where do i go after twitter?
+ Should I pursue an idea for a genre of writing i have ZERO experience in? It's Help Wanted #3!
Hello and welcome to all the new BATheads in the building. Did you know that the word December originates from a classic version of the “Deez Nuts” joke in ancient greco-romia:
guy: Hey did you hear about the guy who invented this month? Deec?
girl: Deec who?
guy: deez embers!!!
This was a classic joke because embers were rare and a wee bit naughty. Everyone did the joke so much that eventually December was born. ADD SOURCES FOR THIS.
OK LETS GET ONTO THE ADVICE. We’ve got two dope questions today, I think you’re gonna love em. But first:
If you would like advice or just want to share something or really say anything at all that I can use as a prompt for one of these, please tell me by either:
commenting on this post
emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep em coming they make me less sad. Ok onto the questions:
do you believe in life after twitter?
If Twitter ends, what micro blogging platform should I migrate to? Or should I take any time and effort I spend on Twitter and invest it into my Substack? I'm also active on Discord.
— Geoffrey G. ()
Let me start with one of my the great classical pieces of writing:
My lord, the people no longer wish to spend their days in the bird cave. They beg for change, yet they know not where to go. For many different gods’ sake, they are climbing atop mastodon’s my lord, the least intuitive-to-use animals on the planet.
In short, my lord, the vibes are off.
The people come to you and they ask: where can we go? What can we do? Our lives are on the line, or, in short, they are online.
What sayeth you?
Wanna know when that was written?
That was the year when the the man-who-must-not-been-loved-as-a-child named, and you’re not gonna believe this, Elon Musk, bought the cave and made an absolute mess of things. Not that the cave wasn't a mess already—of course it was, but still, it had become our mess, and it felt like home. But now it was his mess, and many did
So what happened? Where did everyone go?
That's right, there was this little enclave of bees who were super smart and flew together in such a way that they looked like one big human (include photo here so people know its the real deal(make the photo with AI)) and everyone followed those bees out to their 'sweet new hang' which ended up being a honeytrap where hundreds of thousands of human beings who were turned into 'yum yum juice' for the bees. Some say, and this last part is obviously still speculative but I am seeing over 50% of the scientists agreeing on it as of this morning, that today’s bees are plotting against us too and are just, this is a quote, 'biding their time, waiting to see how many more humans are made' before eating us up.
I told you it wasn't gonna be pretty!
Hope this helped, Geoffrey Good luck with everything! Ok onto our next question!
If you think I am stalling because I don’t know how to answer, you are 100% right. K, here’s a shot.
Let’s start with the Dark Forest Theory of the Internet by Yancey Strickler. Where do we go, Yancey’s asks, when when the world has been overrun by the giant, chaotic cities of Social Media, each one a demented Times Square with stadium seating and wrestling matches in every direction as far as the Lasik eye can see. The wrestlers stumble from one fight to the next, barely alive, forever and ever and ever. Little posses form within the goodies and the heels, and everyone in the audience picks a side. For what is the Intellectual Dark Web if not Wolfpack NWO for contrarians?
Oh and then over to the right there's a few America's Got Talent stages set up where anyone --even you!--could be chosen to perform or just say some real dumb shit and become the Main Character Of the Day!!! Here’s Yancey:
In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream.
He continues with some examples:
Dark forests like newsletters and podcasts are growing areas of activity. As are other dark forests, like Slack channels, private Instagrams, invite-only message boards, text groups, Snapchat, WeChat, and on and on. This is where Facebook is pivoting with Groups (and trying to redefine what the word “privacy” means in the process).
These are all spaces where depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments. The cultures of those spaces have more in common with the physical world than the internet.
From your question, it sounds like you’ve found many a dark forest already with your substack, discord, etc.
I too have found myself more and more enjoying, spending time in, and, ironically, connecting with not just people in my 'circle' but an audience of readers who appreciate and show up for the work that I'm trying to do in a way that is much deeper than what was happening on twitter.
BUT that doesn’t fully answer your question, because I also don’t think the move is to just retreat to the dark forests to sleep in the woods and eat tiny berries for the rest of your life.
ok so, what next?
I wonder if What Comes Next is less about about “where do we go” and more about “how do we act when we get there.“
We've all spent the last ten years with swimming in the contaminated waters of three or four platforms for so long that we no longer realize there’s fresh air on the surface and free wifi too. We all know the water is going to kill us, but where else would we go? Plus come on, the water is amazing if you want to waste time, read news, promote work, try to get famous, see a meme.
And what this taught us, in that medium is the message sort of way, is that we lack the agency to create anything beyond what is already here in front of us (sound familiar? that’s the capitalism baby!!). It’s like we’re stuck in the radioactive water with firework casings in it for some reason even though NO fireworks have gone off in like a while.
BUT that idea is crumbling! We are all realizing, I hope maybe sorta, that we do have some agency. Particularly for people, and I would definitely include you in this group, who are not looking to be Famous but instead to be in community with others who are doing cool shit and appreciate said cool shit and dare I say that is a place you can find anywhere.
Unless you feel like that place doesn’t yet exist for you, in which case you can make that space (easier said than done, you white man of privilege, I remind myself) ! But that is where the agency + the democratization of the internet blah blah can collab. In fact, oh here it is I figured it out, the truth is that it doesn't really matter which platform you use. The one you pick will be the right one because you're on it!
Hell ya i didn't think I could end this one with any sort of hallmarky thing but I sorta did!
Sorta. Because we can’t just stay in the darkness. At least I can’t. I need to make the occasional trek out to the big city and eat some sushi, see a show, buy a cool indie book about the history of Jewish comedy and bring it back to my friends in the forest. Also, the city is the marketplace. And when you’ve made your new game, you sorta gotta bring it out to the marketplace, right?
I just think we no longer need to LIVE in the marketplace.
Ok, one final thing. Listening to The Gray Area podcast interview with guest, who writes the very dope and looks at all this stuff through a broader philosophical lens, I was struck by how Sacasas talked about 'paying attention':
I've come to prefer the language of attending to the language of attention because it does suggest a measure of care as well, right? That when I attend to somebody, it's not just that I'm paying attention, which kind of drags in these economic metaphors, but rather that I, and I'm exhibiting care for them, and this is why I ought to cultivate my attention.
I love that idea - attending. And so wherever you go, not only there you are but also feel free to ask yourself — what is the vibe I’m bringing to this: am I trying to pay attention to everything going on, aka scanning and skimming, scrolling and grimming?
Or am I looking to attend to the things that matter, to exhibit care toward them?
There’s no right answer, truly, nor is it black and white WAIT A SECOND BOTH ARE TRUE RING THE BELL!!!
By asking a few questions like the ones below, maybe you can figure out which places mean which things to you?
what am I looking for from this space?
am I attending or am I tryna pay a bunch of attention in this place?
what do I want to give to this place?
In part two of the Dark Forest essay, Yancey grapples with whether to live fully in the dark forests or to also include the big social media in his life, for if he doesn’t he knows that the Russian bots and crazies will take over and that’s no good. I found this passage super helpful in orienting ourselves toward whatever is next:
What’s the in-between? That’s what my experiments have been trying to find. That process is ongoing, but my more-complicated-in-practice-than-theory answer is to strive to be your true self in every context and vow to be present wherever you are. We can’t lurk in the dark forests and expect anything to change for the better. To improve and positively contribute to the communities and cultures we’re a part of, we have to actively engage.
The key word here being experiment. Try things on like an Old Navy Tech Vest because everyone else is wearing them in middle school and so YOU HAVE TO, but know that you can at any point realize that those tech vests sort of suck and make your arms feel like they’ve been sacrificed to the elements and will fall off momentarily, and put on something else.
In summary: attend to the dark forests of your soul. Every once in a while pack a big lunch and head on out to the city with the marketplace to watch the Baddies fight the Goodies and maybe sell a couple things while you’re at it.
I want to make this thing, but I have no experience so I shouldn’t try, yea?
Ok if I had an idea for a tv drama and zero experience, I should just forget it right? OR....?
— Michael M. ()
I first zeroed in on the “zero experience” part of your question (get it? zeroed in? yes!), which gives me the sense that given your lack of experience with TV drama, you perhaps shouldn’t even try.
I have come to believe less and less in the idea ‘the perfect medium’ for people (“I have always known I wanted to be a 16th century mid modern dada painter”) and more in the idea of simply putting all of your ideas, urges, questions somewhere. Doesn’t really matter where they go or what form they take as long as they go somewhere and take some kind of form. It matters less and less where I put the ideas and more that I just have one or a few buckets to put them in. This has helped me dance around from acting to improv to stand up to screenwriting to writing here on this substack to my One True Calling, giving advice at an international level.
Because without the buckets, you will get idea constipated and need exlax for your mind and brother, trust me, it ain't pretty. Perhaps this ‘reframe’ (any therapists in the house have to drink) this can take some power away from "The TV Drama Form I Do Not Know” and turn it into more of a cutesy wootsy bucket that you can throw some ideas into.
Let’s be like a gopher and dig deep
As a triple black belt myself in the art of self loathing and pronouncing my ideas / projects as DOA (Dead On Arrival, not DObrenkoAlex) so I can get ahead of the pain I will feel if and most likely when they do not 'succeed', I think I know what you're doing. Your question sort of encapsulates the entire creative process perfectly, like a lil poem, maybe even a haiku who can say:
ok if i had an idea for a tv drama and zero experience, I should just forget it right? OR....?
That “OR….?”!! Let’s “double click” that as we say in at the Genius bar.
Some would call that “OR….” hope, others the thing with feathers. Either way, that OR is a beautiful last yelp for something different, for possibility, a scream that says no, I shall not forever be held prisoner inside to my own pity party and may instead maybe just maybe try to do something I want to do and yet am scared to do.
Beautiful, sure, but we know how fickle that hope is. It'll say it's visiting for a whole weekend to hang and then come friday night, you there with a tea or a toddy, a notebook or a macbook, a dream or a scheme, and hope is nowhere to be found. It's out with the rich people, the creative ones, the ones who have the experience in TV drama and made the sopranos and lost and fleabag and they're all laughing about you and your dumb idea and why you thought you'd ever pull it off.
Which is exactly how it will feel when you work on it. All of a sudden you’ll become a high powered attorney laying out the bulletproof case for why This Man aka you would Never be able to write a TV drama. Please see exhibits 1,2, 3 all the way to 743.
So you know what I say? Fuck em. Fuck the doubt by which I mean, for legal purposes, to acknowledge the doubt and say hi and say that its ok for it to be there blah blah but also: tell it to fuck off a little bit. Maybe for tonight. It can come back tomorrow, you know it will regardless.
And then maybe just maybe you'll have 20 good minutes of time work on the tv drama. It isn't much, but it beats the darkness as bookowski once said in his poom, “The Laughing Heart”:
there are ways out there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness. be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them.
Kinda intense there at the end with the gods but I’m into it!
Set your expectations low: you probably won't sell this idea. You may never sell an idea. But that can’t be why you do it. Trust me I’ve tried, and I am still trying even though I KNOW that the real reason why you or I would want to explore any creative idea is simply for the sake of exploring. Because it came to you in a dream or a trance and itched the "huh, how about that" part of you brain enough that you clocked it, kept it around, noodled on it, SCRATCHED it and even came to me to ask for advice on it.
More and more, the older I get (I’m 64 come Mebruary), I believe that the purpose of all this Art stuff is the release. I keep trying to think of better words but the one that keeps coming up is this:
Which I think is right -- it isn't pretty, the release, there is strain, and it's scary and lonesome especially if you're having to do it in a public bathroom at starbucks while someone else knocks on the door over and over even though it is clear you are in there given the loud coughing you've been faking so that they get the idea, but they don't and honestly it makes you realize that sometimes you have also been the guy doing the knocking, meaning at one point or another we've all said "I am the one that knocks."
Whoa sorry blacked out for a second, what were we talking about? Right--excreting art knowing that the end result will be shit. But that’s not what matters, because the value, the need, the reason to do it at all is the process of releasing it from your system, however you can. The end result—the shit that we might call art or god forbid content—will look nothing like the original idea you had, but who cares. That wasn't the point. I am fully talking to myself now, Michael, give me a second. And hey if someone does want to buy the shit that you made, cool! But that's not why you pooped the art out.
No, you pooped out the art because you needed to, because something inside you said hey my tummy hurts can you help? For all the chucklefucks in the back, the tummy here represents the soul.
Now look, I know its a bulletproof analogy that's perfect in every way, unimpeachable (especially with this congress am i right folks?) but still it may not answer your question. Especially since after I emailed you earlier today asking how you would like me to feature your name, you response included "Hey Alex, your timing is perfect! Made a new contact connected with my question so I’ll expand on that after you publish."
Though I may not be the murder she wrote lady, I'm fairly confident in my deducing that you seem to not only be powering on with the project but you've found a 'contact' that is to say a friend, a comrade, a contemporary.
In which case all of the above is probably useless, but I wrote it and I sort of at least like it, especially if I don't read back over it much, so I'm going to keep it.
There's that saying, I think in AA, "the only person that can help you is you." Maybe so too with advice. I try to help you but am really helping me, and you ask for advice and resolve the issue in the asking. Much like with the excretion of art that I so fortuitously mentioned just a few paragraphs prior, it is the process of asking and helping, the conversation itself that matters more than the answer itself. That's the thesis of OH SHIT HE'S ABOUT TO DO A PLUG MY GOD WHAT AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER Help Wanted, the podcast we're going to release next year where we give 'bad therapy to good friends.'
The format is simple: someone comes on the show and asks for help and we try and mostly fail to help them BUT through the conversation itself, there is some semblance of healing. It's gonna be so dope. AND oh wow this does connect! I've wanted to release the podcast for like 6 months but been afraid to, telling myself a nearly identical version of your initial question: “Ok if I had an idea for a
tv drama podcast and zero experience, I should just forget it right? OR....?
Obviously the answer is the OR... which is a really succinct to say:
BOTH ARE TRUE. You did it Michael, you really fucking did it.
I'll end with the last few lines in Bukowski's laughing heart:
your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.
Also I want 10% of gross revenue on the TV show. I said gross, not net. Don’t fuck me on this Michael.
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Let’s talk about it. Some prompts;
Where are you heading after twitter? Or are you staying?
What would our ideal social media / networks landscape be to you?
Have you ever ventured out of your genre / medium of choice and done something else? How’d it go?
Do you need any advice with something anything or even just a question or statement you’d like me to use as a writing prompt, please let me know.
Thanks, and as always, thank you.
Another useful model for thinking through this stuff is the difference between social media and social networks. On a recent episode of The Gray Area titled “The end of social media”, writer Ian Bogost explains that social networks were like these house parties where you'd go to hang with people you mostly already sort of knew, with the loose goal to 'establish and maintain social bonds, usually with a relatively small number of people at once'“
Examples of social networks might be personal relationships on Facebook, business stuff on LinkedIn, community / hobby clubs on Reddit etc.
Then came SOCIAL MEDIA, which felt more like a gigantic rave with a tiny stage on wheels that moves indiscriminately throughout the space so that anyone, even you!, could get a chance to grab that microphone and speak and the whole world would listen. Like a casino for the soul, a lottery for what feels like fame.
Social Media creates in us, Bogost said, the assumption that we ought to have a large audience, that getting one is possible and necessary, and that it’s only a matter of time until you do, until which point you are simply "a temporarily inconvenienced, famous person posting on the internet."
Woof. I share the distinction because I think it’s helpful for identifying what comes next. Do you seek one or a few social networks, or a new Social Media rave? (genuinely there is no wrong answer here)
Here’s another question for you: if you were to jump over to a new micro-blogging platform, what would be the purpose? To stay up to date on news? To share you work (which is incredible and deserves to be seen by the world so I get that one)? To see what everyone else is working on? Etc. And then once you know what you want, then you can ask yourself: does New Social Platform provide said thing for me?
Here's a useful chart from, one of my favorite people to read about all things internet, including an essay he wrote called What will the media do without Twitter:
It’s really that middle one that’s the trickiest, at least for me, like I’m not sure you can make a living sharing your art with the few other weirdos who have come to find you in the forest. Or maybe you can??
1) I somehow made my way to TikTok, lord help us.
4) Would you rather be a dragon or have a dragon?
Great post, Alex! You were born to give advice, although maybe your father doesn't see it that way. BTW, we need an update on his water consumption.
Where do I go after Twitter, or am I staying?
I think I'm staying for now, but I'm spending less time there. I liked your idea of the marketplace and how we don't have to live there, but if we want to create, we sort of need to take our art to the market and show it to people. I'm fine with that. So yeah, I guess I'm pulling away, but I'm not leaving. I tried Post.News, and it's OK, but it's also in beta, which is rough, and also it feels like a dead room, which awful. Honestly, I'm not sure there's a real twitter replacement on the horizon.
What's my ideal form of social media?
Honestly, it probably looks just like the platforms we have today, but it would feel a lot different. Here's what I mean. Social media companies have made a choice to focus on engagement because that fuels their ad-supported model. No issue there for me. But engagement comes in many forms. There's the sugar rush of outrage, that's one kind of engagement. But there are also more nutritious kinds of engagement that take longer to digest and maybe don't taste so sweet, but instead of killing you, they help you grow up into a healthy human being. I guess my ideal social media platform would be one that rewards posts that are good for us, or at least not terrible for us.
Have you ever ventured out of your genre / medium of choice and done something else? How’d it go?
Yes, many times. I've worked in multiple genres and mediums. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I always learn something about myself and why I feel this need to create art and share it, and I can always apply that lesson to the next thing. I'm a big believer in exploring different mediums and genres.