The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The weird, fragmented world of social media after Twitter

By Helen Lewis

30 Jul 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. The Atlantic's Helen Lewis argues that Elon Musk's actions at Twitter have irreparably fractured the service, leading to a post-Twitter era. Different user groups are migrating to various platforms, such as Bluesky, TikTok, Facebook, Post, Mastodon, Instagram's Threads app, and LinkedIn.

You need to know only two things about Bluesky. The first is that its users are trying to make the word skeeting happen, although it’s an even worse alternative to tweeting than Mastodon’s tooting. The second is that it operates at a high emotional pitch at all times. Whereas scrolling Twitter’s “For You” tab is now like bobbing for apples in a bowl full of amateur race scientists and Roman-statue avatars lamenting that we no longer build cathedrals, the Bluesky equivalent features discussions of whether sending death threats to the site’s developers is acceptable if they really, really deserve it.

As far as I can tell, Bluesky is siphoning off both Twitter’s most emotionally dysregulated users and its most committed shitposters. I dare not post there—my account was briefly the most blocked on the app, according to a tracking service—but it’s nice to see that a small, tight-knit, and politically distinctive community has formed, albeit around shared interests that include hating me. Although it is a mere fraction of the size of the big social networks, Bluesky appears to have hit the critical mass needed to sustain itself, suggesting that Elon Musk’s actions at Twitter have irreparably fractured the service. We are now living in the post-Twitter era, literally and metaphorically. After Musk’s rebrand, X marks the spot where a large number of people no longer want to be.

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