Late-Stage Capitalism and Social Media

As expected, Twitter’s new owner just cut the social media platform’s staff by thousands, a move that’s sure to prompt yet another round of users to close their profiles and go in search of greener social media pastures. The problem is, I’m not sure they exist. If they do, it won’t take capitalism long to ruin them, too.

I’m only on Twitter for the #WritingCommunity. As a platform, I’ve always kind of hated it, but there’s a niche group of authors there who have been part of my journey of growth as a writer. They contribute positively to my life, and I’m able to contribute positively to theirs, so I stay. They’re not the only ones, of course—I also belong to groups on Facebook and Discord, tried and failed to make a habit of connecting with fellow writers on Instagram, and have learned to avoid TikTok because it’s way too easy to waste time there.

Insta and TikTok are difficult to keep up with as content creators, as well. You can’t just word vomit and hit send like you can on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog. You have to take pictures or videos, edit them, figure out which hashtags to use, etc. It’s time-consuming and, as a writer with a full-time job and an exhausting new puppy, I barely have time to write as it is. A diverse social media portfolio is a nice-to-have for fiction writers, not an absolute must.

Thank goodness for that! As someone who tries to be a conscientious consumer, I dislike passively supporting people and things with ad revenue if I wouldn’t actively support them with direct payments. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast in social media. Sure, other options are out there—I keep hearing about Mastodon, and apparently Twitter’s billionaire founder (who continues to maintain an investment in Twitter) is currently working on a similar distributed protocol network called Bluesky. These kinds of social media networks are supposed to be harder for billionaires to snap up, but money finds a way.

Long story short, I don’t believe in a social media Shangri-la where trolls can’t thrive, money doesn’t talk, and I can feel 100% okay with participating. If you discover one, by all means, please fill me in . . . but such a place would, I think, be exclusive by definition, which defeats the purpose. If anyone ever does manage to create such a thing, it will only last as long as it remains a private company.

The main reason Elon Musk was able to buy Twitter is its status as a public company, which it will lose now. If any rando on eTrade can buy a company’s stock, there’s little to stop someone like Musk from buying the whole shebang, especially when he’s willing to pay far more than it’s actually worth according to its market valuation.

So, while I may create accounts at Mastodon and/or Bluesky, I’ll also be keeping my Twitter and Insta and Facebook profiles—rarely used though they may be—if only to point people here, to my blog, where they can always find me.