Discover more from The Chancery Daily
The Retweat: Introduction to the Longest Farewell
Leaving Twitter is harder than Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Since the madness of starting and growing a Twitter account in the crucible of covering the death of Twitter 1.0 and the post-merger re-birth (and subsequent mangling) of Twitter 2.0 over the past year, I’ve threatened or tried to quit the social media platform more times now than I can count. I’ve taken breaks and attempted to switch to other platforms for my own mental health. I’ve tried to learn better techniques for managing my psychological energy and how to balance the benefits of interacting with great people while navigating energetic vampires. I’ve done my best to establish boundaries and I’ve failed to maintain them just as many times as I’ve succeeded in setting them up.
I have had various reasons for wanting to leave Twitter: personal, practical, and ideological. I have made no secret of the fact that I disagree with much of how Elon handled the merger process, and the disrespect that he has shown for the legal process in the Twitter matter specifically, as well as more generally across every legal domain in which he operates, which are many and varied. I have tried not to allow Elon’s politics to get in the way of the synergies I derive from Twitter’s platform, but when the sole owner of a platform is posting abhorrent things, boosting content I find personally reprehensible, and kowtowing to authoritarians around the world for his own ends, it’s hard to justify staying on the platform just to continue to seek efficiencies that can surely be gained in other ways — even if those other ways will require loads more work, be much less efficient, and at times be far less fun.
The thing about Twitter is that it was the roller-coaster of a lifetime. I started the new Chancery Daily account in July 2022, with zero followers, to cover the Twitter v. Musk matter and perhaps alleviate some of the burden on the Court by sharing documents and news about the case, because I could tell by the level of discussion about the case that it was bound to be the talk of the online square. And boy, was I not wrong about that. What happened from there was almost hard to put into words, although I have been trying for the past several months to do so in various formats, but suffice it so say: it was nothing short of life-changing, personally and professionally. It was a microcosmic story of the meta-narrative of the case; it was the most sophisticated Court in the country reduced to the most base mimetic form. It was everything everywhere all at once. It was incredible. And my meme game was so on point, y’all had to be there.
Anyhoo, some of you may have heard of the new platform in beta — Bluesky — where the way 2022 went down for me was quite well summed up recently:
While I was spending 10-12 hour days digesting the litigation into bite-sized pieces from the Court to the public (and a meme or two for good measure), most of what I saw going on during the merger in the opposite direction were things that were communicated to me privately from employees who were going through the process. When I put that together with what I knew from intimately understanding all the ins and outs of the legal side of things, and how justified (or very much not) Elon’s legal arguments were, it made for a unique experience I never could have imagined being part of, and I can’t really think of another way to describe it beyond “second hand psychological corporate trauma.” It’s been a lot, and although I don’t really think it’s something I’ll ever ‘get over’ — it’s something I’m still working through, and trying to figure out what role Twitter 2.0 plays in my life and my work is part of that process.
As many of you know, I am much not one for short or abbreviated experiences. The process of leaving Twitter has been a long and drawn-out one, and I’ve waxed and waned in both my commitment to leaving and I’ve waxed both poetic and vitriolic at times about the process, to both beneficial and detrimental effect, I’m sure.
Twitter has been an insanely good platform for me, although at times the strong emphasis has been on the insanity. It’s allowed me to connect with people whom I likely never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. But I know — for a confluence of reasons — it’s time for me to step back from it. It’s not just one thing. Maybe I’ll find a way to make it work in the future, I don’t know. But right now, having the crutch of being able to just tweet out something briefly makes it much harder for me to do the work that I want to be doing, which is to sit down and grapple with longer form content here. Instead, I toggle solely between working on my day job as Editor-in-Chief of The Chancery Daily on our main legal publication and sending out all sorts of little missives and threads on Twitter for our lay readers. And that’s fine, I suppose, but there is a lot more that I have to say that is to be said in this middle space, and I absolutely refuse to continue to just toss it all into the waste bin that truly is Twitter.
Moreover, it’s simply not healthy for me to spend a lot of time on social media. Maybe y’all can manage it better than I do, I don’t know — more power to you if you can, I suppose. But becoming an account with a large following has a fairly significant set of interesting knock-on effects that can be a lot to manage, especially for someone like me, who has a tendency to want to help and interact with everyone on a good faith basis. Because, as it turns out, some people are just not good faith actors. Go figure.
Anyway, that’s why I’m making The Retweat — because I’d still like to share things that are going on, on Twitter, off Twitter. And I’m going to do it in this series, or at least, I’m going to allow myself the possibility of doing so. Because one of the things that has bothered me every time I have tried to leave Twitter, is that I still think it’s important to know what is going on there, but I want to do it without getting sucked in by going back there and posting there. So, I want to set aside a little space in my Substack where I might just send little posts to keep you apprised of what’s going on over on Twitter, so that if I happen to find myself logged in there, I won’t feel the need to post there, I’ll remember that it’s just research for my Substack series, and I will remember to get in, get info, and GTFO. I’ve never really been a Twitter doomscroller. That’s never been the problem with Twitter for me. And I find it disturbing that people don’t know what Elon Musk is really about, what he is doing on the platform, what is happening there, and I worry that if I leave, the world will never know. I recognize that for the truly batshit solipsistic view that it is — but I always promised to be honest with you and sometimes my honest thoughts are very silly and stupid. That’s the dumb part of my brain having an irrational fear, and if I allow it to do what it does, and have the irrational fear, I think I might actually be able to leave that godforsaken place, get on with life, and post about things that matter in a place where you can actually enjoy and consume the content, if you so choose.
People will ask me if I’m going to the Fediverse or to Bluesky, and I mean, yes, I have accounts on both, but the truth is — all short form social media is sort of the problem at the moment. I need to slow things down for a while, so I don’t plan to switch to either as a replacement, because that’s very much missing the point. But my quick take on the two fora is that I gave Mastodon and the Fediverse a good faith effort, I believe, but I found the gatekeeping vibes a bit too strong for my liking, although I think the tech obviously has all the potential it needs. Bluesky is similar decentralized protocol, but the nuanced differences in the architecture may make its protocol the eventual winner — much remains to be seen about how it all plays out in reality and implementation. You can find me on both protocol for now on my preferred apps at https://elk.zone/masto.ai/@chancerydaily and https://staging.bsky.app/profile/chancerydaily.bsky.social. I also created a Bluesky account for this Substack, which will post notifications about new articles, since Substack was showing off direct integration with Bluesky, which is pretty cool: https://staging.bsky.app/profile/thechancerydaily.substack.com. Don’t worry if you are not on Bluesky yet (it’s invite only and incredibly limited thus far) — I’m not posting any original substantive content there for that reason. The only content that I’ve really posted there is about the baby raccoon that I saved a few weeks back, whom I named Chance. But just so you don’t feel left out, here are the goods.
A portion of you will hate this post. That’s excellent. You can show yourselves out, though if you do now, you’ll miss the floodgates that me leaving Twitter inevitably opens over the next few days and weeks (trust me, if you’re new around here, we have historical data on this and there is a lot of pent-up water behind this dam). And if you do leave, you could even do it without saying something asinine or mean on the way out, but I know only a secondary subset of you will find yourselves capable of doing so. Another portion of you will just want me to move on to your pet topic or whatever you think is the mission critical item you want me to be focusing on. Trust that I can only do that when I have my focus dialed in, and the only way on to the next thing is through whatever is in front of me, so you should be supportive and generous with your humanity, but again — I won’t hold my breath. (But you probably could hold your breath if you are waiting for posts on AMC or Tesla because they will be coming shortly down the pike. Ok, maybe not that shortly, but in short order. Don’t actually try holding your breath, please.) The remainder of you are my people, and I love you and thank you. To all of you, though, I send my appreciation.
Much love, Chance