This Is Not a Twitter Eulogy

Feature image by Hiroshi Watanabe via Getty Images

As a woman of tattoo experience, it goes without saying that the first ink that stained my skin is absolutely — beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt — fucking terrible. A design that doesn’t make sense, a mish-mash of rushed ideas that needed editing, and a sentiment that needed a careful few moments to sit and rest before they were committed to permanence. But it’s there less for aesthetics and more as a constant reminder.

The bell on the bow has been ringing for days foretelling of imminent doom. Twitter, they say, is sinking into the cold depths of an unknown grave, and those of us who litter the many decks of its once resplendent glamor are doomed souls wandering aimlessly before the end comes to claim us. Or, I guess, so a lot of us would have you believe.

#TwitterIsDead, and variations of it, has been trending for days. The more a death is all but certain in the eyes of all who bear witness, the more we talk about what that end truly means. We do not typically like to speak of it. To give death a name is troubling for so many of us, and to draw parallels between death and a social media site going offline is a stretch that is all but sure to snap.

Fifteen years ago, in my mid twenties, I met a woman playing pool in a bar in Alberta, right in front of one of those mechanical bucking broncos and next to a vending machine that sold cigarettes. We exchanged numbers, typing them by hand into our little flip phones, and called each other from our respective cabs on our way home to say goodnight and to make a date to play mini golf in a mall that following week.

We dated for about a year after that. Then, feeling the sting of the cuts from my past relationships, the ones that had fallen apart when I told my partners about my secret transness, I left her and moved back home to the Yukon.

I understand why Twitter going away feels upsetting. A lot of us, myself very much included, use it for more than just shit posting or cyberbullying the mayor. It is a collective meeting space for many who choose to gather and congregate with others that share in their united desire to feel something in fleeting seconds
, forever chasing the high that might ascend in our souls if we were to hold onto the elation that floods endorphins into our brain at every notification notice.

It is a place of kind and thoughtful worship, endless discourse, deliberate misunderstandings, and needless suffering. It’s a networking event that never really starts nor does it ever truly end, the limbo of long snack lines stuffed with bad coffee and just-okay muffins populated by name tags talking amongst themselves waiting for a keynote that will never happen. I, like many, use Twitter for work, to promote and to talk to and with an audience and to meet peers and mentors that might help me survive in an industry that isn’t always the kindest to writers that aren’t voices they’re used to. I know this to be a feeling shared by many.

A few years beyond the moment I broke up with the woman I met by the bronco machine next to the cigarettes, the regret of my decisions weighed heavy, and I reached out to see if the bridge had been so irreparably burned. We are all so connected now that it’s very quaint to remember digging through the depths of my archives to see if I still had her Hotmail information. I did, it was a Friends reference that I never fully understood but appreciated her desire to hold onto her youth by never using her real name as her email address.

We made plans, over Hotmail dot com, to have dinner. I picked her up in my sister’s blue Honda with a heater that worked if you kicked it just right, and we went to her favorite TexMex fast-casual restaurant for dinner. That night, as sizzling plates of Fajitas whizzed past the heads of regretful quesadilla diners, she told me that she was of course so happy to hear from me and to see me again. But she had to tell me about something that had happened after we split up that I should know — dramatic pause for our waiter to drop our own wisely chosen fajitas — she had cancer.

It’s easy to say that Twitter is the fucking worst. “Hellsite” is such a cliche that I am well and truly surprised that some enterprising computer programmer in some distant room has not developed a Twitter clone in the days since we saw the very cringe photo of a grown man carrying a sink into an office complex called Hellsite. If you are reading this and formulating plans, just know that you are stealing my idea.

But it is the hellish part of the site that forges our bonds. Like every bad job I have ever hated with every spark of flame in my heart, I only show up every day because of everyone else there. Hating something in unison is beautiful in its own way, arms woven together in solidarity in the struggle. Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig. I believe with everything in me that Twitter is actually great, precisely because of everyone there who agrees that place fucking sucks.

There are many places to receive bad news, but let me tell you, the worst is when you come home drunk at 3 a.m. and fall asleep on the front lawn, whiskey and tequila on your breath and a styrofoam container full of unsafe chicken wings and potato wedges next to you. A morning just like that is when I got a call from a devastated father saying his daughter, the woman I had started dating after we met playing pool by a bronco and a cigarette box, had died the night before. We had made plans to see each other a few weeks before, both of us not saying the plans we were making were to say that final goodbye, and her dad told me she had asked him to call me to say it for her. I never said it back, not to her and that morning not to him. I just sat there in my feelings on a lawn and felt everything become nothing in my body.

The very first tattoo I ever got was for her. Her initials, on my arm, drawn by a friend who agreed to design it for free and who definitely was not the artist I thought she was. Some people think it says Sting, and they ask if I really like the Police, which is a question that warrants one No and one “eh, Roxanne is fine but otherwise No.” The tattoo isn’t just to honor her, it’s to remind myself that there are words that will go unspoken unless you choose otherwise, and the regret of not saying is a regret you might carry with you always. I see the same regret growing in others, the desperate sliding of DMs as a poorly planned solution to a problem created from not comfortably voicing our desires in all the time we have spent with them.

I have watched with careful wonder as Night Twitter descends into a throbbing mass of increasingly horny posters talking about all the site has meant to them, imploring anyone with crushes to come forward and name them, and posting pole and hole with reckless abandon. It’s, quite frankly, fucking beautiful. In the last few days, I have watched beloved queer friends tell each other of their desires, sliding so fast into DMs. People have felt free to post photos of their bodies in all the ways they would love to have them be perceived, and if that isn’t triumph in that face of uncertainty then I don’t know what is.

This is what Twitter has always been, what so many of us who use it as a networking platform or a promotional tool can easily forget. It is an even stage for any and all who dare stand on its unsteady surface to proclaim the truths hidden away in the depths of their hearts. Even if the name they give is false or their profile picture a mask of creation, the message always bears truth. There are few places anywhere on earth to be so free.

My wish for us all is to remember this beauty in the day. I am one of those hopeful few who don’t believe that Twitter will go anywhere. I find myself somehow the captain of a thousand ships that litter the bottoms of forgotten oceans claiming they are simply too powerful to fail. As I watch friends, colleagues, and beloved strangers exchange their love for each and for the hellsite we have been tied to for so long, I wish we could simply all look at the message dug into our skin from a shitty first tattoo and remember that the messages of love and connection, and those of lust and desire and thirst, should be every day. Live every day as if it is the last night on Twitter and you will find yourself with no regrets when whatever deck we find ourselves trapped upon sinks deep into the depths of a deep and dark eternity.


Before you go! It costs money to make indie queer media, and frankly, we need more members to survive 2023As thanks for LITERALLY keeping us alive, A+ members get access to bonus content, extra Saturday puzzles, and more! Will you join? Cancel anytime.

Join A+!

Niko Stratis

Niko Stratis is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in outlets like SPIN, Bitch, Xtra, Catapult and more. Her work primarily focuses on culture, the 1990s, queer/trans topics and as often as possible where all those ideas intersect. 

She wrote that piece about Jackass that you liked and also the Gin Blossoms one. 

She is also the creator and host of V/A Club, a podcast about movie soundtracks.

Niko lives in downtown Toronto with her fiancé and their dog and 2 cats. She is a cancer.

Niko has written 41 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. “There are many places to receive bad news, but let me tell you, the worst is when you come home drunk at 3 a.m. and fall asleep on the front lawn, whiskey and tequila on your breath and a styrofoam container full of unsafe chicken wings and potato wedges next to you.”

    Damn Niko — just carve the route straight to my soul why don’t you? This whole piece is brilliant but this line — I’ll be thinking about it for weeks.

  2. Twitter is still alive as a website, but Elon is re-platforming his fellow fascists and suspending his critics for arbitrary reasons. I’m concerned that folks are still using it, in denial as if he hasn’t shown us enough of who he is, since it was so important to him to re-platform Babylon Bee, Trump, and do this “amnesty” BS for banned accounts in less than 1 month. The algorithms that determine what information we get and when we get it will increasingly be manipulated. Twitter leadership seemed to have gotten a better handle on bots and neo-Nazis after the Trump presidency, and it’s regressed (by design) under Elon. Privacy is at risk. What it was is dead and gutted and as a business, it was never ours. On the plus side, there was a lot going on there and on the downside, it had a monopoly on communication as a central hub, and no regulation. Now it’s the Wild West there, with Nazis. Hope to see you and the Autostraddle crew on Mastodon, Post, etc. and rebuild platforms outside the reach of plutocrats.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!