit Twitter the day after EM took over, so… Not that it suffered without me, but I couldn’t bear to be part of that egomaniacal move. And not that facebook is innocent. It serves my purposes, though, for posting about lost dogs/cats in my area.

  2. I’m glad to already be a subscriber of your blog. I quit Twitter when I heard he was going to buy it. I figured things would not go well – and they haven’t.

    1. Thanks Jill… I was optimistic for a while, but I think he’s let everyone down. The news yesterday he was going to remove the ability to block the crap his paying customers want to shove down your throat I imagine will be the nail in the coffin for many more. He doesn’t seem to realise he doesn’t have a captive audience.

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