On the continuing contraction of my social media

My Facebook and Instagram accounts have been closed for some time now, and while I occasionally miss Instagram a little bit, I find I haven’t missed Facebook at all, and I think at this point it’s probably fair to say that I’m not going to be reactivating that account ever again. And I find myself looking around at the rest of my accounts and trying to figure out what could go next.

I gotta be honest; I’m starting to think about losing Twitter and TikTok. I’ve pretty much stopped posting on TikTok; maybe a video a week at most, and the site mostly exists as a time sink for me now. I could, I suppose, completely rework how I use it– the good thing about TikTok is the way the site celebrates enthusiasm of all kinds, so if I went through and made sure I was just following the woodworking and bookmaking and cooking and BookTok and other maker types of accounts, I could probably keep it up for longer, but right now it’s not really doing anything for me other than giving me something to stare at, and the way the site’s moderation works even without any regular posting it’s only a matter of time before they decide to ban me for no fucking reason at all.

And Twitter … man, I’m really split on Twitter. On the one hand, it’s my main source of news, and one of the really big ways I discover new books nowadays. On the other hand, it’s my main source of news, and the news is constantly horrible all the time and evil has won. I have a number of people I interact with over there who I really like, but they’re all parasocial relationships with people who probably wouldn’t actually miss me much if I disappeared from the site and a fair number of them show up here or on YouTube anyway. (YouTube is not currently in danger, for the record.)

But … God, I need to get the despair under control lately, and I really am starting to think that Twitter is an overall drag on my mental health. But it has some utility to me beyond just being a time sink, and for that reason I’m not nearly as likely to decide to get rid of it. I just need to find a way to get the horror aspects of the site under control, as it’s become perfectly clear lately that I am never going to be able to block my way out of the bullshit. My blocklist is in the mid-five-figures right now and there’s still just an endless torrent of bullshit every single day. Just today alone I found out that Joyce Carol Oates, Letitia Wright, and Tim Burton were massive assholes, and, like, I don’t need this shit.

(Also up for debate: is Twitter what’s causing a decline in my mental health, or is it the state of the fucking world, and it’s just Twitter taking the brunt of that? Or both? There’s no reason it can’t be both.)

(Like, it’s not Twitter’s fault that the Republicans are literally going to tank the world economy less than a month after I decided to take retirement investments seriously. But Twitter is how I’m hearing about all this shit so it’s taking the blame.)

I dunno. I’m not doing anything anytime soon, but I’m starting to think about it in a more serious fashion than I have in the past.

On the current state of my social media

I don’t know how necessary this post really is, but it’s been knocking around in my head for a week or two now and I haven’t written it yet, so screw it, let’s go. Here’s where I am across the Web and how those accounts are doing:

  • The blog, infinitefreetime.com itself. I’ve been here almost ten years and I’m going nowhere. Traffic is way down from last year but still getting about 100 hits a day. WordPress also tells me it sends out about 10,000 emails every time I post, but I don’t know if it actually counts if those people read the post in their browsers (I kinda doubt it) and I don’t know how many of those accounts are actually alive; I feel like that should turn into way more than 100 hits per day if they’re real. I will keep yammering into this space until the internet itself shuts down.
  • Twitter, @nfinitefreetime. 10,597 followers, a number that drops by a few every day for no clear reason but who appear to be actual live accounts. Twitter has all sorts of problems but I love it, and it provides an outlet for Politics Luther, which keeps him away from the blog most of the time and (much more importantly) keeps him from ranting at my wife all the Goddamned time. All of my old tricks for gaining followers stopped working right after I hit 10K on this account and nothing I’ve been able to do since then (and that was a couple of years ago now) has really moved the needle much.
  • TikTok, @lutherteachesmath. As of this exact second, 7,744 followers, a number that continues to creep upward slowly despite the fact that I’m not posting too often. I keep almost killing this account, because I don’t trust TikTok as an entity at all– I’ve known too many creators who had their accounts suddenly permabanned for no fucking reason at all to be willing to think of this site as anything more than a flash in the pan that’ll be gone in a few years. This is, for those of you who care about such things, the first time I’ve linked to my TikTok from the blog since I took my real name out of it. I figure the issue isn’t people going from here to there isn’t an issue; what I don’t want is people going from there to here, which is why the word “Siler” appears nowhere on the TikTok.
  • Goodreads, right here. I have 722 “friends” and 110 “followers” on the site, but to be honest I really don’t use Goodreads as a social media site at all; I use it as an online database to keep track of my various reading projects. I approve every friend request I’m sent and don’t interact with other people there at all unless I know them from somewhere else. That said, if you want to see what I’m reading and the other half-dozen ways I have available to do it don’t work for you, I’m probably not going anywhere anytime soon from here either.
  • YouTube, lutherplaysgames.com. Currently 22 subscribers and also currently absorbing more of my mental energy than any other site I use. I am going to have to dial back how often I’m posting once school starts but I’m having a hell of a lot of fun with it right now. I know I’ve been yammering about it a lot lately but you really should come say hello.
  • Patreon, right here. Currently sixteen very patient Patrons; this site is all but defunct and I haven’t charged my Patrons in forever. I should probably just shut it down but I feel like everyone who is still supporting me deserves a free book if I ever write another one (Click doesn’t count, because that’s a reward for the $2 level and everyone got one when I made it available anyway) and I’m just trying to remember to cancel billing every month until that actually happens.

I have permanently shut down my Facebook account and haven’t missed it, and along with that I also shut down my Instagram account, which I admit I do kind of miss. If anybody wants to recommend a photo-posting site other than Insta or Snapchat, feel free, especially anything Facebook doesn’t own. I’m pretty sure I haven’t missed anything I currently have an account on, or at least anything I’m paying attention to. Any fun communities out there I should be a part of? Go follow me on everything that exists!

On subscriptions and social media

I don’t seem to have actually made an announcement when I ditched my Facebook and Instagram accounts, so I’m not actually too sure how long it’s been since they went away, but a month seems reasonable. It might have been more than that, I dunno. And while I’m not going to subject you to a lengthy blogwanking post with, like, any charts or anything like that, April and May’s traffic was … bad. Real bad. If I was the type of guy who was interested in, like, science and testing assumptions and shit I’d turn the account back on and just not interact with it at all and see if traffic goes up at all …

… but then, summer is starting, and traffic always goes up in summer anyway …

… and Facebook is fucking evil …

… and I do actually miss some people who I basically only got to interact with through Facebook, but it’s not like everyone who wants to talk to me doesn’t know exactly where to find me.

Blech.


You might remember me talking about my first Winston Box a couple of months (an actual couple of months, as my frequency for boxes was “every two months”) ago, and deciding that I was going to keep it going for one more box. I have, and it has arrived, and I am now done. First, the second Winston Box was a bag, not a box– the type of plastic packaging that Amazon sends clothes in– and God damn it the unboxing is half the fun, and if you’re called the Winston Box and you’re not sending your clothes in a box something has gone ridiculously wrong. I dunno, it’s probably petty, but it aggravated me.

Anyway, once I opened the bag, I found 1) another bland t-shirt with a graphic on it; it’s fine (I’m wearing it now), 2) a three-button, short-sleeve, collarless burgundy shirt that I was about to declare a win until I saw the weird striped cuffs on the sleeves, which I hated a lot, and 3) a pair of shorts that, from the material, I initially thought was a bathing suit, only it was just a pair of shorts and not a bathing suit, and a pair of shorts without pockets at that. I suppose it’s possible that it’s a bathing suit and just doesn’t have a liner, because I know they do that nowadays? Either way I’m not wearing them, which means this box had one thing I was neutral on and two things I actively dislike, and that’s enough to cause me to bring this experiment to a close.

In which I fight evil

It was a good day. It was a stressful day– I was fully expecting someone to die somewhere because of the inauguration, and I may have more thoughts on it later. But it appears that everything went off without any violence, and the right-wing goon squad seems to have dried up and blown away without the Asshole encouraging them on Twitter. Hopefully it will stay that way.

I had a Thing happen, though, unrelated to the inauguration, and if you don’t mind I’m just going to embed a bunch of Tweets because I’d tell the story the same way here anyway.

(These appear to have embedded obnoxiously, which I apologize for, but hopefully a single click will take you straight to Twitter, where you can read these and view the images in native format.)

What particularly annoys me about this is that when I’m daydreaming about winning the lottery, the specific way in which I fantasize about being ultra-rich is that I want to set up a charitable foundation, and part of the way I want to use the funds for my charitable foundation is by flitting around the Internet and randomly and anonymously completely fulfilling people who post GoFundMes and various and sundry other “I’m getting evicted, please send me money” types of things. And I can imagine a world where I might actually just do a Twitter search for “credit card debt,” and then ask for Venmo addresses so I can send folks money. So I decided to take this seriously until it proved to be a scam (which was what I expected) or I somehow got $3K from the money fairy on Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, which trust me, was about to be taken as an omen.

Instead, hopefully I got to ruin a scammer’s day. I mean, probably not, but I hope at least BoA zaps that account and Twitter bans Annette. Either way, all in a day’s work, I guess.

Scam alert update

It has been pointed out to me that the suspect checkout interface I pointed out yesterday is apparently the base checkout screen for the Shopify platform, and I had a couple of people show me legit websites that they’ve used repeatedly that use that platform. I’m going to slightly back off and modify my claim from yesterday, from a flat “avoid” to a “back out and do some research.” I’m also going to echo Elisabeth’s comment from yesterday that another thing these shitty sites have in common is Facebook and Instagram ads. You’re probably all familiar with this phenomenon; you click on one ad, sometimes by accident, or sometimes just linger over one too long and suddenly you have ads featuring the exact same pictures from several different sites.

I have a policy now; if I recognize a photo of a piece of merchandise from another ad, I start reporting every single ad where I see that photo as a scam. I have threatened to do this before and not followed through, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been to shutting down both Facebook and Instagram for good. I have here, TikTok and Twitter; that really ought to be enough social media for everyone.

Not much else going on today, but I thought I’d point all that out.