[OPINION] Social media platform X (formerly Twitter) is moving to disable Circles, a feature that allowed users to Tweet to a smaller crowd without changing accounts. And as a K-Pop stan, I’m mourning.
Among the many features that did not make it to the new version of Twitter helmed by Elon Musk, X, Circles is one that I will miss the most. Introduced in August 2022, Circles is a feature that allowed you to choose a certain set of people on the platform to show certain Tweets/posts to. When you select “Circles” when making a Tweet or a post, whatever you said is shown only to people you put in your Circles. It’s basically a private or dump account built into your account whether it’s public or not.
X recently announced that they’ll be getting rid of the feature by October 31st, and as someone with far too many X accounts to want another one where I can share my thoughts that aren’t for the entirety of my followers list, I will mourn this loss. Call me dramatic, but it really did improve my Twitter/X experience as a part of K-pop fandoms over the past year.
THE CIRCLE COMMUNITY
If you’re on “stan Twitter” or any online fandom community, then you know that your follower and following lists are not necessarily made up of people you know (or like). And if you’re an account with, say, thousands of followers, you don’t really want all your thoughts broadcast to all of them. It’s the same logic that essentially explains why we have main accounts and “dump” or private accounts on different social media platforms.
Circles allowed me to be freer in expressing my thoughts, less “perceived” by a bigger number of people. I was also able to just address the people I’ve actually formed a bond with and considered my friends without having to create a new private account. On Circles I’ve shared real-life achievements, anecdotes, interactions, and even secrets with only the people I trusted enough.
And it feels great on the other side, as well. When I see that I’m on someone’s Circle, I feel somehow proud and flattered that they trust me enough to see their thoughts and opinions that they otherwise wouldn’t let anyone else see. There’s a whole discussion to be had about the kind of faces we show on social media and why, but these little signs of trust are proof that genuine connections can be made on the Internet.
PEACE AND QUIET
If you’ve ever been on stan Twitter (specifically K-pop stan Twitter), or seen a side of it, then you know how nasty, mean-spirited, and confrontational people can get—sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. If one post reaches the wrong audience, if a message is taken just a little differently than intended, and you could have hundreds of quotes on your post, or worse.
On Circles, I was able to express my disdain or opinion about something without the worry that I’d get jumped, because the people in my Circle were of similar mindsets. Not just that, but there’s a sense of respect. I may not agree with what you’re saying, but because we’re “close” enough to be in one or the other’s Circle, there’s a certain level of respect.
Not to say that Circles—or any private accounts for that matter—is any excuse to be mean or hateful, but sometimes you just have an opinion and you don’t have the energy to be locked in petty debate with strangers on the Internet.
There are pros and cons to a public X account, but this specific stan Twitter account of mine was always meant to be public. So I couldn’t just turn it private. And as I’ve said, I didn’t want to create yet another X account.
Circles gave me an outlet to be more “real,” in a sense, and its removal really got me to thinking: what about social media has exacerbated our fear of confrontation and discourse? How are we practicing or even defining authenticity on the Internet? Are these features (Circles, private dump accounts, etc.) just safety nets so we don’t have to deal with a world that doesn’t like or agree with us all the time? Is it really that deep? Someone call a scholar!
I don’t know—maybe I’ll find out once Circles is taken away from me. I was fine before it, but now that I’ve found out its potential, I’ll have to adjust.
I can’t be a hater in public! If I get jumped because I published a hot take for the world to see (because doesn’t the urge to speak sometimes overwhelm the urge to stay quiet, for better or for worse?), I’ll let you know.
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