Like many Very Online people with ‘Likes computers’ as their main hobby, I’ve been moving away from the Big Tech services over the years. There are good reasons for doing it (1, 2, 3, 4). But for many folks, it’s a lot of effort or totally impossible. They’ve also got huge parts of their lives tied up in these platforms, so moving away isn’t that valuable.
I’ve dropped Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, Gmail and other platforms over the years because I’m able to. Even for technically literate hobbyists, it’s not that easy. But I’m sure we do it because, well, for us it’s fun. We like tinkering and setting up new connections and being the early adopters.
I think it’s natural for town squares to fragment: there are more people online now, more communities for all your varied interests, and therefore people can adopt multiple identities. So big platforms will fracture as people seek to live out their other lives elsewhere (without accidentally crossing the streams).
I don’t really have multiple identities1. All my favourite hip-hop artists do, but I have two identities at best: professional Steve, using capital letters in tweets; and quasi-stoned brainfarts, all lowercase, that pass as ‘personal’ tweets. My blog is somewhere in the middle.
Why move away from Twitter then? It’s less about that, more about coalescing around the platform I own. Posting things on my website and syndicating out from there. For example, I started writing notes here and only sharing those on RSS. That’s been enjoyable, helped widen my thinking. Sharing ideas is useful because you get feedback. And with my website at the heart, I can syndicate on whichever network is hot this year. Platforms change but cool URIs don’t.
I don’t think Twitter will die any time soon, and there’s a good community there whom I’d miss if I had to leave it. But I should probably resurrect some creative outlets, like photography, on my website, and syndicate it out from there. From the home.
Photographer Steve died when I stopped using Flickr and Tumblr. Shitpost Steve died when I left Snapchat and Instagram. A lot of my friends adopted Signal when I left WhatsApp, which I’m grateful for, otherwise Real Steve would probably have died too. ↩
Got comments? Contact me, let’s talk.