Rob Csernyik is a 2022 Michener-Deacon fellow and a contributing columnist for The Globe and Mail.
The recent past when using Twitter played a lucrative economic role in my career feels like a distant memory. For instance, in 2020, I tweeted a story idea out to my followers, expecting little. Instead, more than 400 people liked the post and among the comments was a message from a magazine editor. Using fewer than 280 characters, I secured a story commission for a national publication and a four-figure paycheque.
Recently, after a year of Elon Musk’s flights of fancy, the platform now called X doesn’t feel like the same place that steered me toward two long-term freelance gigs as well as one-off gigs that have made a material difference to my income. It’s not the same place where it felt like clever entrepreneurs could build their brand or profile as well as their business.
Instead, as the community and engagement my account once had slow to a trickle, I am also consistently tagged in the imaginary moneymaking schemes of crypto scammers. This fantasy is the most frequent “business opportunity” that I cross paths with there today.
A lot of long-term users have been quick to eulogize the worlds they built on the erstwhile Twitter, rushing to replicate them on similar apps. But filling voids of community and conversation is one thing, and replacing professional opportunities is another entirely.
That’s why I’m mourning the economic usefulness of Twitter, as the platform is still informally known. I can keep in touch with people in myriad ways, yet I can’t pull work out of thin air. The prospect of professional opportunities kept me logging in and without them, the appeal is gone.
Mr. Musk’s decisions, from the rushed revamp of the verification system to limits on what account holders can do without paying subscription fees, have been fickle and roundly criticized by users. They have also negatively affected his investment in the platform. Reuters recently reported that monthly U.S. ad revenue declined by more than half every