Twitter Is a Mess! The 7 Reasons I'll Stay Engaged There
Twitter Was Never Perfect But It Remains a Unique Place for Discussion of Serious Issues
Twitter is a mess. After owning the platform for less than three weeks, Elon Musk is already talking about bankruptcy. While I think that is unlikely—there are too many intelligent people in Musk’s orbit—bankruptcy came up because recent changes haven’t made the social media platform better, and advertisers have suspended spending.
Let’s be clear about a critical fact: Twitter wasn’t perfect before. It wasn’t just Musk and conservatives angry that Twitter booted former President Donald Trump from the platform that complained about its many weaknesses. There is hardly a Twitter user who couldn’t offer a list of things to be improved.
Still, Twitter was—and remains—a unique space in the interwebs for discussing important topics. The fact that Presidents Obama and Trump both used Twitter extensively is telling. Obama remains actively engaged, and Trump almost certainly would be if Twitter didn’t believe he had used the platform to incite a violent insurrection. President Biden is active on Twitter, too.
So, here are the reasons I’ll remain engaged on Twitter:
The investment. I’ve invested 15 years on the platform this month. For better or worse, I actively manage four accounts on Twitter and have built up a following that enables me to connect with more people than on any other social media platform.
Discussion. Discussion among people who disagree is vitally important. Twitter does not facilitate earnest, thoughtful, patient, deep debate among people with differing opinions. It fosters caustic, shallow arguments. Still, it encourages discussion rather than isolation in echo chambers.
Curbing excess. Suppose Twitter is trending toward becoming a “free-for-all hellscape” despite Musk’s promise it won’t be. In that case, good people must use the platform to curb the excesses of liars, conspiracy theorists, charlatans and insurrectionists. The mechanisms to report accounts promoting patently false information remain in place.
Advocating change. There are countless things I want to change in the world that are more important than whether there is an edit function on Twitter. I will continue using Twitter to advocate for vital things like reversing climate change, improving global health and fighting poverty and social injustice.
Building friendships. I find joy in connecting with people. When I use Twitter to discuss unifying topics, I connect with people and build new friendships. I have a few friends who believe they have enough friends—I think this comes from a desire to be a good friend to all their friends—I am always eager to make new ones.
Fun. I have social media accounts that I actively use on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin, as well as accounts on a variety of other platforms I use seldom or never, like Tumblr and Pinterest. I’ve never found one I enjoy as much as Twitter.
I can’t dance. Don’t watch for me on TikTok.
So, there you have my seven reasons for remaining on Twitter. I reserve the right you also have to change your mind at any time.
One reason my mind could change is that arguments on Twitter can be triggering. For me—and countless people like me—that’s unhealthy. I have a friend, James Bramble, on Twitter who is something of a role model. He tweets critiques to the powerful in the kind, polite language he’d use sitting across a table to explain a disagreement.
When I channel my inner Jim, I find discussions aren’t so triggering and can be more constructive. I’ll continue working to be more like Jim.
Everyone on Twitter will make their own decisions about staying and how they engage as the platform evolves in the coming weeks and months. I respect every choice as valid.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.