Twitter in free-fall…what I’ve loved, hope not to lose

By Caitlin Kelly

I’m not sure how many of you use Twitter or appreciate it or have been following the nightmare takeover by Elon Musk whose every move as its new owner reeks of weird desperation and feudal overlord vibes.

Here’s the latest on it from The New York Times:

A taste:

The order for immediate layoffs, the ensuing panic and the about-face reflect the chaos that has engulfed Twitter since Mr. Musk took over the company two weeks ago. The 51-year-old barreled in with ideas about how the social media service should operate, but with no comprehensive plan to execute them. Then he quickly ran into the business, legal and financial complexities of running a platform that has been called a global town square.

It’s really depressing!

OK, it’s really depressing for those of us — many of us writers and journalists — who have relied heavily on the site for years as a great place to promote our work and our skills.

I found two of my favorite assignments ever there, one a profile of a senior energy executive for a Finnish company (referred to an editor in Helsinki by a Twitter pal in London) and a time writing blog posts about, of all things, pancreatic cancer research, also for a woman who found me solely thanks to my posts there.

I’ve never blogged about either topic and would never have put my hand up for these assignments — but they were fascinating and well-paid and I’m grateful!

But my love for Twitter (which I know is a hellscape of trolls and bots if you end up in the wrong corners) is also based on the global connections and some new friendships I’ve made there, as have so many.

And, yes, I’ve blocked some truly obnoxious people, usually men who can’t tolerate the idea of a woman who dares to disagree, even politely, with them.

One of my dreams has been to get my first book back into print, revised and updated. Thanks to Twitter, I recently contacted an editor whose house might be a good fit — that just wouldn’t have happened for me otherwise. I wouldn’t have dared and I wouldn’t have known the etiquette.

What I like most about the platform is how real (or not) you can be. I post serious stuff about writing and travel and sometimes about politics. I retweet art and photos. I’m just me. I’m not there to be fake or hard sell although some are.

This week I got into a lovely and sentimental conversation with two other Canadian women (strangers!) about our much beloved childhood hamsters — one even shared a photo. I love this stuff.

Social media was designed to be social.

Some of my many treasured Twitter finds:

— an archeologist in Berlin whose main work is based in Turkey at Gobekli Tepe, a Neolithic site. I think we connected through a Twitterchat. When I finally visited Berlin in July 2017 we met for lunch.

— A prolific mudlarker in London, Laura Maiklem, who routinely posts images of treasures like a Tudor shoe. She’s gained more than 200,000 social media followers.

A fantastic daily stream of Canadian paintings, in every medium, from every era. It began in 2018. So cool!

— Photos of 18th century clothing from various historians.

— pictures of various ancient mosaics from several female archeologists.

— inside dope on aviation from professional and amateur pilots, a group of #avgeeks.

— a Dutch woman who (!) is knitting me an amazing hat

— Gorgeous landscape photography, much of it from Scotland and England.

— I also really enjoy two weekly Twitterchats, where I meet up with fellow enthusiasts from around the world; #TRLT, for The Road Less Traveled, which draws people from Vancouver to Malawi. And #FreelanceChat, which assembles freelancers for a lively conversation and which teaches each of us new tips and insights.

I know a lot of people have already left Twitter and fled to Mastodon.

I haven’t yet, It feels really unwieldy and not nearly as easy to find and spark this sort of cross-disciplinary conversation.

Have you been a Twitter fan?

Have you left?

Have you joined Mastodon?

20 thoughts on “Twitter in free-fall…what I’ve loved, hope not to lose

  1. Jan Jasper

    I avoid social media because I see it as a time sink, but I can certainly see that there can be substantial benefits. Caitlin, for years you have been so successful using social media to find friends around the world and to get work as well. I can imagine how worrisome it would be to think that Twitter could go away. Actually reading your post today about all the wonderful discoveries you’ve made through Twitter kind of inspired me to dip my toe into Twitter. Alas I may be too late. It sounds like Musk has no idea what he’s gotten into and now that the departure of several senior staffers has gotten Twitter into trouble with the FCC – on top of the other messes there – I don’t know how it can even survive. What a shame that would be.

  2. I’m on Twitter and sticking around for now. It’s been good to me and I’ve made great connections with it. However, if things continue to spiral, I might jump ship for something else. Maybe Mastodon, though I know absolutely nothing about it.

      1. On the bright side, Twitter still has its nice moments. Case in point: I saw Hairspray yesterday with my mother. Both the official show account and the actor playing Link Larkin liked my tweet about it.

  3. I’m really not a user, my daughter has me on, but I rarely check in. I do understand the value of connection and new opportunities on a professional basis and I know it will be a loss in that capacity. it seems to have been very beneficial for you and many others

  4. I’ve loved Twitter for most of the reasons you cite. I’m also a political junkie and my community is at Twitter. I’m not bothered much by bots and trolls–don’t know why, but I’m okay with it.
    I’ve joined Mastodon and Tribel but they’re both too complicated and not anywhere near as effective as Twitter. They’re buildings with rooms, not town squares. It’s too hard to find our peeps,
    I don’t use it for my writing–not because I wouldn’t want to but because I’ve never been successful at it. I’m thrilled that you’ve found it so useful. That’s pretty amazing.
    I really hope Twitter rebounds. There really is nothing else like it.

  5. fionayb

    I am still on Twitter and plan to stay for now. I have scaled back my use over the last few years as it can suck too much of my time and energy. On the other hand, where else can you connect so freely with favorite authors, potential interview subjects, and more? I also just do not have the mental bandwidth right now to want to deal with a new network elsewhere.

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