I’m going to start this article off saying that I’ve been stupid. My critics already know this, and probably have 30 reasons to give, but I appreciate that. Critics keep you on your toes and point out problems nice people won’t. One of the 30+ reasons is that I’ve had an irrational hope that Twitter would work out under the ownership of Elon Musk. When it comes to deciding whether that’s dumb, this is probably something that even good friends would agree with the critics on.
Instead of packing up and leaving like many sane people did last year, I wanted to give Elon Musk a chance and see how it went. I figured out how to get a lot of the crazy stuff off my screen, largely by muting or blocking the biggest purveyors of braindead culture war nonsense. Then, I built a number of lists with good people to get good information and news from. Then, I worked harder on putting better content on the site, focusing on EVs and cleantech more, and trying to build more of a following.
Sure, Twitter/X is a dumpster fire of disinformation, political nonsense from both sides, and cheap tribal thrills. But, if you can mostly avoid the nonsense, what’s left is still pretty good. There are lots of good EV and cleantech fanatics and industry experts sharing information and helping to move the energy transition forward.
Where Twitter really started to go south, at least for me, was when the revenue sharing program came out and then expanded. Many insightful people switched from trying to network to trying to get impressions and ad revenue. It didn’t take long for many people to figure out that content that appeals to the lower brain (aka the limbic system, or the “lizard brain”) gets a lot more attention. In other words, deep analysis of public policy, technology, and history gets some attention, but content that gets people upset and emotional gets most of the attention.
Sadly, I did succumb to that temptation. To boost my views and maybe become eligible for revenue sharing, I would make replies to less intellectual and deep posts, try to entertain people with fun memes, and such. I tried to avoid the most toxic stuff as much as possible, but figured some harmless fun and “shitposting” could be a good way to get over the top without getting too deep into the muck.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t a “shitpost” that ended my time on Twitter/X. During a discussion about the UAW strike, I compared what was going on to warfare, using similar thoughts to those expressed in this article. Seconds after making that comparison, things went haywire. Nothing would load, my followers and followed both showed zero, and everything was jammed up. So, I killed the app, checked my internet connection, and reloaded it. That’s when I found out I was suspended for “violent speech.”
I, of course, appealed the decision, but was told several times that the suspension was permanent and that they wouldn’t be restoring my access. A human supposedly reviewed the decision and it’s final. So much for free speech.
Why I’m Not Going Back, Even If They Fix It
In short, I’m not sinking any more time into something that can go away so fast for no valid reason. It takes a lot of effort to build up a following, network with people, and develop content for a growing crowd. There’s a lot of trial and error, thinking, and time that goes into what I’ve done on there so far, and I want to benefit from my spent time, not lose it for nothing.
I’m honestly unsure what led to my account getting Musked. I don’t know if my past criticism of the guy has anything to do with this, but even if I give the Twitter/X team the benefit of the doubt on that (and they’re not watching critics and waiting for an excuse to kick them off), then the only remaining explanation is incompetence. Cutting 75% of Twitter’s staff seems to mean that fewer decisions can be reviewed by a person, and the people doing the review probably don’t have much time to check context.
I see a lot of people relying on the site now for their professional life, their connections, and even income. The largest accounts are making a decent income from the ad impressions. But, there doesn’t seem to be anything between them and an unfair account suspension that could put them back working McDonald’s.
The CleanTech Community Needs To Get More Eggs Out Of Elon’s Unsteady Basket
Whether this is a form of censorship or a form of incompetence (or some mix of the two), it’s pretty clear to me that Twiter/X isn’t a good place to put anything important. This could change, but that’s my present opinion and it would take some serious change at the website to convince me otherwise.
If the goal is to shitpost and toe the Elon Musk line, then it doesn’t matter how reliable or consistent Twitter/X is. Tesla is a very well-established automaker and its other cleantech efforts are likewise solid. Regardless of how the Tesla fan and investor community can communicate and influence people on Twitter, the company will be fine.
But, the rest of the EV and cleantech industries are in a much more precarious place. Charging infrastructure problems, union labor problems, political issues, and increasing opposition to EV mandates are all challenges that the rest of the industry will have a harder time dealing with. It’s going to take an “all hands on deck” approach to help the wider industry get through this. Outside of the major EV publications and EV-supportive automotive publications, there’s a vast network of fans, industry players, and experts who will all need to coordinate to make it happen.
Instead of relying on Twitter to coordinate this effort, we need to distribute this important coordination task between many different websites, social media networks, and other communication channels. There should be backups for every important group of people who communicate, and the backup should probably not rely on a major corporation that can be swayed or bullied into working against any part of the cleantech industry.
Let’s Stay In Touch!
If you’re primarily following CleanTechnica on Twitter/X, or if you’ve personally been following me on Twitter, let’s all be sure we stay in touch no matter what happens.
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If you followed me on Twitter before I got Musked, and you aren’t happy that I’m gone from there, be sure to follow me other ways. Here’s a link to my LinkTree, where you can find links to other social networks I’m posting on. I’m going to continue posting articles at CleanTechnica, so subscribing using one of the links in the last paragraph is a great idea. Sometime in the next few weeks, I’m going to launch my own website that focuses on cleantech and outdoors topics that are outside of CleanTechnica’s normal scope, as well as links to articles here. Follow me at one of the LinkTree links to get the address to that when it’s ready.
Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.
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