From Twitter to Mastodon

When I heard Elon Musk might buy Twitter and that he’d let Donald Trump return, I knew I’d likely leave the platform.

The problem wasn’t so much Trump coming back but rather how the media was constantly reporting on his outlandish tweets, over-amplifying his rhetoric. I didn’t follow Trump on Twitter, but I certainly knew what he was saying. All the time. If I didn’t hear it directly from a media outlet, I heard it from folks I followed who were part of the amplification problem.

Reporting what someone says in a one-way dialog is such lazy journalism. There’s no effort made to ask questions, get details or get further clarification. But there’s plenty of analysis. Hours and hours of analysis by both conservative and liberal media outlets. Trump knew this and played it to his complete advantage.

When Twitter banned Trump in January 2021, just before Biden’s inaugural, the media outlets lost their easy source of “news” and Trump lost his huge self-amplifying megaphone for inciting violence. I felt a slightly smaller sense of calm.

Nearly two years later, billionaire Elon Musk buys Twitter and lifts the “permanent suspension” on Trump’s account, allowing him back into the so-called town square. We had kidded ourselves into thinking Twitter was a town square. After all, was it really a town square if it could be bought?

I don’t have a billion dollar megaphone. I don’t have media amplifying my voice. I can only leave after having been on Twitter for 15 years. This shit isn’t worth my sanity.

Having moved to and away from various online communities over 30 years, moving again was easy to do. I felt no emotion, no anxiety over leaving. It’s the same feeling I’ve had in real life when I know it’s simply time to move on to something else like a different job, different group of friends, or a new relationship. Nothing is forever. It was great while it lasted. The cycle goes on.

Immediately, I added my Mastodon account details to my Twitter profile and started announcing I’d be jumping ship.

A few years ago in 2018, I explored Mastodon, a social media platform similar to Twitter but not exactly the same. I was attracted to its federated (decentralized) nature. No one like Musk can swoop in and buy it no matter how popular it may become. I revisited my account and started exploring, making sure I understood the rules and nature of this community before participating. I’ll talk about that in a different post.

Following an article I’d researched about the “right way” to leave Twitter, I requested a Twitter archive, a history of my entire time there — about 10,000 tweets including uploaded images. As soon as I received the download link and retrieved the archive file, I took care of business deleting all my posts (the tweets.js file from the archive was useful) using TweetDelete, removing personal data, disconnecting apps and services, and locking my account.

I left a nondescript profile with a display name that said “Deleted” and a picture of Elon Musk.

I’m clearly in the honeymoon phase of my Mastodon exploration but already a hundred percent satisfied with my transition there. There’s still political talk, but it’s not the amplified rhetoric I’d been experiencing on Twitter. Several other folks who’ve made the move say they see the same thing I do — calm.