I have been a part of the Twitter community since 2006, initially joining anonymously and then under my name in 2007. As a result, I have witnessed the platform’s transformation from a simple tool for sharing status updates to a diverse social media network catering to millions of users worldwide, including celebrities, politicians, journalists, and activists.
Over the years, Twitter has introduced various features such as multimedia support, engagement tools, and an increased character limit, shaping the platform we know today. But, looking back, there’s no way that many original users would predict the rapid decline of a site we know and love.
Twitter is gone. Long live its quirky spirit.
Elon Musk and Twitter Culture
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has significantly shaped Twitter culture. His acquisition of Twitter, Inc. in 2022 led to a decline in the platform’s revenue, employee count, market share, engagement, and overall reputation.
One of the most controversial changes Musk introduced was the new verification program, allowing users to verify their identity for $8/month and leading to the removal of legacy blue checkmarks for some accounts in that program — but not all.
The Blue Checkmark Controversy and Celebrity Dilemma
The blue checkmark on Twitter formerly represented verification, symbolizing authenticity and credibility. However, since Musk’s changes to the verification process, the blue checkmark has become a contentious topic among users.
I was verified in 2011, and I’m also one of the users whose blue checkmark was revoked. I stopped tweeting long before the controversy because I disagreed with Musk’s stance on politics, civil rights, and personal freedom. I’m sorry, but he’s gross. And he doesn’t need my $8, nor will giving him any money make me more business famous.
To appease upset users, Musk reinstated some verified badges for certain celebrities. But it’s complicated because he has not differentiated between those paying $8/month for the new blue checkmark and those gifted the elite status. This lack of transparency has left many celebrities and brand managers feeling conflicted about participating in the new verification program and using the platform to connect with their fans.
Impact without a Blue Checkmark
Regardless of the blue checkmark controversy, having one is not required to make an impact on Twitter. Users without verification, including celebrities and brand managers, can still build significant followings through their content and engagement strategies. Or they can find their people elsewhere.
For example, many news media outlets have decided to remove their accounts from Twitter. And advertisers are fleeing the platform because they don’t align with Musk’s sketchy positions on politics, so-called freedom of speech, and basic human decency. And while Musk talks about building a bot-free platform for public discourse, many users have left the platform because the most amplified accounts churn out content awash in misogyny, adolescent humor, and alt-right political statements.
What’s Next for Twitter and Our Well-being
Who cares about Twitter? It doesn’t care about you back.
As Twitter faces an uncertain future, it is crucial to prioritize personal well-being and take control of social media consumption habits. In addition, balancing online engagement with offline relationships and activities can help maintain mental health and foster genuine connections.
It is time for users to critically evaluate their relationship with social media platforms like Twitter, especially when controversial figures like Elon Musk influence those platforms. By nurturing personal relationships, offline interests, and mindful social media use, we can empower ourselves to create a healthier, more fulfilling digital experience.
Ultimately, our well-being and the connections we forge in the real world matter. Let’s ask what’s next for that.