I have been mulling over leaving Twitter and Facebook, or at least using them much less. The thought on Facebook has been there for a while, because to the service is bringing people's awful sides out and the algorithms are making choices in my behalf.
Over at Twitter the things have been getting worse and worse too. While bullies and white supremacists are reigning, the folks in charge of the service are sitting on their hands. Either they are ignoring the complaints, or are making pointless technical changes. And now, with the 280 character long Tweets enabled, my Twitter timeline is a mess. Good riddance?
Here's why I'm not leaving Twitter or Facebook. At least for now. And at least by my own choice. I'm not to be silenced.
I was thinking about what happens if I would quit using one of these services, and it was immediately clear. Those who don't like what I share would get what they want. I wouldn't be there to ruin their day with my thoughts. What would I get? Nothing.
The Internet is my platform. Not only it's a platform, but at least at the moment it is my only platform. I don't have that much a voice, I'm not a celebrity or a widely followed thought leader. This website is not the most visited corner of the web. However, this is where I get my voice heard, even by a little group of people.
I could leave services like Twitter or Facebook, and concentrate my effort on this website and on my email list. Most of my followers and friends on those other platforms wouldn't follow me here. Not even if that was the only option to keep following me. I don't have that kind of a following, I don't really know who does. I have seen much more popular people running out of Twitter and Facebook, not getting their followers to join them.
Email lists are a huge deal these days. One of the myths around email lists is that you 100% own your list, unlike on social media platforms where your followings are in the hands of whoever is in charge of choosing if you are allowed to use the service. There's a point in there, even though it is an exaggeration. Around services, such as Twitter and Facebook, you can find yourself suspended for all kinds of reasons. Basically, these services being owned by businesses, they have the right to do whatever they want to do. Even if it's letting the bullies and racists harass everyone, and silencing all those who object. (I don't say it's okay, though.)
I don't know. Maybe if I had a humongous email list, which I would know to keep growing without my attendance on these services. Maybe then I would seriously consider stepping away. Maybe. Even then I wouldn't like the idea of being silenced.
As much as I don't like it, these services rule online. If you don't use them, you kind of don't exist. Unless you are otherwise well known.
It is really sad. Back in days, in the dawn of this time of Twitter and Facebook and all these other services, many of us online folks had an idea of a bright future. The future of open web, where everyone would be equal and have a voice. Where people would read blogs and comment and share thoughts and make updates and read them and share them again. Optimistic, sure. Naive, perhaps.
I have seen some people going on about outrage culture. Complaining how everything causes a ruckus. I have complained about how loud my online world has became. I have changed my mind about it. It's not the loudness of it that's the problem. It's trying to silence the different voices.
It isn't outrage culture, if lots of people are finally daring to raise their voices against racism, harassment, offensive stuff, or something that's just not right. That's progress. Yes, some people don't know the difference between criticism and threats. Calling it outrage culture, when many people are Tweeting about the abuse in Hollywood, is hoping for those people to keep it quiet. Maybe even hoping that nobody says anything about you and your misconduct. Hoping it would all go away and we could again talk about weather and how to make the algorithms work better. Hush, outrage.
So no. I'm not leaving Twitter or Facebook anytime soon. I may sometimes be more quiet. I may take breaks. I may not be available every day, every moment. As long as it is my choice (and I'm not being kicked out of these services), I am not being silenced. Not by others, not by people who complain about outrage culture or those who don't want me to say what I want to say. Not by myself.
You don't get rid of me so easily.