I have been absent from a lot of social media platforms for a while now, and recently made an effort to re-appear. As we all know, things have changed quite a bit over the last few years.
The Elephant in the Room
I joined X (formerly Twitter) as @runbikecode somewhere around 2010 or 2011 with the intent to use it for sharing, among others, this blog. I had been on X with my “private” account for a while already. Back then, there was Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Strava, if you consider it a social media platform. All of them had a distinct purpose: Twitter was a “microblogging” service, Instagram for sharing pictures, Facebook for connecting with friends, and Strava for sharing workouts.
Fast-forward to around 2020, and the landscape had changed a lot. Instagram evolved into a mix of SnapChat and TikTok, with less emphasis on actual pictures. Facebook was a hot mess of Ads, dad jokes, and the occasional interesting post by a former schoolmate. Strava stayed Strava, for the most part (granted, as of this writing, it added messaging, make of that what you want). And Twitter? Well, Twitter became a very toxic place, and regardless how aggressively I trimmed my following, some nasty retweets always seemed to show up in my timeline. I deleted the app from my phone in Spring 2020, occasionally checking the feed in the web browser and using it less and less.
When Twitter was bought by Elon Musk and subsequently renamed to X, I left the platform for good, deleting my account and not looking back. Sadly, there were many remote people, lest I call them friends, that I had enjoyed following over the years. Lost connections…
Over the past 10+ years, I had periods where I spent a lot of time on Instagram, trying to get to a decent follower number. When Stories and Reels took over, I noticed I’d be the perfect victim, spending hours scrolling through random Reels. Essentially, I’ve stopped “producing” content (I actually never managed to do more than post the occasional snapshot from my training runs or rides), and turned into a consumer. At the end of 2020, I decided that enough is enough and deleted the app from my phone and only occasionally checked my feed on the web browser. This meant even less interaction with people I followed, and also even less posts created by me. Turns out, though, my followers on IG are mostly either read-only users or nominal members — my follower count did not decrease significantly.
When it became apparent that Elon mostly killed X, quite a few people made their way to Mastodon. I liked the concept but never made the jump, mostly because at the time I really tried to cut down on my social network time (see above). Recently, I finally signed up for Mastodon, and it felt like being late to a party (albeit not a great one). A few recognisable names from early Twitter days, a few dead accounts (name grab, I guess), but most notably, all more or less tech-savvy people. The regular social networking users are hardly to be found on Mastodon. I’m speculating that they are:
- Not yet fed up with Elon’s X
- Lazy or not using any social network platforms at all anymore
- Not tech-savvy enough. The thing is, Twitter back in the day made it effortless to join, and the (as small as it might be) friction to joining Mastodon might be too much for them.
In a nutshell, Mastodon feels to me as Twitter did in the early days before it took off and pulled in everybody, regular people and brands alike. For better or worse, there are hardly any brands on Mastodon…
To Thread or Not to Thread
Enter Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram. When Elon bought Twitter, they saw a chance to replace it with a new version of the same concept and called it Threads. Threads was launched in August 2023, and the suspense for us in Europe was big because we didn’t get access to Threads until January 2024. Thing is, though, Threads also doesn’t replace X. It doesn’t have the same user attraction, people are unsure what to use it for. I see many desperate follow-for-follow requests, people crossposting their Instagram pictures to Threads and their Threads to their stories, but hardly anyone ever produces interesting threads (ha!). Of course, Meta made it easy to gain traction by offering to follow everyone you follow on Instagram and many people use that option when they join, but then remain silent on the platform. Compared to the exciting exchanges I had on X (formerly known as Twitter), this is just lame.
State of the Union
So, where does that leave me? As illustrated by all the links above, I am currently on Mastodon, Threads, Instagram, and of course on Strava. In order of “most useful social interaction” I would rate them as:
- Instagram (despite all the Ads and Influencers)
- Mastodon (mostly to satisfy my inner geek)
My prediction for the future:
- X will not die, despite Elon’s best efforts to kill it. But it will also be a weird mix of right wing, toxic postings mixed with brands which haven’t pulled the plug yet, and plenty of dead accounts.
- No other platform will ever reach the status of X (formerly Twitter), where the evening news will quote something someone said on that platform. The market is split up into too many platforms, all trying to be a replacement and failing at that.
I’m open to giving them all a try for a while, but reserve the right to delete any of the above list at any time.
I’m curious though, are you still on X? Are you on any of the other platforms? I’d love to hear from you, either here or there, follow along!