blue sky is not like that

There are advantages, of course. Even my cold academic heart cannot deny the joyful relief of my trans sisters and brothers who made it to the open beta version of Bluesky and express enormous relief. how much better the environment is there. How not to be, when a recent post by an MMA fighter openly reflects on publicly executing any cis person who helps trans people was greeted by dozens of blue Muskian checks which they eagerly accepted“Saying that the idea was ‘based’?” Anything is better than the indignity of watching a pack so bloodthirsty for even a few seconds.

But I remember a lot of people saying the same thing about Post, Hive, and Mastodon not a few months ago, myself included. Witnessing the inter-server war destroying an entirely new instance of Mastodon populated mostly by trans women was a cruel reminder of how dangerous it is to think that honeymoons last forever, or that the safety of marginalized people is a mere question of fleeing The fragmentation, perhaps, isolates that toxicity to each of their respective layers of hell in the form of separate servers, preventing a measure of virality, but it will continue to exist, as Mastodon has abundantly. demonstrated with its unbridled hostility towards its black users.

The goals of Bluesky’s owners are truly noble, and even align with some of my own wishes for social media: to break it up, individualize it, and make it more resilient against interference from states or rogue plutocrats like Elon Musk. But they may not be compatible with the precise dream of so many of these shitposters; especially the marginalized. If Bluesky follows through on his promises, the various and varied right-wing “culture warriors” and other crypto-fascists could find themselves behind a permanent blockade that cannot be undone by corporate wiles. But those same mechanisms will also, by necessity, put up barriers between diverse communities, hiding many of them from those same radical-minded bullshit cartels, and in the process making it impossible to recreate the Twitter fluke.

To tell you the truth, I will miss it all a bit. But that serendipity also made us acquaintances with all the layers of hell the internet could provide. The ease with which you could bump into random witty people was also the same degree with which you could brush up against videos of people being shot dead or bombed to death by police in the Ukraine. The sheer amount of snuff available on Twitter is an indictment, and as much a consequence of Twitter’s boulevard-like structure as anything else. The platform was a bold experiment that brought us many beautiful and funny moments, political education, and private benefits for many people. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that we’d all be better off without him.

I found myself reflecting here on a tragically forgotten a bit of editorial comment 1987 by journalist Ron Powers about the then-recent suicide of Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, committed live, on camera, following his conviction for taking bribes. Powers briefly discussed the various ways in which suicide was covered by different outlets, what was shown and what was hidden from viewers, and concluded that a certain decency had generally been maintained. Powers concluded: “If an on-camera suicide were just another image in an image medium, it would mean… that the culture had stopped believing anything was important. either trivial.”

When I first heard that line from Powers, I gasped, simply because I knew in my bones that dark future had arrived. What could be a better description of Twitter than a realm where its users had stopped believing anything was important or trivial? For all your joys, that is the idiom for shitposting; sincere belief must be mummified by irony, lest you come across as a nasty “moralfag,” in the parlance of the platform that gave rise to the form: 4chan.

Why should we extol attempts to recreate this in another online space? That, in the end, feels like what some people want to build on Bluesky, after all. But if Bluesky’s AT Protocol succeeds, it would be quite a different experience, with the important and the trivial corralled into their respective lanes. And the boulevard, finally, would darken.


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