I just want to share some back-of-the-envelope math. I’m increasingly convinced that Twitter (or at least the network neighborhoods that comprise my Twitter experience) is becoming a ghost town. Here’s why:
A couple months ago, I spoke with Nancy Scola for her story about why DC-types can’t seem to quit Twitter. One of my comments became the headline: “ I caught lightning in a bottle. I will be one of the last people to leave Twitter.”
The “lightning” in this case, was the whole “Bretbug” dustup back in August 2019. Before Bret Stephens got mad and wrote to my provost, I had about 9,000 followers on the platform. After his weeklong tantrum was over, I had around 40,000 Twitter followers. That number has held pretty steady ever since — today I have around 42,000. That’s… a lot. On paper at least, it makes Twitter a much larger and more valuable megaphone than I am likely to have anywhere else.
I have 3,500 followers on Mastodon. Mastodon is fun! It kind of has the vibe of Twitter circa 2011. I like it. But if I want to promote a new essay that I’ve written, Twitter is my bread and butter. That’s where people will see it and share it.