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“Who Am I Off Twitter?”: Exploring Self in a New Online Age of Decentralization

I think it’s safe to say that Twitter was the most important online forum of the last fourteen years. Twitter succeeded at centralizing online communities in one common forum. You have to have a Twitter if you want to be online and be found.

That’s been a good thing in a lot of ways. Twitter’s been a huge boon to communities looking for each other. Personally, I found furries, comics fans and X-Perts, writers and comedians, queer and fat activists, legal professionals, all of whom added value to my life. I needed to find them, and I did.

Twitter’s been great for creators, too. Some good friends of mine have developed fan communities in the tens of thousands, who help pay their bills every month. Where else can a shitposter do that?

But as I write this, Elon Musk’s purchase of the website has gone through, and some of his policies are going into effect. You’ll have to buy verification to avoid your tweets being suppressed, if things actually go through. This signals a new age for Twitter.

Personally, I think it signals the end of centralization, at least for now. Twitter as it has existed is not likely to continue indefinitely. People are already starting to spread out their online presence to other forums, just in case, and I think that’ll continue for the foreseeable future.

The splintering of online communities will have an apocalyptic effect on creators trying to make a living. Instead of having one central space to market their wares and build audiences, they’ll have to divide their time among multiple different forums, just to keep up.

There is one positive angle, though: people won’t have to flatten their personalities to one dimension to maximize their appearance in an algorithm. In a single centralized forum, people can’t code-switch or explore multiple sides of their identities if they want to be found.

Me, I write worksafe and non-worksafe material. I draw general-audiences cartoons and explore more sexual and adult themes as well. I build model kits, I play music, I get political, I get up in arms about social injustices… I do a lot of stuff. I can’t do it all in one place. I certainly can’t explore NSFW subjects in every forum, nor should I.

If there’s one positive thing about diversifying my online presence, and moving away from solely relying on Twitter, it’ll be that I get to show my whole self online.

And that goes for you too—this is an opportunity to showcase more of yourself than a single forum’s algorithm would have allowed. Try something new.

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