i never had a myspace page. i am one of those people who prefers to live by the beat of her own drum, purposefully refusing to conform to trends and crowd behavior. (it is an annoying trait, but i will not be a sheep, damnit!). and boy oh boy the people were on myspace! i was in my late teens, evolving into a young adult on her own journey, as impressionable as the day is long. but just not that impressionable.
what i do remember is interning for a marketing department, spending hours a day following and friending people on myspace in order to grow our reach. and within a year, myspace ceased to remain relevant. as did AIM and countless other platforms over the subsequent 20 years.
all this to say, social media platforms are fleeting. the conversations on twitter about the imminent doom of twitter under its new ownership to be so meta, overdramatic, and quite unnecessary. this has happened before, and it will happen again. in the meantime, though, #academictwitter seems to be lighting their hair on fire, as they do. and #blacktwitter is minding its business and carrying on, as one does.
are we really leaving twitter? and to where?
i can’t begin to conceptualize the number of tweets i’ve seen about *serious* considerations to create whatever a mastadon account is. i saw this tweet by one of my favorite accounts, and it all became so clear.
It’s called Mastadon, T. It’s open source and part of the fediverse or something. Everyone keeps saying they’re gonna migrate over there but it’s really boring so they still keep their accounts here anyways. pic.twitter.com/ANtPcWC9sB
— socialist sopranos memes (@gabagoolmarx) November 7, 2022
first of all, has anyone considered what we did before twitter? talk IRL? or other (adjacent) alternatives like slack or discord? funny how little to no one is suggesting an exodus to (shudders) facebook.
all the chatter just seems premature. with a splash of virtue signaling. and at best, a waste of energy. as i’ve stated before, twitter is my favorite online place in the world. its done wonders for networking and democratizing academia. i’ve made good friends and colleagues through twitter. we’ve celebrated personal and professional victories, supported each other in defeats, and collectively reveled in joyous events. all on twitter.
i joined twitter in 2009, and i will be so sad if it goes. but i’m sure as hell not joining a mastadon or some other cheap replacement in hopes of achieving the same high.
tl;dr – so how does this relate to public scholarship?
going back to myspace. the biggest lesson i learned from that time was how finite the internet was. these online social spaces are for rent. this is something any good marketer worth their salt should remind you of. do not fully commit to building your brand somewhere you have no control of your content. if twitter dies tomorrow, all your brilliant tweets and connections are gone. the same goes for any other social media platform you’ve employed for academic and scholarship purposes. you can build a community on and through social media but also ensure you track your work, thoughts, and network offline or elsewhere (like a blog or podcast. carrier pigeons are always looking for work).
i will continue to promote social media as a gateway to public scholarship, but it is not the end all, be all. we should stop treating it as such.
there is nothing like twitter, and there never will be. enjoy it while you can. in the meantime, build your bridges offline and earmark your brilliant thoughts for another platform. hopefully, one you are more in control of.