Vichy Twitter

Vichy France was the name for the French government following the country’s defeat by Nazi Germany in World War 2. It wasn’t technically part of Germany, but it worked in cooperation with Germany and, while still calling itself “France,” everyone knew as long as the Nazis were around, France was dead.

I only mention this little history lesson because I was reading a post on Kottke’s site about the latest boneheaded move to destroy Twitter’s cultural relevancy by the authoritarian who controls it where someone called the platform “Vichy Twitter” and…that’s kind of brilliant.

From the Vichy France Wikipedia article:

“At Vichy, Pétain established an authoritarian government that reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy. Conservative Catholics became prominent, and Paris lost its avant-garde status in European art and culture. The media were tightly controlled and promoted anti-Semitism…”

The comparison is remarkably apt, actually.

✓ Authoritarian rule
✓ Erosion of small-L liberal norms
✓ Infiltration of actual Nazis
✓ Decreasing cultural relevancy
✓ Unchecked anti-Semitism along with other forms of hate speech

My usual routine, upon waking, has been for some time to check my OG muggle Twitter first thing to catch up on what happened in the world while I was sleeping. Back in the pre-Vichy Twitter days, I would rarely be able to read all the tweets that were posted during that time. Now I can do it in a few minutes. Not as many people I followed are still on Twitter and those who are are using it less.

Note, the way I use Twitter isn’t how Elon would like me to use Twitter. I’ve always had curated lists of accounts that display reverse chronologically and only include the tweets and retweets they make (and no ads!). The “For You” tab is an absolute cesspool of garbage that should be called “From Elon” as it often includes his tweets, his comments to tweets, his retweets, and the ravings of various and sundry right-wing asshats who feel empowered to have an easily manipulated, emotionally infantile manbaby running the platform.

I’ve started to rebuild a list of great follows on Mastodon using one of two terrific new iOS apps, Ivory and Ice Cubes. I was going back and forth because they’re both great, but have settled on Ice Cubes at the moment mostly because it has the best implementation of quote posting (quote tweet in Twitter parlance) of any other app I’ve used. For reasons passing comprehension by me, Mastodon does not support quote posts (not a debate to get into with early Mastodon adopters, btw) so it’s up to developers to find a way to provide this basic functionality. This seems fitting since things like retweets, quote tweets, and even the word “tweet” all came from developers and the user community, not Twitter.

Anyway, for the first time last week, Screen Time reported I spent more time in a Mastodon client than in Twitter. Seeing as Twitter has been my most-used app for a long, long time (especially since I ditched Facebook), this is kind of big deal.

Of course, that’s all muggle stuff. On the kinky-sexy side, things have not progressed.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone in the community I’ve developed with my Thumper Twitter account seem to have made the jump to Mastodon. A common refrain is that Mastodon is too complicated and I will acknowledge that it isn’t as straightforward as signing up for and using Twitter, but it’s not like trying to run DOS after spending one’s life on a Mac. This is a great intro to the service that should help dispel the perception of complexity.

As I said above, the biggest improvement to my enjoyment of the platform has been the introduction of great apps to use it. Those I was using before were…weird. Or buggy. Or both. Ice Cubes is fantastic and being actively developed and doesn’t cost a thing (though the developer will happily take a tip). Ivory (made by the folks who brought us my beloved Tweetbot) is lovely but does have a modest subscription fee.

I don’t mean to shame anyone still using Twitter. I expect it will take a long time for me to stop entirely, but it’s weird to me how much more traction the non-kinky side has seen there than the kinky side. Partly, this is the network effect in action. There’s still several muggles on Twitter that aren’t on Mastodon (or who are but aren’t using it) but there are many fewer, as a percentage, of kinksters I follow and (used to) engage with on Twitter who have made the leap. This bums me out because I simply can’t bring myself to meaningfully use Twitter anymore, even if I am losing a lot of community value.

Weirdly, the number of people following me has continued to grow though I post nearly nothing of interest anymore. Not sure what’s up with that.

I think the thing that really holds me back from being on Twitter more is that, being in the line of work I’m in, I know how much the people who own these platforms value and crave the stats I (and probably you) generate being there. Time on site, likes, comments, retweets, ads viewed and (accidentally) clicked on, links posted, etc. This is their lifeblood and the only thing they care about because it’s what leads to the ad dollars they can charge. The less we use Twitter, the more we communicate our displeasure with how it’s being run. It’s literally the only thing we can do now that it’s owned by a megalomaniac. Individually, it’s a tiny, tiny act of rebellion, but done alongside millions of others, it will move the needle.

One positive side effect of being less engaged on Twitter is I’m posting here more. Between 2018 and 2022, I wrote an average of 24 posts a year (with 21 being the lowest and 28 being the highest). So far in 2023, this will be my 8th. I assume the energy I’d typically use on Twitter is being redirected here. I still do have things to say, after all, even if I’m saying them with many more words and without as much interaction. Interestingly, traffic to the site doesn’t seem to be impacted at all from not posting links on Twitter. I would have expected to take a hit there, but you can’t really tell by looking at the stats when I stopped.

So, yeah. I dunno. It sucks to have lost what I once had on that platform. But I don’t really know that I have any choice in the matter.

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