I check into Musk’s X every few days, but I no longer *use* it as I once did, as a way of learning from credible experts responding to breaking news, and as a way of connecting with colleagues in my field, mostly just listening quietly while they shared their wisdom with each other. I first joined Twitter in 2009, during an academic conference panel when one of the speakers offered a rebuttal to what was being said on Twitter during the conference.
This Wired article is less about Twitter than it is about the fragmentation of social media in general, but this excerpt on Twitter does a good job capturing what it’s been like watching a cultural mainstay disintegrate before our eyes.
Influence is one attribute Twitter never lacked, as evidenced by the mad dash in Silicon Valley to fill the gulf its collapse is leaving. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time on the platform over the last decade. It was the avenue of the Black Lives Matter movement, a megaphone for everyday users, and, through a wave of history-setting and history-unsettling US elections, transformed culture into a 24/7 participatory event. There is no #MeToo without Twitter, nor the beginnings of a racial reckoning in Hollywood. Twitter refashioned the look of communication through a vernacular of memes and GIFs, where resident collectives like Black Twitter and NBA Twitter excelled as virtuosos of the form.
It has now been a year since Elon Musk assumed control of Twitter, and in what felt like record time, he has taken a sledgehammer to everything that gave the platform its unique draw (issues of safety and inclusion were a problem under former CEO Jack Dorsey but have significantly worsened). There is a void in the social media universe that, until now, Twitter singularly occupied. —Wired