Between thousands of sudden layoffs and terminations, advertisers fleeing the platform, and subscription services to obtain the once-coveted verification checkmark, it would be an understatement to state that Twitter’s new regime is off to a rocky start.
Before the knee-jerk business decisions began raining down, the threat of unrestricted free speech sparked large swaths of its user base to consider alternatives. In these early days, the front-running platform many are taking refuge in is Mastodon, an open-source and decentralized platform that, in many ways, resembles the Big Blue Bird.
However, to many it’s quickly become apparent that migrating to Mastodon isn’t so easy. Social media users suddenly find themselves between a rock and a hard place; feeling a desire to flee a platform amid safety and privacy concerns, and the perceived newcomer that isn’t quite the town square savior that the masses want.
Filtering the situation down to the tabletop sphere, we’re asking the question:
Is there a Twitter exodus underway?
Weeks before the prospective migration to Mastodon began in earnest, one of our industry’s most influential voices, Jamey Stegmaier, made the choice to deactivate his Twitter account. Did the impending guard-change inspire this decision? Or perhaps the toxic discourse that many were expecting to spike in the coming weeks and months?
As it turns out, none of the above, as Jamey explains in a recent blog post. The brain behind Stonemaier Games states that it wasn’t “about Elon Musk or the general state of social media or Twitter itself. It also really isn’t about other Twitter users. It’s about me: I realized that I’m not my best self on Twitter. So I quit.”
While Mr. Stegmaier has chosen to leave Twitter entirely, others are taking the opportunity to celebrate all the good that Twitter has brought them, in spite of its glaring flaws. Many have built meaningful communities that exist only in the land of the blue bird, and the thought of losing those connections can be quite painful to consider.
Take, for instance, Suzanne of the Salt & Sass gaming podcast:
Clearly, it’s easy to dismiss the darker corners of Twitter, but that does not account for the many lovely landscapes that have been cultivated over many years. Flushing all of that away is not an easy choice, especially when the alternatives are new and untested by a mass audience.
Speaking of testing the platform, the process of moving over to Mastodon is not a simple process. Many servers are organized by interests and activities, much like our beloved tabletop industry, and some of those servers require an invite. And with a user base that has grown by more than 650% in recent weeks, many of those invites are currently on hold. Fortunately, we have helpful folks like T. Caires from Hachette Boardgames offering helpful insight into the journey:
Despite the guardrails available, it’s not a straight-forward journey, and for many it’s easier to stay put than make a change. Rodney Smith (the one who puts the “Prince” in Prince Edward Island) sums up the sentiments quite well:
The decision on how to proceed isn’t obvious, and for many it’s deeply personal. So many questions are swirling. Is it safe to stay on Twitter? Is it ethical to stay? What’s the harm in trying out Mastodon? Who’s got time to learn how to Mastodon?!
In the midst of this evolving situation, our take is that despite all of the doom and gloom discussion, Twitter is not going anywhere. Many are deeply invested in keeping the social media giant a safe place to connect. Many others have, and will, continue to seek out a new beginning on emerging platforms. Others will walk away from the Twitterverse entirely, and hopefully use that time to play more board games. At this moment, however, the vast majority of Board Gaming Blue Birders are staying put, even if it’s with one eye on the emergency exit.
If you choose to remain on Twitter, our suggestion is to take precautions. Even before Twitter’s musky era began, making use of the platform’s many safety levers was critical to creating a safe digital space, and most of those mechanisms remain unchanged. Secure your account with two-factor authentication, create strong passwords and change them regularly. Utilize lists and Twitter Circle. Mute conversations, keywords and hashtags. Block users that do not add value to your social media experience.
Have you made your own plans for microblogging as we look ahead to 2023? Whether it’s a Tweet, a (now-retired, sadly) Toot, or the sweet sound of silence, what factors are influencing your decisions on where to engage with a social media platform? The factors to consider are seemingly endless, but it’s a worthwhile endeavour to evaluate not just where you are invested, but also why!