Time For a Change

Time For a Change
Photo by dole777 / Unsplash

I know it's gauche to announce your departure from social media platforms, but in the wake of Elon driving Twitter towards obsolescence, and with Meta attempting to cash in on the opportunity to monopolize the space via the introduction of Threads, I've decided now is the time to finally start pulling back from capitalist, private-owned social media platforms.

My accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will stay in place, however they will largely be inactive. Remaining on those platforms for the express purpose of creating a countermeasure against fraud/impersonation.

What I have done instead, is remove the apps for those platforms from my phone, iPad, and anywhere else I may have installed them. And while I certainly encourage you all to do the same, I would like to explain WHY I'm making this decision, and WHY it's incredibly important that others do the same.

Have you ever asked yourself WHY the world seems so polarized, why we all seem to be quarrelling with one another as much as we are, why we're all so completely depressed all the time? You know what's coming, you know I'm going to say it...

Social media. It's not the only reason, but I believe it to be a not-insignificant contributing factor. Not exactly a revolutionary thought, I know, but I figure I want to explain my position anyway.

When social media first started, there wasn't any thought given to how to monetize it. As years passed, and these platforms became companies, and those companies gained investors, and came to understand the power of the almighty algorithm, that all changed. These companies realized very quickly that they had the best damn marketing platform they could ever have hoped for, and they ran with it. The problem is, they aren't (just) trying to sell you a new phone, or a better TV, or a new car, not anymore...just trying to sell you those things would still be within the confines of traditional capitalism, but we're beyond all that now. Now, these companies have realized that one thing sells better than anything else: Human emotions. That's what they're in the business of selling you.

There's an old quote from Douglas Adams that I've always loved, and that I quote frequently: "Nothing travels faster than light, with the exception of bad news, which follows its own set of rules." It's well-established that bad news sells, we humans are drawn to it like moths to flame. But it's not the only thing. Sex sells too. So do pictures of babies, cats, dogs, or anything cute. The oldest tactic in advertising is to appeal to basic human emotions, it's almost entirely what the practice of advertising is based off of. And it follows that the more primal the emotion, the easier it is to sell to.

With that in mind, let's go back to Twitter and Meta for a moment: These platforms are presented to you, the user, for what seems to be free. There's no subscription, no upfront cost, in fact, there's no direct monetary cost at all. So while yes, these platforms started off by monetizing ads, like true capitalists, they realized that wasn't enough; they needed more, and they needed it faster. At some point, companies like Meta and Twitter realized that the best way to do that, was to get you to look at more content, to keep you on their platforms as long as possible, like a Vegas casino might. But where a casino weaponizes your own greed against you, capitalist social media platforms weaponize your avarice, your envy, your jealousy, and ultimately, your fear, to keep you engaged, and keep you scrolling endlessly.

None of this is revolutionary. We've heard all these talking points before, but here's the thing, up to this point, we've felt powerless to do anything about it. Whether we like it or not, social media is not going to go away, society has become dependent upon it. But what if there were an alternative?

Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, and his subsequent cartooonish bungling and flailing like the Swedish Chef chasing a chicken around his kitchen because it wouldn't go in the pot willingly, has created a power vacuum in the social media space that hasn't existed since the mid-to-late 2000s. We're seeing alternatives popping up that have either existed for a long time and are enjoying a moment in the sun (in the case of Mastodon), or new ones (such as BlueSky, Post, and others). Elon, whether he meant to (not likely) or not, has triggered a much needed sea change in the realm of social media. We're at a critical point in its history, and I'm not sure how many of us are aware of just how critical it is.

The vast majority of these new alternatives are open-source, community and/or nonprofit-supported, and oftentimes decentralized. There are still privately owned alternatives, such as Post and Cohost, but personally (and I know many others would agree), I believe the future (at least, the immediate future), lies with these decentralized, federated platforms (BlueSky, Mastodon, et al.). As such, we need to do what we can to support these platforms. Because the alternative is that we continue to allow opportunistic, amoral corporations to dictate to us what we see, what we hear, and how we discuss it.

With all this said, I WILL remain on a couple of traditional social media platforms, but I hope you will join me on what I believe to be the next stage in the evolution of social media. I will be discussing these new platforms on this site in the future, and will be posting links to those posts ON the platforms I'm talking about.

For now though, here is where you can find me:

BlueSky: https://bsky.app/profile/boxingoctopus.social
(If you need an invite, I've created a handy Google Form. Fill it out and I will ensure you get an invite ASAP, as the invites for BlueSky are handed out once every two weeks)

Mastodon: https://mastodon.social/@boxingoctopus

Post: https://post.news/@/boxingoctopus

PixelFed: https://pixelfed.social/boxingoctopus
(tl;dr: Pixelfed is an open, federated Instagram clone)