Bye-Bye, Birdie?

Not if I have anything to say about it.

Bye-Bye, Birdie?

After eight years on Twitter, I was thisclose to gaining 1,000 followers when Elon Musk got caught in his own hubris and was forced to acquire the social media platform.

As an adoptee, I am used to compartmentalizing myself. On social media, Twitter is my id, Facebook my ego, and Instagram my superego (further compartmentalized into two, my private superego and my public one).

Personally, I would rather lose Facebook than Twitter. Twitter has all the community of Facebook with none of the social obligations. Facebook is a mutual agreement between “friends,” whereas Twitter can be a one-way street of voyeurism.

Twitter is a space that’s not inhabited by my adoptive or genetic relatives, where I am free of the encumbrances of familial obligation and can speak my truth without fear of offending a loved one. There, I have found like-minded adoptees from around the world, am kept informed of legal cases and other initiatives in the furtherance of adoptee rights, can discover valuable resources, and am alerted to adoption-related books. I’ve formed relationships that have slipped the surly bonds of the virtual world and flourished in real life.

Primarily text-based, Twitter attracts people who like to use their words to give unsolicited opinions on the latest trending topics. It’s an arena for hot takes, showboating, lofty pronouncements, humble-bragging, shameless self-promotion, naming and shaming, heavy sarcasm, and unhinged rants. It’s also a place where the marginalized can find a voice, the diaspora can find a community, and the underdog can have her say.

As a downlist writer, I go to Twitter to find out about submission opportunities, industry news, book events, streamed author panels, writing resources, forthcoming publications, and more. I get the gossip, the gripes, the grievances, the confessions, and the accusations. More significantly, I get the commiseration and the camaraderie, as well as the occasional validation.

An outsider member of the Asian diaspora, I follow Asian voices to connect more closely to a community from which I was separated as a transracial adoptee. 

As someone who understands that the accepted narrative very often serves the interest of those in power, I embrace the open forum Twitter provides. Recently, people depicted in a book I reviewed took to Twitter to refute my analysis; I’m glad the forum exists where they could add their voices to the conversation.

Immediately upon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, users started fleeing. I decided to stay because in this end-stage of capitalism, corporations may be people, but they are never your friend. The whole premise of capitalism is to acquire power over others through the accumulation of wealth. I buy gasoline despite the climate-change denialism of fossil fuel companies and the immense damage wrought to the planet. I eat red meat despite documented inhumane treatment of animals. I use PayPal, which is owned by an ultra-conservative billionaire who pours money into supporting political candidates who want to return America to the 1950s.

And now, I continue to stay on a social media platform after it was bought by a sociopathic, narcissistic, apartheid-era Afrikaner.

I don’t pay to be on Twitter, and I endeavor to update my settings to protect my data as much as possible. But as someone who has gladly given her DNA to various for-profit companies in exchange for precious genetic information, I know that life under capitalism is a series of Faustian bargains.

In exchange for surrendering my DNA to multiple “consumer genomics” corporations, I was able to find birth family and have questions about my heritage answered. I deeply regret that business has a stranglehold over science but will not deprive myself of answers to vital life questions when the technology exists to find them.

(I do boycott some companies: I never, ever use Amazon, so sorry/not sorry, but I can’t review your book there.)

Being on Twitter right now is like being at the Rapture just before the bodies start floating up to heaven. People are saying fond farewells and heartfelt thank-yous, scrambling to connect on other platforms, making confessions, spilling secrets, and engaging in last-ditch efforts to promote their upcoming endeavors.

The layoffs and chaos at Twitter are being live-tweeted so everyone can follow along as the platform is dismantled. Some predict Twitter will be gone by the time this piece is published; others are sure that it will survive just as AOL and Myspace have.

Unless my feed becomes swamped with Musk tweets, dick pics, and conspiracy theorists, I’m sticking with Twitter. But just in case, you can find my superego on Instagram at @AliceStephensBooks.

[Editor’s note: We’re not leaving Twitter, either.]

 Alice Stephens is the author of the novel Famous Adopted People, co-founder of the Adoptee Literary Festival, and a book reviewer.

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