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Something dissonant about the way that my Twitter feed is currently fully in desperation over the terrifying critical injury of Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old football player, on a field in Cincinnati—a communally-experienced condemnation of the NFL—and how my feed here is… just not? I want to leave that place with an urgency, but the transition is teaching me a lot about network effects and the nuances of specific communities and the intention of spaces and I mostly just want that kid to be okay.

It’s really interesting seeing what people have had to say about this—and somewhat confirms a couple of my key assumptions: that it’s a little bit about who I follow and what my expectations are for immediacy (not a whole lot different from early Twitter in that regard). To elaborate, then, a few things that I feel like I’m accepting or understanding, and a few counterpoints:

First, I don’t think I understood how much I’d internalized Twitter as something that breaks news so immediately (for better and for worse). That seems maybe like a ridiculous thing not to have internalized (especially for somebody who works in the news) but it’s a different thing to feel its absence. I don’t think think I NEED immediacy in that way; I can adjust. I can wake up to good or horrible news—it’s fine.

Next, I reckon that the trillions of second-order relationships in any given person’s social graph take some time to settle in, and I’ve only been over here long enough for my hosting provider to have noticed a problem with my credit card, and I can be patient about that. It took me years to follow specific communities and build trust with those communities on Twitter. I’m okay with it taking time here, too.

However, I do think there’s a finer edge to the gnarled sword of algorithmic recommendations than we tend to talk about, and that edge is about pulling things into view that correspond to emergent conversations in your first-order relationships. As a person who is in his own tiny space, I don’t think I benefit from adjacencies of people in larger servers in the federation. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Turns out there are things I like about machine learning sometimes.

The other thing here is about whether or not I should care about football. I should be very clear about this: I generally do not “care” about football in any meaningful sense, but when many of the Black and brown folks I follow on Twitter all note simultaneously that a young Black man has nearly died on a football field, and that the NFL appears to be urging everybody to just move on, that’s not football. That’s plantation behavior, and I care about that.

One of the things that Twitter did for me was pull into focus things I had never understood (and may still never TRULY understand, in that way) about the lives of Black folks in America. It did that both broadly—about many complex aspects of American society—and (yes) immediately, which gave me insights into patterns of injustice, hidden double binds, and the specific tragedies visited upon these communities.

It’s not my place to revisit why my non-Black, non-brown follows have come over here in greater and louder numbers than some of my closest friends. I think there are very good reasons for people who are targets of abuse to trust a centralized system when it’s operating more or less “correctly” (a very loose definition). But the entrenched channels of awareness that have not matured for me here have also not matured for any of those friends, and when your life depends on it, you lean in.

I’m glad to be following some new folks here, too, who are good at raising things up when they’re going sideways. I’ll have to adapt a bit in my expectations and learn to read differently, but I also want to point out that football may not mean exactly what we think it does, and you get shaken into that realization really quickly when a young man’s heart stops. It’s good to know when that’s happening, in real time, so the billionaire white guys know we’re watching.

Last thing: I am really grateful for the tone of the conversations I’ve seen here, and how people have approached them. I do appreciate the thoughtfulness. That is new, and feels like something to cherish.

@david this place is not ready yet and it's still caught in betwen trying to evolve and still trying to draw people. The mainstream is not even spending enough time here. Plus people are still not leaving Twitter so it doesn't help. I don't think it's fair to compare the two places. This place is not the mainstream!

@david As much as I want to leave Twitter, communal sharing of a real-time event in the real world is where Twitter truly shines.

@david I do see five of my trending topics focused on him, with similar condemnation of the NFL. So maybe it’s not that the sentiment is not here—it’s just grouped and found differently?

@david @hazelweakly first thing I saw waking up GMT+1 was talk about this on mastodon and I don't even care about NFL. I guess it's all about who you follow

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Mostly David Yees. Open to other interpretations in the future.