Goodbye, Twitter

Everything Ends, And That’s Okay.

Today I was thinking of all the websites I’ve spent time on, and the people I’ve met there.

I messed around on the internet in the days of screeching dial-up modems, but I didn’t really start to contribute regularly to online communities until 1995 or so. I met my wife on the Usenet back before that would inspire a gasp of horror; it’s been mostly unusable for decades. I participated in communities on AOL and Prodigy and a few of the other dinosaur provider/forums. I spent lots of time on an etiquette forum until they kicked me off for rudeness (best thing really; my tutoring was going nowhere). I spent lots of time on the Snopes forums, a gaming forum called Gone Gold that one day vanished, its successor gaming forum called Octopus Overlords. I participated in sites devoted to particular games, particular movies, particular hobbies.

Many of those forums are gone now, like the proverbial tears in rain. Usually whatever content I posted there — primitive lawsplainers, snark, banter, arguments — is gone as well. I still interact with many of the people I knew there, having connected with them at a series of successor locations, but many are lost to the decades — people I felt I knew, now only vaguely remembered.

Now it’s Twitter’s turn.

My late friend and co-writer Patrick started @Popehat’s Twitter account and built it. I only started using it around 2014 or so. Gradually I used it more and he used it less, until he split off to his own account. I miss him, and his perspective and wit and humanity, keenly. Twitter’s not the same without him. That’s one reason I’m leaving it.

The other reason is that I think it’s fundamentally changed, at least for now. I’m not just talking about the increasing tech glitches. Just as Twitter’s former leaders exercised their free speech and free association rights to brand Twitter one way, Twitter’s new boss is exercising his rights to brand it another way. That new branding is ugly and despicable and I don’t want to contribute content to it. The last straw was Elon Musk sending lunatics and bigots against former employees and leaning into conspiracy theories. So I’m exercising my free speech and free association and leaving, and shuttering the account. I’ll probably delete the past tweets because I can’t stomach them being available to promote this enterprise.

This is exactly how it’s supposed to work, as I’ve been arguing for years. Twitter — or whoever runs it — has rights. I have rights. If one of us disagrees with the other’s exercise of rights, we can part company. That, not government regulation, is the way to do it. I’m repulsed by the flood of triumphant bigotry and trolling, and by Musk’s sad-lonely-boy leaning into the arms of freaks who embrace him in his fruitless quest for love. But I’d never ask the government to stop it. I’m voting with my feet, exactly the way I’ve been telling people to do for years.

I will continue to write and interact. You can find me at these places:

On the Popehat page on Facebook;

On this Substack, the Popehat Report;

On SeriousTrouble.Show, the Substack for the podcast I co-host with Josh Barro;

On Post.News, “@Popehat”;

On Mastodon at @[email protected];

And by email at ken at popehat dot com.

Everything ends, and that’s okay. New doors open.

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