How Twitter’s platform has helped its users personally and professionally

For more than a decade, Twitter has been a digital marketplace of sorts, a place where people look for information, advocacy, community, and job opportunities—even love.

Following Elon Musk’s takeover as Twitter CEO, mass layoffs of thousands of employees followed by a wave of layoffs have left many worried about the future of the platform. Some former employees took to Twitter to post emotional goodbyes.

Many users followed suit and tweeted short eulogies for the platform. For some, like writer Dan Sheehan, building a platform on Twitter later enabled them to excel in their personal and professional lives.

Twitter has been an incubator for Sheehan’s comedy and writing since high school, even before he realized what it could become.

“I built this following, and that’s what got me some of my first job offers, just in copywriting. That’s how I paid my bills for a long time,” he says.

Writing lyrics allowed Sheehan to devote time to writing his novel, a project made possible in part through crowdfunding through his large Twitter following.

“The fact that I was able to leave the lights on, pay the bills while I was writing the book, and then have the book reach this audience of over 100,000 people directly would not have been possible through traditional means,” says he .

Sheehan credits Twitter’s level playing field with the emergence of new voices in various creative fields.

“So many people are allowed to be present in spaces where they otherwise wouldn’t have been allowed to be present,” says Sheehan.

“For the longest time, creative realms have been cornered by the rich, or the rich’s children… Twitter allowed you to build that audience that made you undeniable to the people who hold the keys to it.”

Twitter also helped Azucena Rasilla, an arts and community reporter for The Oakland sideto gain a platform and open a door into the journalism industry outside of traditional avenues.

“I don’t come from the pipeline of an Ivy League school or a journalism school, so I kind of had to find my own way,” she says.

“There’s not that much opportunity for brown reporters to get our names out there and get poached from publications.” Early in her career, Rasilla posted her work on Twitter, mostly music reviews, and eventually landed a job doing those reviews for a local TV station wrote. From there, her audience grew and she continued to receive job offers, which led her to her current job. Rasilla fears that future journalists will not have similar opportunities.

“It’s just unfortunate that the diversity issue continues and I don’t know how those communities are going to find themselves now…Twitter was such a way to see it right there and start following people and reading other people’s work.” ,” She says.

For others, Twitter’s reach went beyond career development—it was a vehicle for activism and finding community.

Wendi Muse, a graduate student with multiple sclerosis, has been an active member of Disability Twitter for years. She spent the pandemic posting resources to help people get masks and shipping some from the personal stash she had amassed. Earlier this year, she noticed a greater demand for reliable N95 masks in the immune-compromised community.

“I just said let me start fundraising and do it seriously, more dedicated and more organized.”

Soon after, she began raising funds and offering free N95 masks to her followers. The reaction was immediate.

“In all, it will be more than 12,000 masks that I have literally shipped out of my living room alone since January this year,” says Muse. She doesn’t think she could have reached so many people without her reach on Twitter.

“It was critical because it was a way to not only learn more about the pandemic, myself and my family, but also to reach out to other people who are less fortunate and may either not have the information or may not have the access [to these resources].”

For Muse and many others, the potential demise of Twitter would be a huge loss, even though alternative sites like Discord or Mastodon have seen an influx of new users lately.

“I know we’re trying to figure out what the next best thing will be. But right now we don’t know what that is,” she says.

“I think the discomfort of not knowing makes it more difficult, especially for people with disabilities, older people who may not have personal social networks right now.”

Although Twitter hasn’t completely collapsed yet, people have already sprung to other social media platforms, making the Twitter town square a little less crowded than it used to be.

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