Though it's always good to see someone free themselves from the shackles of social media, today's notable escape attempt is bittersweet. After just recently establishing a Patreon, prolific videogame news hound Nibel has decided to pack it all in.
A trip to Nibel's feed used to be part of my daily routine back when I was PC Gamer's news editor, and their constant stream of videogame titbits has been keeping Twitter users informed for years. Twitter is no place for original reporting, but Nibel's sharing of stories, accompanied by headlines and sometimes bullet points, proved to be just as valuable, turning their feed into a repository for the day's biggest stories.
You've probably seen plenty of hat tips to Nibel in our own articles, and you'd be hard pressed to find a site that hasn't benefited from their speedy sharing of news. A successful Twitter account doesn't usually translate into real-world success, however, and despite building a following of nearly 500,000, Nibel hasn't found a way to make it sustainable.
"Unfortunately, I was not able to create an interesting and sustainable Patreon which is evident in the number of Patrons stagnating during the first weekend and the first (of many) pledges being deleted during the first week," the farewell post on Patreon reads. "I have miscalculated the value of my Twitter activity and realize that it is nothing worth supporting by itself for the vast majority of people. It is not me who is popular, but it is the work that is useful. It is not valuable by itself, but a comfortable timesaver, and I get that now."
What Nibel did was no simple thing, as evidenced by the many other Twitter accounts that you've never heard of sharing news. Being consistently on top of all the big stories, and knowing how to frame them and tease out the most important details, is a skill Nibel has that a lot of the people running news sharing accounts don't. But it's hard to get people to pay for something they're already getting for free.
Nibel undersells their value in their introspective post, but I agree that the main value of the account was that it was a "comfortable timesaver". Nibel created an extremely convenient resource, particularly for those just wanting the headlines, and signing up for Patreons, joining Discord servers and all these extra things are not convenient.
I can empathise, and I suspect anyone working in journalism can. Even the most invaluable reporting is often not seen as worth paying for, and this has only become a bigger issue since the decline of newspapers and magazines. You can get all your news online for free. But while websites can rely on ad revenue, affiliate links and sponsored content, that's not really an option for a Twitter account that shares news.
Nibel's final tweet reads: "After some introspection, I've made the decision to focus my time and energy elsewhere and move on from Twitter. This marks the end of my video games coverage and my active participation in this platform. Thanks to everybody for the fun times!"
Even though I stopped posting on Twitter back in July, I continue to browse it for work, and it will be weird not seeing Nibel's news gracing my feed anymore. Even though they've posted their last tweet, I can't quite bring myself to unfollow them—the account is basically an institution.