A reluctant return to Twitter

This is not a proud day for me, but full disclosure demands that I tell you about it.


I’m not crazy about what I did today. That said, in view of what I posted here a few months back about leaving Twitter amidst all its continuing chaos, I think you have a right to know that I went back to it. I’ll try to justify my backtracking to you, even if I can’t quite do so for my own peace of mind.

Starting a few days ago, this site’s footer no longer had the Mastodon logo and its link to my account on the mastodon.social instance. That wasn’t an accident; I’d put the account on “hiatus” status while considering a return to Twitter. I knew such a decision would be personally distasteful (and extremely unpopular among the followers I’d accumulated on Mastodon since becoming active there a few months back) and, yet, it was growing more likely, for reasons I’ll cover later.

Since I’d killed my previous Twitter account a few weeks ago, I started a new one and began following what, over the next few days, would amount to several hundred accounts in the fields of news, sports, science/space, and web development. This would let me sample the waters while I considered whether I really, truly would go through with this return.

Today, I made up my mind to proceed.

I then confessed on Mastodon behind the Content Warning “Birdsite / apology 😞 🤢”:

*[Pausing before saying something the crowd won’t like…]*

Seeing that many entities and personal/business contacts whom I’d long followed are still on Twitter — and that many, if not most, likely won’t come to Mastodon no matter what — I am on the birdsite once again.

😞 🤢

I surely understand any negative reactions and unfollows that admission may cause here, and I extend sincere apologies to you all. If it helps, I did this reluctantly.

Mar. 22, 2023 • 9:38 AM CDT (2:38 PM UTC)

Let me elaborate on and add to that statement:

  • Ever since I first joined Twitter back in 2011 (the first of, now, three Twitter accounts I’ve had over the years), I’d always used its Tweetdeck incarnation to track major current events by following the Twitter accounts of numerous news-gathering organizations, reporters, commentators, and even government agencies like NASA and NOAA. (Believe me, somebody living in Tornado Alley wants to see weather data and storm-spotter reports ASAP.) Few if any of those have made it over to Mastodon in any form other than through “repeater bots” — e.g., Sportsbots — and it appeared that’s not changing. I got tired of missing all that information, which usually arrives well ahead of anything I can get from those entities’ more mainstream presentations, such as websites and apps.
  • Quite a few developers and Jamstack-related companies whose accounts I’d found very helpful, including some with whom I formerly would converse over Twitter, never had any intention of leaving Twitter at all. (Some were quite emphatic about it, in fact.) While their views on this issue disappointed me, I still wanted to keep up with their current thoughts on their fields of expertise.
  • Especially in recent days, I noticed that some other folks are reluctantly re-activating previously dormant Twitter accounts mainly because they’d seen that leaving for Mastodon had hurt their personal brands, their projects’ brands, or both. Although I don’t really have a “brand,” I have made past contacts, at least partly through Twitter, which provided me opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise; and I can’t really turn my back on those kind of contacts going forward.
  • Some major companies, my long-time ISP among them, provide their best customer support via Twitter, and pretty certainly are going to stay on that platform. I knew I might need that access again, as I have in the past, when other avenues just aren’t working quickly enough.

Do any of those excuse me for this retreat? I doubt it. But those are the factors on which I made my choice.

Finally, just so you won’t think I’ve changed my mind completely . . .

Be advised I still consider Elon Musk’s stewardship of Twitter so far to have been a [bleep]-show from the start that’s only getting worse, and I won’t be surprised if the whole platform collapses sooner rather than later. (In view of the potential security issues Twitter’s continuing glitchiness presents, I took some extra precautions when starting this new account. I hope they’ll protect me in case of a meltdown, or mass data breach, or any other such messes.) But, if so many whose data and opinions I want to see are determined to stay there, c’est la guerre.

Besides: unless I’m prepared to live off the grid, I have to accept that rich, evil SOBs control many services and products I use and need. Twitter is only one example thereof. That is reality. I didn’t build it; I just inhabit it. Reluctantly.

Updates from the future: Not long after this post, I decided I would use the Twitter account only to view content, specifically the types I mentioned above, rather than tweeting any of my own.

Also, I am no longer active on the Fediverse under any account.

A few weeks later, I changed my mind.