When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one group of digital communicators to discontinue use of the secure user IDs and passwords which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the the right and responsibility to affiliate with others who are kind and strive to not speak or act in ways that are ugly, racist or misogynistic, a decent respect to the opinions of humanity requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
This, then, is my “Dear John Letter” to you, Twitter.
Oh, how I have loved thee, since I first set up my first account in the summer of 2007 at NECC, to today, at the dawn of the Thanksgiving holidays in November 2023.
Oh, how I have loved thee, EduTwitter: You motley band of educational technology early adopters and pioneers, generously sharing so many ideas and links and words of encouragement throughout the years. I owe much of my transformative digital education to you.
Pre-Elon Twitter: You were the digital network that connected my blog to the wider world. You escorted me into the K-12 Online Conference, an amazing gathering of innovative educators, sharing ideas in a free, annual conference for over a decade. Twitter was one of our most important tools, along with hashtags, to amplify and aggregate the conversations in our creative communities.
As I read and heard the stories of trolls and online harassment on Twitter in the past decade, I wondered what parallel universe these authors were discussing? That was not my EduTwitter! Those were not MY experiences! Yet it became impossible to ignore the horrific and terrible experiences of others on the platform. This was true especially after Elon fired so many Twitter employees focused on thoughtful and deliberate content moderation, re-platformed racist and misogynistic voices, and, in the name of “elevating free speech,” removed the vital guard rails which kept much of the evil darkness at bay in the digital halls planetary communication.
It has become untenable and impossible for me to remain a contributing voice in this former bird-site dumpster fire of pollution and poison.
And so, dear reader, I invite you to “Meet me on Mastodon.”
It’s true, you can also still meet me in many other online spaces. I’m still on my blog and on a collection of regular and intermittent podcasts. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads, Blue Sky, TikTok, and YouTube. All these links are available on wesfryer.com/after/.
But I am finished with thee, Twitter. Today I am posting this, my “Dear John Letter,” on all the channels I have ever created on you. This is the end of my communication on your platform.
Having contemplated this decision for many months, now, you might be wondering what finally push me over the edge to leave my approximately 40,000 Twitter followers behind? What was the tipping point?
It was the three things:
1- Elon‘s clear and unrepentant anti-Semitic post last week, documented in this Washington Post article:
“Antisemitism was rising online. Then Elon Musk’s X supercharged it.“ by #WashingtonPost
2- The decision of Apple Computer, formerly Twitter‘s largest advertiser at over $50 million per month, to discontinue all advertising on the platform.
3- These persuasive words by Casey Newton, a journalist and podcaster I deeply respect, speaking truth to thousands of users and former users of the Bird Site:
“It’s the only way I know how to send the message that no one should be there (On Twitter / X), that this is not a place where you should be going to get news or to discuss news or to have a good time,” he (Casey Newton) told The Post. “It is just over. If you wouldn’t join Gab, or Parler, or Truth Social, there’s no reason you should be on X. I think it’s time for journalists and publishers, in particular, to acknowledge the new reality and to get the heck off that website.”
Dwoskin, Elizabeth, et al. “Antisemitism Was Rising Online. Then Elon Musk’s X Supercharged It.” Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2023. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/11/19/antisemiticism-internet-elon-musk-israel-war/.
Farewell, Twitter. Farewell “X.” I love the conversations you empowered and enabled me to have over the years as EduTwitter and our beloved Birdsite. I will miss your format, the opportunity to directly interact with journalists and authors, and especially the lists which I built on you for countless hours over the past decade.
But now, I turn to invest my digital time elsewhere. Especially on Mastodon. An open source, federated platform, like email, defined by technology standards, and not controlled by a single technology company. Twitter like, but thankfully without the overpowering influence of a racist, misogynistic, and deeply disturbed human owner, with whom I do not care to ever directly associate.
Come and gather, my friends and co-learners, let us meet on Mastodon!
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