©Bill Watterson
©Bill Watterson

(I actually drafted this a couple months ago—was it that long?—when the news of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover first hit. And then I forgot to post it. But, it feels even more pertinent and timely today. This is the original article with a couple of minor tweaks.)

It feels like, almost overnight, the social web has fragmented into an infinite number of pieces.

Up until now, managing a few social networks—dabbling here and there to get a feel for quantity and quality of engagement—was interesting and sustainable.

But, now, quite suddenly, many of us are realizing we have to either expand our networks—or pull back.

The thought of expanding beyond Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook is daunting.

Discord? Mastodon? (Which servers?) And now Threads?

Where will we find our “people”? How do we know where to look and how will we know we’ve found a good spot once we get there?

The thought of pulling back is a bit of a reality-check.

Why do we even use these platforms anymore? They’re not what they were when we first started dabbling with them, are they?

What are we even doing here? Are we spending our precious time and headspace wisely? Are we having constructive, empowering, fulfilling conversations? Is it making the world a better place? Is it even making our own lives better? (Sometimes, sure—most of the time for most of us, almost certainly not.)

I think we know the answer to whether striking out to explore the vast new social media landscape or pulling back is the right way to go.

And, I suspect, for many, pulling back won’t mean investing more of our precious time and headspace in less platforms; it will lead to pulling back almost entirely—as we realize just how much time we have been wasting over the years scrolling, liking, commenting, sharing….

For what? Why? What is the point of it all?

Are we more connected? Are we more fulfilled? Are we less lonely? Are we contributing to growth in our “community” (however that is defined)? Are we growing in ourselves?

Are we making an impact and creating legacies?

I believe we need more meaningful interactions, above all else; not more connections. And certainly not more noise.

So, for me, I have recently found myself searching for smaller groups—more focused on common interests.

I’ve been dabbling with community-building tools like Circle, Geneva, and Mighty Networks—to explore whether we can build more focused, more meaningful, smaller groups for more focused conversations that help us on our individual and collective journeys.

I suspect, as a result of recent events, we will see a rapid acceleration of this regrouping—initially through fragmentation, and then, through consolidation, as we move away from quantity to richer quality. I hope.

What do you think? Where’s your virtual village square on the internet?

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