I spied a tweet the other day that journalists would suffer if Twitter ever shut down because they would lose a driver of traffic. While there is some truth to that — Twitter does help expose your writing to a larger audience — it’s also true that Twitter has value beyond that for journalists and other users.
It’s safe to say that Twitter is in disarray as Elon Musk fecklessly tries to grasp the business, instituting mass layoffs as the remaining essential employees flee the general chaos, spurred on by midnight email ultimatums.
That most recent missive, it seems, triggered a mass resignation, according to reports. When you add that to the people who were let go in the layoffs, it’s fair to ask how many people are left to run the site.
Even before all this happened, the TechCrunch team had a conversation on Slack about what we would miss if Twitter went away tomorrow. At the time (three days ago), it felt more like a whimsical game than a real possibility.
For all its warts, Twitter has a way of connecting people who otherwise might never connect. It gives us a place to share our passions, our random thoughts, and yes, our shitposts, all while keeping us up on what’s happening in the world in real time.
“It’s hard to imagine anything could replace Black Twitter. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that we’ll always find our way.” Dominic-Madori Davis
While there are surely many negatives to the platform — it’s way too easy to spread misinformation and hate speech and attack people you disagree with — there are also loads of positives, and many things we would miss if Twitter perishes.
It now feels like it very well could.
So several TechCrunch staffers contributed what they would miss most if Twitter went away (while hoping it’ll still be up tomorrow):
I’m not even sure where to begin to describe the immense impact Black Twitter has had on, well, the world, really. From when I was a teenager, watching so many Black people mobilize to bring awareness to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, to that time we all shared experiences and made jokes as to what it was like having Thanksgiving with a Black family. “When it’s time to leave and the plate you hid is missing, *insert Kermit screaming meme here.*”
The memes are endless, as is the support — and the heat — we give and place onto people and topics. It was a place to find community in a world so unkind to us. It really does feel like its own universe sometimes. I remember a few years ago going to Clubhouse to hear the talks and then running to Twitter to watch everyone live-tweet the conversations.
This thread from a few days ago really brought back memories, in which author Kira J hosted a little “Black Jeopardy.” Famous dates for 500, please. “On December 21st, 2020, what were Black people waiting around to get?” Superpowers. And they’re coming still, don’t worry. They’re just running on CP time.
The community always felt quite insular; what happened there rarely burst out of our bubble. When it does hit the mainstream, everything shifts, everything changes. Like someone walking in on you mid-shower. Non-Black people often don’t understand the humor, the sarcasm, the “wait, did we all have the same childhood?” I’m always reminded of some tweet awhile ago asking, “How does one get into Black Twitter?” It’s not quite the same or as easy as people just giving invites to the cookout (stop just giving those out, please!!!).
“I really want a place to post sentence-long shitposts with no punctuation, and I don’t know where I would go if I couldn’t do that on Twitter anymore.” Amanda Silberling
I often wonder what it is like to not be in Black Twitter.
What do people think when they come across a photo of Chris Evans wearing long neon yellow acrylics with a honey mustard-colored satin bonnet? Where do other people get their news, if not from Philip Lewis? I’ll miss seeing something trending and saying yep, that’s Black Twitter, it has to be. I would miss the solidarity, the camaraderie often not easily made or reciprocated out in the physical world. Yes, I think I would even miss Roc Nation Brunch Twitter, also known as LLC Twitter, also known as the people who tell everyone to start a business and become entrepreneurs. “Would you rather take $500,000 or dinner with Jay-Z?” Seriously, just take the money and run.
Last week, Brooklyn White-Grier, the features editor at Essence, asked everyone what we were going to wear to Twitter’s homegoing service. Someone made programs, started planning gospel music performances, and, of course, we started picking out our hats. I tweeted that I was excited to get an extra low vibrational plate at the repast and would probably show up with slicked-back baby edges and in Valentino couture, as Zendaya did to the Emmys.
It’s hard to imagine anything could replace Black Twitter. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that we’ll always find our way.