I joined Twitter about 9 months after it started. It was 2006, and I was working out of my Perth studio when I got an email invite to join the new app from a friend working at a startup in San Francisco. It all sounded very exciting.
Fast forward 14 years: Twitter is now one of the most influential platforms of what was eventually coined ‘social media’.
Alongside Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn and a litany of other platforms, the social media boom has transformed the way people discover, absorb and share information, art, music, news, and everything in between. An unmistakable game-changer socially, professionally and technologically.
Over the years, I’d been boiling away on the uncomfortable notion of social media’s toxicity but did very little about it.
The algorithm is now perfectly gamed for outrage. Enragement = engagement. (= revenue). It rewards the Man With A Hammer Tendency more than cogent, nuanced writing, art or conversation. This is not a good place to spend your time.
Cartoonist and comedian Jason Chatfield ruminates about social media
(and why he has come to prefer direct email subscription/communication).
Every Tuesday for the past 5 years, I’ve sent out an email with a free cartoon, illustration, comic story, or all three.
Over the years, I’ve developed a genuine connection with the readers of my cartoons who reply to my weekly emails. I’ve learned a lot about their lives in every part of the world. It’s a connection I genuinely value, as opposed to the comments that would appear under any given cartoon, and when I send out my once-a-year “Share this newsletter with a friend” request, the number of new subscribers nearly doubles.
I now exclusively use Mailchimp to share my work with my readers. (I’m exploring Substack as an alternative… watch this space)
And Jason isn’t the only one disappointed with social media: