Platform Dependence

It’s hard for me to write about this without slipping into speechify mode; this is Attempt #3, so I’m going to try and keep it light and casual, while also hitting the high points I want to hit.

This is, of course, about Twitter’s potential sale. It’s being viewed as Bad News by folks in my feed, which means that it is, in fact, Very Bad News, because according to the math compound sentiment from Very Good People amplifies the result. It’s just math.

Should the deal succeed, that means Twitter would undoubtedly become about 1000x more toxic than it is today. Word on the street is that folks are at least sarcastically opining about where their next social home will be, which in today’s day and age is basically an admission that Twitter has graduated from simple dumpster fire to full-throated five alarm Act of Gawd.

What are the alternatives, though? There’s Mastodon, of course, which has been my go-to mention every time I write this post. It was designed to be like Twitter, but with a white-list designed to keep the community on the same page. While it is an alternative, it’s not a panacea divorced from the worst parts of Twitter. Many people have mentioned Discord, which many folks are already using, but seeing as how Discord is aimed at real time conversations and voice chat, it makes having conversations difficult. I personally prefer Guilded, which offers everything Discord does (some of it better) in addition to things like dedicated media channels and real, old-school forums. But like the old Facebook vs Google Plus situation, Discord has become the de facto social space of its kind, leaving people to ask of Guilded “why do we need another social platform”?

I think the answer should now be obvious: we can never trust those who run these platforms to have our best interest in mind. They will do what they need to in order to keep the lights on, and they all know that after people have been using their service for years, it’ll be impossible to leave it lest they abandon their years of history, muscle-memory, and convenience. No one wants to make a move to a pristine platform just because it’s new, but if we don’t consider all options then we’re willfully tethering ourselves to a service that could turn against us as soon as its profitable to do so.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any good alternative to Twitter right now, just a bunch of OK ones. Truth be told, it’s not even a done-deal, but at this point we have to accept that it’s not if Twitter sells, but when. Even if we get a reprieve this time, we should probably consider our exit strategies.


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