16 January, 2022

To Twitter, or not to Twitter, that is the question

There is no shortage of complaints about social media today. And Twitter, being one of the oldest and most prominent social media platforms, has been getting the lion's share of these complaints. However, to paraphrase the famous quote from Bjarne Stroustrup, "There are only two kinds of apps: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses." Yes, I've seen a lot of people criticizing Twitter for all its shortcomings and publicly announcing them leaving the platform. And yet, network effect is real and Twitter is still the king when it comes to access and reach.

I do have a Twitter account that I created over a decade ago, but I just never felt the need to really get into it. I've used Facebook, at least until recently, for my personal contacts. For news and blog articles, I've relied on RSS feeds via Feedly. And I just didn't have anything to sell or advertise that can really take advantage of Twitter's reach. Over the last few years, however, I came to discover something new: the Twittersphere for JavaScript and web developers.

If I'm only interested in following Twitter conversations as an outside observer, I don't really have to use my account. In fact, I already follow a few Twitter accounts by bookmarking them on my browsers and occasionally checking their feeds. However, it's slowly dawning on me that perhaps the real value is not really in keeping up with the latest, but in participation. And by participation I don't mean just the exchange of ideas and learning from one another but also the relationships that can be built through that process.

This realization was partly inspired by my wife's experience although her people are on Instagram, not Twitter. In addition to being a full-time Pilates instructor, she hosts and produces two moderately successful Podcasts on Pilates and is making connections with many interesting people in her field on Instagram. I can see that she is definitely part of a larger Pilates community, and despite the work and stress of maintaining her online presence, the whole Instagram thing for her has been net positive.

In contrast, I don't really feel like I'm part of anything professionally--the feeling that is somewhat reinforced by only having worked remotely as a web developer as well as being the sole frontend web develeper in my team. Of course, I am ultimately responsible for this feeling of isolation since I have never really been active in any communities in this field, online or otherwise. I do have some excuses--namely, I was just beginning my career as a web developer and as such, had little to contribute...

But maybe it's finally the time for me to get out and engage with my peers. To go beyond this humble blog. After all, I've now gained almost two years of experience working professionally in the field. I am still wary of appearing incompetent or simply wasting my time on Twitter. My thoughts and opinions may not be mature enough or worth others' audience. But maybe I can develop a perspective of my own via engaging with and being challenged by others. And maybe, just maybe, I can finally find myself in a thriving professional community!

So yes, I'm considering giving Twitter a try. And if this experiment fails, well, I can always join many others who've left the platform.😂