A Love Letter to the Tickmark I never got


I’ve been on Twitter longer than I’ve been on any other social media platform. In fact, I’ve spent nearly 40% of my time alive on this planet on Twitter. When you spend that much of your life on a social media platform, it shapes you in countless ways. I truly couldn’t say how my life would have gone if I didn’t have my platform on Twitter. It’s where I met a lot of my best friends and went in and out of interests and groups. To put it simply,  my life moved through it in a lot of ways. Out of all of the tech places in the world where I wanted to work, I would have always told you about Twitter

On white whales and chasing dreams

When the verified Twitter badge made its debut, there was nothing more coveted on the platform. For journalism or even social media influencers, it was the biggest thing you could have to say: “I made it.”

Personally, It was a dream I often chased. I’ve been writing about and working in the technology space for as long as I’ve had that damn Twitter account. Yet, I was always just out of reach of verification. Never as popular as other colleagues who get their time in the spotlight, or never became the star of any major presentation, paper, or event. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not old by any means—rather, I’m a gen Z/Millienial hybrid who began working the moment the beat preverbally dropped on me getting access to the internet. But it was my white whale, something to continue to strive for. Especially in freelancing circles, friends and colleagues often rejoiced for each other should we be prominent enough to get the mark. It was an achievement, and sadly, for my friends, that specific moment in time is being taken away from us all. Across the board.

I no longer get to chase my white whale, and my friends have had something very important taken away from them—a lifetime of their work and success in their field will soon be erased. Decades of work. Life’s work. All flushed down under the guise of “fairness,” when, in reality, it’s just capitalism. It’s always capitalism. 


Some inside baseball for you tech nerds out there on the realities of freelancing in tech or gaming journalism. The more you can show you are a good writer who has written good work for several publications and has that verified badge for your work, the better prospect you are for editors or other people who have to make decisions about budget or pitches. That’s just the reality of the situation we’re in. I knew people who could vouch for my work. A lot of the tech people I know now are all folks who I met through Twitter, or are all people who were able to vouch for me because of my passion or my insight. While I did this without a verified badge, you can as well! But there was no doubt what a social safety net that badge cast around you. 

One of the things that Twitter facilitates in that double-edged sword that it yields is the pipeline from actions to consequences because it happens on Twitter exceptionally quickly. Those with verified badges were simply held to a higher standard than others. There are people who use other people’s badges as a way of trying to take them down a peg, but there are always bad apples on both sides. One can obtain verification while being a not-so-great person; I’m sure you can provide your own examples here. But what it did allow for is greater accountability on the part of those people to do better. I remember situations where, even though I was pretty young and inexperienced, I was still able to do what I thought was right and act on it. And because I did stand up and speak, I was able to advocate for some real change. In fact, there are plenty of times I’ve been able to stand there and do that. I don’t think I could have done that on any other platform. 

Smelling the Musk

Elon Musk’s influence on Twitter has been enormous since he took over the platform. There is no possible way to understate this man’s presence and impact. Will it be for the better? I don’t know. Normally, you can get a sense of the tide when it comes to platforms and apps. Things come in and out all the time, and user demographics and products change equally as often. But the one thing that Twitter had was community. Not in a Facebook, close-knit, neighbourhood watch kind of way. But in the “something cool has happened and we can all share in it” way.

There is little that compares to a surprise trailer being dropped, and watching the world react in real-time. The release of the Kingdom Hearts 4 trailer stands out as one of the most recent highlights, with people posting memes about what bits they found funny for a good week after the trailer dropped.

Or, when Markiplier simply pooped.

These natural interactions and engagements are what make Twitter a home and a hub for so many communities. There is no barrier to entry. There are no groups to join. No teams to pick. You can simply walk in and have the same experience as everyone else.

This is something that I don’t believe the version of Twitter that Elon is envisioning has any place in. I believe it is simply because there is no room for it in its model. I don’t believe it’s out of malice either. Right now, Elon is doing what is arguably the best thing business-practice-wise, which is for Twitter to generate profit and become economically viable. Changes like “Twitter Blue” make good business sense. But when you start putting prices on entry for basic things like 2FA, which are an overall tech positive, you’re going to kill off the heart of the place in the process. In a lot of ways, it’s a catch-22. Which do you do? Close up shop and cut the thing as a financial loss? Or try to see if you can salvage some revenue to keep the platform afloat and try to use a whales, dolphins, minnows, and freeloaders model? (Whales, Dolphins, Minnows, and Freeloaders is a power law that is frequently used in video games to describe free-to-play game players based on their spending habits. Power law determines that no two players are the same, and therefore people will be motivated to spend on different things or never be motivated to buy anything at all.)

Either way, you have to sacrifice something. Is it for the greater good that we get to still have our bubbles and our communities even if the priorities have changed and the goals have shifted? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and still don’t have a good answer. What I do believe, however, is that Elon is attempting to monetize the wrong things.

It’s trying to monetize the thing that would keep you on the platform, to begin with, and not force you to disengage with it. Pulling API access for third parties? Bad call. Not letting you have 2FA? Bad call.

There are numerous ways to package and “sell” a creator’s experience for Twitter that people would be willing to invest in, many of which are already available but need to be repackaged. Set up a course for Twitter basics where you get them acquainted with what kind of content works and how it is formatted. Reward paid customers for completing goals. Give them a badge that they can display on their account like a tick but that they can only display the more they post and produce. Guide them through the analytics that is already there. Offer paid 1-on-1 coaching sessions with a Twitter-verified data person to see how they can improve.

It’s a hard sell for any community to tell them that something they once had for free will now be behind a paywall without serious justification as to why. And most times, even when you have the why, people are still not going to be pleased about it.  

I don’t know where the road Elon is taking us will lead. But I can only hope for good things. And in the meantime, I need to find another dream to chase.

Specious Coda-Bishop
Staff Writer @phandroid | Top 5 Kingdom Hearts 3 Speedrunner | Twitch Affiliate | Xbox Ambassador

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