Meet my new ‘X’: How breaking up with Twitter filled me with hope
I’ll have my eyes and ears open to new, potentially better platforms, especially those in the incredibly energetic realm of decentralized social
Prostock-studio/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks
Relationships are never easy — and the roller-coaster presence of X (formally known as Twitter; we’ll get to that shortly) in our lives is a testament to that fact.
This app has become an integral part of our daily routines. Through thick and thin, from world-changing events like the 2008 financial crisis to Kanye’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift, Kate and William’s Royal wedding, and countless viral dramas, glow-ups and takedowns, Twitter (now X) has been a virtual cornerstone of our existence.
Throughout this nearly two-decade journey, we’ve come to accept Twitter’s imperfections (bots, scams, crypto bros) and its unique offers of value, which made it possible for anyone in the world to enter — and even help shape — an endless stream of conversations, moments, movements and even entire markets. Where would we be without Twitter? No matter what you think of that question, the answer is undoubtedly somewhere different.
So, just as one might feel after an unplanned breakup following a lengthy relationship, when we woke up one April morning to find Twitter has rebranded as simply “X,” it felt like a harsh and unexpected decision. How could a platform that companies and users invested in deeply rebrand overnight in such a seemingly cunning and clandestine manner?
While this rebrand was unexpected, it still happened after a year of Twitter that, under Elon Musk’s leadership, could be described as chaotic, confusing and frustrating. Lest we forget, Elon sprang Twitter Blue on the world earlier in the year and took away hundreds of thousands of “blue checks,” including from world leaders like Bill Gates, Pope Francis and Beyoncé.
But this change to X was still out of left field. The move felt different, like a well-calculated and stealthy maneuver that left many, myself included, disoriented and skeptical about the platform’s future and its ability to truly support and empower creators and communities — especially those in Web3.
We all can’t help but think, what’s next after X?
The future of social is decentralized
As a marketer in Web3, Twitter becoming X filled me with frustration, excitement and hope for something different; for something better. It made me dream about the mass adoption of social platforms that put people first, not the self-interests and bottom lines of CEOs who always seem to be outrunning their egos and quarterly earnings statements.
It made me ponder the value and unique benefits of social platforms that revolve around the core pillars of Web3: ownership, transparency, fairness, user-centricity, self-sovereignty and decentralization.
In Web3, such underhanded tactics as Twitter’s X-ification are simply impossible. Social handles, content, decision-making and governance belong (or are at the very least visible) to creators and communities. There’s no hiding what exists on-chain.
You might be wondering: Didn’t Elon just start pitching X as an (unabashedly ironic) would-be salvation for the crippling effect of the algorithm on today’s generation of content creators?
The aforementioned irony of this new ethos is obvious, considering that X started removing headlines from news links — an all-too-personal directive that stemmed from a young person’s pet (jet) project — the same week that Elon pledged value to creators.
And lest we forget, Elon is still banning journalists following last year’s endless drama over Hunter Biden’s laptop. So, one might wonder if X is an app that actually does want to support creators and the value they build through their content, ideas and communities.
Digital freedom is about having a choice and transparency into the future of your online self, which we all know has endless implications IRL. Regardless of whether Elon or X actually cares deeply about creators, it feels like they are the ones calling the shots and removing that choice.
Life — and social — after X
So, what does life after X look like? And why is it so important to ask this if you consider yourself a believer in Web3 — or even just a better future for ourselves and the internet — regardless of what number you put after it?
Whether you’re a creator, brand or just a regular internet-obsessed human being who spends too much time staring at your phone, community is everything. We don’t get far without like-minded people to rally around an idea, product or even a silly meme.
From a community perspective, the abrupt X-ification of Twitter negatively widens the gap between the people who rely on Twitter — and those on whom Twitter relies. In 2023, users of social applications want a voice and to feel like they’re part of a product’s direction, not sitting on the sidelines.
As X continues to throw curveballs and remain insensitive to transparency, they will risk losing the loyalty of those who have supported them since the beginning. The same goes for brands and entrepreneurs, who may reevaluate their use of X to reach their customers.
Read more from our opinion section: If we want crypto to succeed, we’ve got to give X the boot
To those people who are simply looking to have a safe, entertaining and valuable time across digital communities and endless feeds, I hope they will consider the value of the burgeoning decentralized social ecosystem and token-powered protocols.
In this brave new world of Web3, people feel confidence over having tangible ownership over their interoperable online identities, content and communities, so that no one can take them away (or reduce them to a single letter) overnight.
Long-term relationships are never easy, whether with a living human or a social media platform. And sometimes, even though you know the relationship has run its course, you stick around because it feels comfortable. Regarding my relationship with X, I’ll certainly have my eyes and ears open to new, potentially better platforms, especially those in the incredibly energetic realm of decentralized social. The only way to find out if there’s something better is to take that first step and go looking.
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