Editorial: Elon Musk, Twitter, and Some Thoughts About My Relationship with Social Media

3 weeks ago 25

So, while I am supposed to be marking final assignments for a course I am team-teaching this semester, and working on a proposal for a virtual reality lab for my university library system, and worrying about a cracked tooth which may or may not be fixed and might still require a root canal, why the hell am I blogging about Elon Musk buying Twitter for US$44 billion?

I have a lamentable history of jumping feet-first into new social networks ever since the early days of Friendster, circa 2003 (more details here and here). So it was with similar reckless abandon that I:

  • Set up an account on one Mastodon server, http://mastodon.online (which is run by the founder, CEO, and lead developer of Mastodon himself, Eugen), and then I was told that all the cool kids 😎 were hanging over at http://mastodon.social, so I set up an account there, too, and then set up a redirect from the former to the latter; and
  • Blasted out to most of my Twitter contacts that I was moving from Twitter to Mastodon:

I got myself so wound up last night that I could not fall asleep until quite late, and when I finally dragged myself out of bed this morning, I tweeted:

In my old(er) age, I now recognize the dopamine rush I get from joining a new social network (in this case, Mastodon), and furiously (re)making connections. So, for now at least, I will keep a foot in both camps (Twitter and Mastodon), and moderate my social media usage. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/I9vJxY43HW

— Ryan Schultz (@quiplash) April 26, 2022

In other words, I went and did with Mastodon what I have done with every other new social network I have ever encountered: went hog-wild with the possibilities of making often-tenuous connections with other people and operating under the delusion that my personal worth is somehow defined by the size, shape, and activity of my social graph! I am, however, getting much better at diagnosing the problem when it happens, and this time around, I figured it out within 24 hours, which is actually an achievement!

So, regardless of the impact of Elon Musk’s acquisition and control of Twitter, I’ve decided that it’s as good a time as any to rethink my relationship with social media in general, and Twitter in particular. And I’m going to keep one foot in Twitter, and another in Mastodon as my Plan B, and wait, watch, and see what develops, and act accordingly.

If you want to kick the tires yourself on Mastodon, start here.

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