I was a Twitter early-adopter, after seeing it demonstrated at SXSW in 2008. I was skeptical, at first (what is this for?) but quickly fell in love. Early Twitter was full of techies and the uber-connected. People shared bug fixes and what they were having for lunch.
It helped me write my first book, Murder in Ocean Hall. Working in coffee shops, I’d post how many words I had written that day. The encouragement I received from others kept me writing.
i’m up to 40,000 words in “Murder in Ocean Hall”
— Joe Flood (@joeflood) December 16, 2008
Before the politicians got a hold of it, Twitter was a quirky, positive place where you could make connections to real people.
Twitter was invaluable for bringing the bike community in DC together. Posting under the #BikeDC hashtag, we shared tips on routes and got together for monthly meetups.
— Joe Flood (@joeflood) November 22, 2019
Like many things in America, all that went to shit in 2016. Trump touched Twitter and it died.
A slow death, the platform becoming ever more poisonous and hateful, an arena for public shaming and organizing online lynch mobs. This is the Twitter I wrote about in LIKES, my book of short stories about social media addiction.
I remained on Twitter, the joy long since gone, but the compulsion remaining.
Threads is the first time I’ve felt social media joy again. It’s shiny, new-toy syndrome but at the moment, Threads feels more positive and real than the bot-choked hellspace that is Twitter under Elon Musk.
Yes, I am replacing one billionaire tyrant for another, the deceptive benevolence of Mark Zuckerberg for the unmasked fascism of Elon Musk.
And I realize that nothing is free, that I am the product, that Zuck is mining my data and preferences to resell for pennies to corporate America.
But if you’re going to use social media, shouldn’t it be fun? And shouldn’t it be Nazi-free?
After going viral for being Red Bike Guy, I received thousands of new Twitter followers. My following on Threads is much, much smaller.
But does that matter? No. For the moment, the interactions are more positive. More real. More like the early days of Twitter before Trump and Elon ruined the platform.