Starting tomorrow, my sleep schedule is going to be in complete disarray. The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20th, which means that I’ll be getting up very early — and staying up pretty late — in order to catch as much of it as I can. It’s an exciting moment because the women’s game has never been as popular as it is today, and the field for this year’s tournament truly feels wide open. There’s just one problem: I have no idea where to post about it.
For years, the answer was obvious. Twitter may not have been the global town square it aspired to be, but during live sporting events, it was pretty darn close. World Cups, the Olympics, and the NBA Finals turned into two-screen experiences. While you watched the drama unfold on your television, you kept refreshing Twitter to see the jokes, highlights, and clever observations roll in in real time.
For people sitting at home instead of being there in person, it made these events into communal experiences. Sure, I may not have been able to go to Russia in 2018 to see France win, but I could still subject people to my terrible jokes (and be constantly reminded that it’s called football, not soccer, while making them). Even last year, during a particularly controversial men’s World Cup in Qatar, my feed was still alive with people enjoying the spectacle and human drama of it all.
This isn’t just true of sports. Twitter has become an important live feed during all kinds of events; it’s really not the same watching a surprise-filled Nintendo Direct or struggling through a very long Apple event without all my friends (and others) having a fun time posting about it. Imagine seeing The Slap and not rushing to see what people were saying about it on the internet. Twitter might want to replace some of the functions of TV, but it’s really an accessory.
Photo by Christian Liewig / Corbis via Getty Images
Now, for the first time since I’ve become a capital p Poster, I’m not actually sure what to do. Twitter’s slow and steady decline has meant that, for me personally, I use it sparingly — and pretty much only for work purposes. The vibes are bad. For the most part, this has been a welcome development; turns out things like paying attention to movies or being a good parent are actually easier when you don’t have a phone in your hand. Who knew?
I’ve sort of moved over to Threads, but I don’t post much right now. The algorithmic feed means that I don’t always see what I’m looking for and have no idea if anyone sees my posts, so I often forget the app exists at all. This is especially bad for a big live event like the World Cup. If I’m logging on after Sam Kerr scores a wild goal, I want to see other people who are excited about it, too. Right now, there’s no way to do that on Threads. If I go on there during the Australia vs. Ireland match in the morning, chances are I’ll just see the same three meme accounts posting about iced coffee rather than anyone else watching the game.
And sure, I could always just, you know, stay off my phone and enjoy the game. Like I said, that has been a positive development for many things in my life. But in the case of these kinds of large, global, live events, having a feed of smart, clever, and funny people isn’t distracting — it makes them better. And if I’m getting up at 3AM to watch a match, I definitely want that feed so I know I’m not alone.https://hactic.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/index.html