there are pluses, naturally. Even my cold academic heart can’t deny the blissful relief of my trans sisters and brothers who have made it to Bluesky’s open beta and express great satisfaction at how good the environment is there. How could it not be, when a recent post of an MMA fighter musing publicly about publicly lynching any cis person who helps trans people was greeted by dozens of musky blue checks who enthusiastically agreed—saying the idea was “standing”? Anything is better than the indignity of laying eyes on such a bloodthirsty cage for even a few seconds.
But I remember a lot of people said the same thing about Post, Hive, and Mastodon several months ago, myself included. Watching the war between servers destroy an entirely new example of Mastodon populated primarily by trans women was a sobering reminder of how dangerous it can be to think honeymoons last forever – or that the safety of marginalized people is a simple matter of operation. Perhaps fragmentation will isolate that toxicity to each of its layers of hell in the form of separate servers, preventing some measure of proliferation, but it will still be there – as Mastodon has dramatically demonstrated with its rampant hostility to its black users.
The aims of Bluesky’s owners are truly noble, and even dovetail with some of my own desires for social media — to dismantle it, individualize it, and make it more resilient against meddling by states or malign rich people like Elon Musk. But it may not be compatible with the defining dream of many of these dirty posters; Especially the Muhamasheen. If Bluesky makes good on its promises, the various right-wing “culture warriors” and other crypto-fascists could find themselves behind a permanent, irreversible bloc via corporate deception. But these same mechanisms will, of necessity, put up barriers between them diverse communities, hiding many of them from the same radically minded labels, and in the process making it impossible to recreate serendipity on Twitter.
To tell the truth, I’m going to miss everything a bit. But this serendipity also made us take a look at our acquaintance with every layer of hell the internet could provide. The casualty you may meet random cool people is also the same degree you can encounter videos of people shot by cops or bombed to death in Ukraine. The sheer amount of snuff available on Twitter is an indictment, and is as much a result of Twitter’s avenue-like structure as anything else. The platform was a daring experiment that gave us a lot of beautiful and funny moments, political education and special benefits for many individuals. However, I can’t shake the feeling that we were all better off without him.
I found myself Consider here a piece of tragically forgotten op-ed from 1987 by journalist Ron Powers about the recent suicide of Penn State Treasurer R. Powers briefly analyzed the different ways in which the various media covered the suicide, what they showed and what they hid from viewers, and concluded that, on the whole, some propriety was upheld. Powers concluded, “If suicide on camera was just another smack in the middle of the picture, that is… the culture had stopped believing that anything mattered.” or trivial.”
When I first heard that line from Powers, my breath caught, just because I knew in my bones this dark future was coming. What could be a better description of Twitter than a world in which its users have stopped believing anything that was important or trivial? with all its delights, that It’s shit language. The sincere faith is to ironically mummify it, lest it show an unkind “moral anomaly,” in the language of the platform that gave rise to the figure: 4chan.
Why should we devote attempts to recreate this in another space on the Internet? It does, after all, sound as if some people want to build on Bluesky, after all. But if Bluesky’s AT protocol succeeds, it will be a somewhat different experience, with the important and the trivial hemmed in by their own tracks. Finally the avenue will disappear.