Twitter’s volatility has me rethinking everything. Words like “intentionality” spring to mind, but also, I don’t need to be on the platform quite as much as I have been since 2008. It’s offering an opportunity to rethink how I show up online and where I choose to create and consume content. Not the first time, certainly not the last, but one of those, you know, inflection points that gives you a moment to pause and reflect.
Have I been doing it wrong the whole time? Maybe I have.
I’ll unpack that. I just logged into Feedly for the first time since Google Reader shut down in 2013. It was like opening a bunker that closed the moment the war ended. There were blog posts waiting for me from corporate sites I used to follow for work and thousands of unread music and tech news items from nearly a decade ago. It was revelatory. It was the web we lost!
Flash forward a decade. We’ve been contending with algorithmic feeds at every turn. Even a glimpse of a purely chronological timeline made me thing: what if I just go back? I can’t pretend anyone will follow suit, but how can I make my own experience of the web better?
For starters, I’m going to subscribe to Feedly. I’m using Discord to keep in touch with communities I’m part of on Twitter that are dispersing. I’m playing with Reddit more intentionally. I’m loving Patreon and Mixcloud and podcasts. I’m obsessed with TikTok. I just edited way back on Instagram follows and produced a better experience. And I’ve joined Mastodon.
Mastodon? Isn’t that just Twitter all over again? Maybe it is? But maybe it’s not. I am being very selective about how I build community there. I’m not trying to build what I’m leaving on Twitter. I’ve built an audience around locations and jobs, first as a music critic in Philadelphia and then as a corporate communicator there and Detroit, across three industries. The effect is like watching those chunks of the internet perform Google searches in real time around the clock. It’s exhausting. It’s self-inflicted. It’s over.
What I’m loving about onboarding to Mastodon is how slow it is. I’m reminded of those early days on Twitter when you saw everyone’s @ replies and you held on for dear life. But this isn’t like that. I’m looking for some familiar faces and then looking at who they’re following and who’s following them. What I’m trying to do is build something around my interests in music and culture and leaving work to LinkedIn. There’s a slower web if you want it!
If you’re feeling completely wiped out by the experience of trying to replicate what you feel you’ve lost, build something better slowly.