Refusing to Enter the X Rat Race (for Now)

Life & Work

Since the takeover of Twitter and its subsequent transformation into X, there has been a revival of the creator economy like we’ve not seen in quite a while.

Until this new version of Twitter, there has never really been a sustainable way for the writers to make money from posting on social media. YouTubers could create videos, podcasters could take on sponsorships, but the writers didn’t really have a way to stand out. Back in the old days, you could make money through SEO and Google Adsense, but those days have been (for the most part) gone for a while.

X represents a fascinating opportunity. To write for writing’s sake. I fear that the promise of riches through writing on platforms like X, though, are far too optimistic. Right now, the bros on “writing X” all make money through selling their programs on… you guessed it… writing. So they write and then sell their thoughts on writing, and the cycle continues.

That, to me, is both boring and just weird.

I get depressed when I visit X because my feed is littered with the same 4–5 people repeating each other about why you should write on X. And again, most of them are selling their programs on writing — not some other valuable product or service.

I don’t want someone to follow my work because they like my variation on the same thing 4 other people have said. I want them to follow me for original thinking. It’s not really the kind of thing algorithms like to reward, which is the fundamental problem with algorithms. They are dopamine-inspired. They feed you more of what you want. And while they may mirror your desires, they don’t give you what is truly best for you.

So — as a writer, I’m inspired by the opportunity X presents.

Thinking about X as “YouTube for writers” is a very cool and exciting opportunity. But so far, the actual execution on this is just really uninteresting. Whereas YouTube content seems more diverse to me, X content seems very repetitive and boring.

You might argue, “Well then, Steve, the platform needs more original thinkers like you.” Fine, I can get on board with that. But my goodness, say I have some success, what will my reward be? Clones?

I miss the old days of blog posts like this one. I’m not competing with anyone at all. This is going to live on the Internet forever. I hope someone finds it eventually. Those who follow me on my email list can be notified about the post. I confess there’s a lack of discoverability opportunity for this medium, but I still think long form writing is the holy grail of information dispersal on the Internet.

And this caliber and quality of content just isn’t what social media platforms were made for.

So for now, I’m not joining that rat race.

I’ll continue using social platforms for being social. Making connections and having conversations. I’ll keep publishing on platforms made for publishing — self-hosted ones like WordPress that aren’t based on algorithms and feeds (no, I’m not naive to the realities of search engines; that’s a different conversation entirely).

I’ll write and share my ideas, in hopes you’ll get lots of value and, if it makes sense, buy my products and services. This, I think, is the better way.

Dec 26, 2023

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