It’s been quite a chaotic couple of weeks over at Twitter. Ever since Elon Musk purchased the company and started making big changes and breaking things, coverage of the company has been universally negative. This makes me sad, because Twitter is one of my favorite things about the modern Internet, imperfect though it may be. Keep reading for my thoughts on why I think Twitter is the last, best hope for social media, and what changes I’d like to see going forward.
8 Reasons Why I Love Twitter
I’m amazed whenever I see people act as if Twitter is the worst thing ever, literally a cancer on humanity that needs to go away immediately. In my opinion, these people are using Twitter the wrong way, perhaps following famous but nefarious accounts whose main goal is to manipulate their emotions and make them angry or not culling their follower list to keep out any users who bring them down.
I think Twitter is a fun way to interact with like-minded people. Some of the good things about the platform are:
- Several communities inside Twitter, such as anitwitter for anime, fintwitter for finance and investing and sports twitter for sports geeks, are very positive places to interact and share ideas. Everyone is kind and polite to each other.
- Pretty much every Japanese artist, voice actor or other creative professional is on Twitter. We can send them replies and sometimes get an answer back!
- Twitter is anonymous, which is a good thing for the kinds of casual interactions that take place on the platform. Some societies, such as Japan, have embraced the platform specifically because users can hide their real identities.
- Twitter is the perfect place to access information on current events, whether it’s something that happened in the stock market ten minutes ago or fun memes related to Japan’s upset victory against Germany in the World Cup. There’s nothing quite like it on the Internet.
- It’s the default place for government agencies or other vital institutions to communicate policies. I can’t even imagine how things must have been before Twitter.
- For adult businesses like J-List, JAST or J18 Publishing, Twitter is the only safe way to create a brand online. The excessive rules on Facebook/Instagram mean that any brand there could be removed anytime, eliminating years of hard work in a single stroke.
- Being a less restrictive place than Facebook/Instagram/YouTube, Twitter is the only part of the Internet where you can post anime boobs. In my humble opinion, if corporate policies become so puritanical that they’re indistinguishable from ultra-conservative countries like Saudi Arabia, things have gone way too far.
- Similarly, the looser restrictions on copyrighted material make it possible for me to post a short clip of a copyrighted anime song without getting in trouble. Since my goal is to promote amazing creative works of animation to as many fans as possible, I view this as a good thing for all involved, including the creators.
Why Do People Think Twitter is a Terrible Place?
Is Twitter perfect? Of course not. Anyone who’s been bullied or subject to campaigns of negativity by anonymous internet “hate bandwagons” will agree it can be awful at times. There are fake news accounts and bots and Russian provocateurs who are paid to spread discord on your Discord. These are very real problems that need thoughtful solutions.
I personally find that following zero accounts outside of my specific interests (anime and self-help) makes removes this negativity from my Twitter experience. If you’re experiencing bad feelings from Twitter, maybe there’s a way to tweak how you use it so it doesn’t bring you down.
Before he bought Twitter, Elon Musk bought J-List! For a day, at least. Read our post here.
The History of Social Media Before the Internet
I got my first computer in 1982, a shiny new Atari 400, which changed my life for the better. I taught myself BASIC programming, then 6502 Assembler, and started writing programs, one of which was purchased by an Atari magazine for $75. (Back before the days of CD-ROM distribution, programs would be printed in computer magazines, and users would spend hours typing them in to use them.) At the age of 14, I had a very specific goal: to one day own a software publishing company, which eventually came true, in an unexpected way, with JAST. Never give up on your dreams!
We even had social media back then, after a fashion. In the mid-1980s, local electronic bulletin board systems became popular, and users could create accounts and discuss whatever topics were popular…which for us back then meant anime. We would log onto BBSes — one user at a time, since the program was literally a computer connected to a single phone line with a modem — and post public messages discussing the latest episode of Robotech, or sharing fanfiction, or trading images in the then-brand-new GIF format, which was the first time images could be shared between different computing platforms. Being able to make friends through a computer was amazing, and eventually, we’d have offline meet-ups and make friends IRL.
When the Internet finally appeared, one of the most useful areas was Usenet. I have many fond memories of posting my opinions on the latest anime to rec.arts.anime. I also posted the newest list of music CDs and manga I had for sale, called “The Japan List,” for customers to browse and buy… and this was, in fact, the start of J-List!
Can Anything Replace Twitter?
I’ve been asked by a few users if I’d be closing the J-List Twitter account and moving to another platform. My answer is a resounding no: there’s currently nothing that can take Twitter’s place. Discord is fun but has a high learning curve, and the way communities are separated onto different servers is the opposite of the single massive “soup” of users that Twitter is. Mastodon has been floated as a possible Twitter replacement, but it’s built around thousands of decentralized servers, too, and isn’t a place where an artist or company can set up shop hoping to reach a wider audience. Many popular Mastadon servers are closed to new users, too.
So I think the best we can hope for is that Elon Musk does as little damage to Twitter as possible as he re-makes the company into a newer version of itself. The new Twitter will have less waste and more innovation, and probably less empathy than many of us would like. But it will still be a “town square” for us to gather in and shout out our message to anyone who wants to hear it.
So Elon…Please don’t mess up Twitter. Thanks!
Thanks for reading this blog post on why I love Twitter and hope it will continue to be important to all of us in the months and years going forward. Do you disagree with any of my points? Post your replies below, or reply to us on Twitter (naturally)!
The most important sale of the year is going on on J-List: our Cyber Sale. From now until next Monday, get 12% off from all in-stock Japan items, plus 12% off select J18 Publishing books and JAST games. Browse all our sale products here!