Twitter is a nightmare, but as someone who has called the platform home for over a decade, it was also a formative part of my online identity. As a teenager I found my feet on Bebo and Facebook, given I was a little too young for MySpace when it first came around. Twitter was where I met friends who shared similar hobbies, became an embarrassing weeb, and formed a perception of myself that I’d continue to shape for years to come.
I first joined Twitter in 2010 out of curiosity. Still in secondary school, I let my profile linger for a couple of years until I jumped aboard the wagon and never looked back. Friends I made in the anime and video game community back then are still parts of my life today. What began as random threads talking about Sword Art Online and Yakuza turned into us travelling the world together and growing as people thanks to how this social media platform allowed us to interact and establish such bonds. There was plenty of toxicity, and a dependence on its interactivity is far from a good thing, but I was hooked.
Without it, I likely wouldn’t be in my current professional position. In my first year of university I replied to a random tweet that earned me my first job as a news writer. From here I worked up the chain and eventually earned a full-time position, then Games Editor, and somehow I ended up at TheGamer writing about hot takes and gay cartoons as Lead Features Editor. Many of the peers I came to befriend in this industry I first met on Twitter, brief interactions eventually turning into deep friendships that I still value today. None of this would have been possible without the method of communication afforded by Twitter, even if we were all stuck in the same echochamber.
Passionate debate, rampant discussion, scalding hot gossip, and countless controversies have played out over the years on this website, some which have stayed with us and others which have blown over in a matter of weeks, if not days. There is always a hot topic to touch upon, and a few years ago I stopped checking my timeline because the exhaustion of keeping up with every bit of mud slinging just wasn’t worth it anymore. But I kept in touch with those that mattered to me, and I owe Twitter so much for establishing that foundation in its early years before it all fell apart.
Outside my job I formed romances, went through break-ups, and learned so much about myself through direct messages and building Twitter connections, even if they’d quickly move away from the platform that helped spawn them in the first place. It helped give me confidence, and still does, even if in equal measure it is always willing to take it all away.
Twitter is also where I became a political activist, like a switch was turned on in my head during the 2014 general election as I came to realise what had to be done in order to stand up for the people who needed it. Misformation is still very rampant in the Musk era, but it remains a town square for debate, spreading info on core issues, and a place for counter culture to take root and become something more. The users make it all possible, Twitter is merely a tool for that potential to be realised. It made things better, made them worse, and brought us to where we are today. Now we see Musk burning it all down because he can’t take a joke.
You could call Twitter a cauldron for toxic arguments and consider its eventual demise a positive, but that perspective ignores the bigger picture. I know so many friends – artists, writers, and those in fandoms specifically – who have built a big part of their lives on this platform, and must now find a new home in fear of it all being taken away. Marginalised communities of queer people, people of colour, and others who don’t have a place in the real world to call their own also made websites like Twitter and Tumblr relative safe havens, and now that is being ripped away with little recourse. It sucks, and while the end result could be for the better when all is said and done, I’m going to miss everything it meant to me.
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