I probably will never return to Facebook, but I was trying Twitter out because I can follow anyone without having to be “friended” or followed back by them. This makes it a somewhat interesting venue. However, it’s become another censoring cesspool, just like Facebook. I followed a handful of spec fic authors I like, such as Brian Niemeier and Nick Cole, only to read that these two aforementioned authors had been shadow-banned. I went to Niemeier’s Twitter page to see that he had retweeted my tweet about his Dragon Award win (or liked it, don’t remember which), and had followed me back. I hadn’t received any notifications from him, nor had I seen any of his tweets in my feed. For the record, I don’t miss notifications because I don’t get very many. I don’t have enough followers, follow enough people, or really interact that much with other Twitter users to get more than a couple of notifications a day.
Today, when I saw one of Niemeier’s tweets retweeted (I’d never seen the original), I went to his Twitter page and retweeted the same tweet, calling out Twitter for their shadow-banning (shysta, that last sentence sounds ridiculous). After my tweet received more likes and retweets than almost any I’d posted, I had a strange progression of events: I was suddenly followed by a couple of Twitter marketers and then began to see Niemeier’s tweets in my feed. Does this give rise to all kind of conspiracy theories on my part? Sure, that there are people monkeying with Twitter, which isn’t exactly earth-shattering. And they’re no doubt monkeying to their own detriment, which is why they have to occasionally try to convince us we need them as a marketing tool.
Look, I’m at the point where social media is more than a little off-putting. Okay, it always was a little off-putting. But it’s even more so now. I don’t know if Niemeier was ever officially shadow-banned (Nick Cole, for his part, largely stopped using Twitter), or if Twitter is simply playing the compartmentalization game that I saw occurring on Facebook. Facebook keeps people in little boxes. I was in a box where I rarely even saw my own husband’s posts. My husband, in case you’re wondering, is an unapologetic conservative libertarian, just the kind of person the big Zucker hates.
I’m not declaring anything new or making shocking allegations the world isn’t aware of already. We already know the conversation is being controlled in social media. As someone who would still like to publish at least one more book and find new authors to read (where do you think I discovered both authors I mentioned in this piece?) or even new editing clients (I’m torn about that last one, but I MIGHT want to), I can’t completely tear myself away from social media. We’re living in a world that is no longer brave or new, and it’s tiring after a while. I’m not sure how much energy I have left for all of this nonsense any longer. There has got to be a better way, a Phoenix that rises from the ashes of the crapstically controlling internet spaces. A part of me doesn’t care, though, and would rather ride my bicycle around town and go to the library, where I’ll be lucky if I find new authors I want to read. And then the part that DOES care regains energy from the anger at not finding the books I desire.
Books=information and ideas. Even fiction offers information and ideas couched in story form. This is not the area where I should be dropping the ball and losing my will to care. But that doesn’t mean that I have to remain in the mire of Twitter, any more than I had to remain in Facebook land.