Twitter, Blogging, Sparks, Connections

The other day I tweaked the homepage of this site. The complex years-long relationship I have with this site means that I feel weird, anxious even, to call it what it is—a blog—but it is a blog and has remained a blog even when I’m not blogging.

After tweaking the homepage, I dove into some of my older posts and clicked on links, a fair amount of which are dead and lead to 404 pages, even across on this site. (I never properly redirected links from to when I’d changed my domain name.) Links to many other blogs and websites I used to read and reference often, like my friend Miranda’s old blog,, no longer exist. Nick’s previous blogs, at and, have also been taken down. I also scrolled old comment threads and recognized the usernames of so many bloggers and strangers I used to interact with often; I spotted names of travel writers-turned-acquaintances and friends everywhere, like Mike and Spencer and Miss Lai Lai and Jodi and Sharon and many others.

With the bird site continuing to implode and people finding new corners of the internet at Substack and Threads and Mastodon and other platforms, I wonder where everyone has gone. What new spaces have been established. If those spaces have actually recreated the ’00s magic of blogs and other online communities, or whether most attempts have fallen flat.

For someone who left nearly all social media over the past five years, where do I find these people? Truly connect like before—before we expected others to reciprocate, before we were obsessed with content and engagement and growth? Do I want to reconnect with everyone again? Am I looking for individuals, or am I longing instead for those sparks that ignited when individuals were tossed randomly and organically into the same space at the same time? It brings me some comfort thinking about recreating all of that, but I also know that I fall into those nostalgic traps in which I wish for something familiar, something golden, something from a better time. (Read: my 1997 category.)

A few weeks ago, Geraldine DeRuiter at The Everywhereist wrote about Twitter:

I’m one of the luckiest people in the world, and Twitter played a crucial role. But when I look back through it, I find the fossils of my youth, the years when I was all potential. Here, from the other side of my accomplishments, I find myself wishing for that world, one full of uncertainty and newness, when everything was still in front of me.

26 to 43 is an immense journey; mine is charted on a single social media platform.

Twitter was not just a tool we used in our careers, but a scrapbook for our lives. My friend announced his son’s birth. I shared news of my brain tumor and impending surgery. I’ve seen engagements, and weddings, and funerals announced. Lives lived, in an endless stream. We shared news events, we celebrated and grieved together, we watched as the world slowly slipped into something ugly (or perhaps the ugliness was always there, and some of us were just becoming aware of it) and some of us tried to rally against it. And some of us just tweeted, and thought that was enough.

Shortly after Musk took over Twitter, I got locked out of my @cherilucas account. Support was useless, as you can imagine, and I gave up trying to regain access. Luckily I’d tweaked my bio there before that happened; perhaps clairvoyant, I wrote “Not checking Twitter anymore.” I haven’t paid much attention to what’s been happening since, although I read about the X rebrand this week. While I’ve received so many professional opportunities and networked with Really Important People across media over the years, I was not as invested in and deeply enmeshed in the fabric of Twitter in the way that Geraldine or other writer/journalist-friends were/are. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand what’s been lost.

I “met” and exchanged my first real-time messages with my future husband, a Cairo-based travel writer, on Twitter. We became familiar with each other on Twitter. I used to stare at his old avatar—his face framed in blue cloth—and tried to imagine his face animated and moving and talking, wondering who he was. If he was cute in person. Or whether I’d like him.

So despite the circus and chaos around all things Twitter these days, and even though I feel disconnected and mostly apathetic from it all, I genuinely feel sad as these pages turn. Because I, too, benefitted from Twitter, especially when I’d joined 15 years ago. And it inspired me in countless ways. I sadly don’t have a record of some of those early tweets received and sent between me and Nick, or between me and other people I ended up meeting and becoming friends with in real life, or between me and editors and future colleagues who reached out to me when they read something I wrote that moved them. But at least this blog has stayed mostly intact, and fortunately with many old conversations preserved. There were so many times that I nearly deleted it.

With my short and loosely curated list of folks I’m following via, I’m currently getting a small dose of local news and random chatter each day, and also rediscovering blogs that I used to read and visit specifically, pre-Twitter stream. (It’s been nice, for instance, to look through the archives of Christopher Butler.) I’m not at the point of recreating an old-fashioned blogroll and visiting individual blogs each day to see what people have posted, and perhaps will never be, but I’ve been experimenting with more intentional web browsing and visiting specific sites that pop into my head. It feels strange in some ways, but also refreshing in that each visit feels like a finite task—I close the browser tab when I’m done, and then if I want to keep exploring, I’ll search for something specific, whether related or unrelated. (I’m beginning to understand the concept of a digital garden more and more.)

In a way, I now control the direction and depth of my rabbit hole.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

3 thoughts on “Twitter, Blogging, Sparks, Connections

  1. I for one, am very glad to see your posts pop up in my email. For the life of me, I can’t quite remember why I subscribed in the first place – whatever the reason, it was right at the time and it’s still right 😉

    I’m not as active here (or anywhere for that matter) as I was earlier and wonder where my own path is going. I’m rebuilding my business blog and the personal one is stagnant currently. Just waiting for the spark.

    1. I no longer know who actually reads my posts after being mostly dormant for years! Thanks for (still) reading and replying, and all the best on rebuilding your business site—and waiting for that next spark 🙂

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