A US Gov public domain photo of fireworks against the night sky

In the run up to the US presidential elections of 2016, the country looked set to lose a sizeable portion of its population. Countless millions of US citizens, outraged at the prospect of DT in the White House, had pledged to pack their bags, sell their houses, and head north across the Canadian border to take up permanent residence in the land of maple syrup and polar bears.

“My new home,” tweeted Snoop Dogg alongside a snap of the Toronto skyline.

“I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will. I know a lovely place in Vancouver,” blasted Lena Dunham, creator and star of the HBO television series Girls.

Neve Campbell - an honest-to-God actual Canadian swore that she would move back home.

Some celebrities had other destinations in mind: Spain, South Africa, while others, like Cher and Jon Stewart, considered an off-planet location.

The ice world of Hoth from Star Wars

The ice world of Hoth would make a suitable substitute for Canada

You will have probably noticed that the nation is just as crowded as ever, and the California entertainment scene lost no-one of any importance after the 42nd president took office.

Some Americans did head north, but the number of US citizens applying for permanent residence in Canada increased a tiny amount - from 2,497 in 2016 to 2,523 in 2017. According to The Crow’s mental arithmetic, that’s 26 extra people.

Americans like the US just fine.

The most discussed tech story in the last month has been Elon Musk’s upcoming takeover of Twitter. It’s a constantly evolving saga of casual musings, share acquisition, poison pills, ridiculous money, bots, and disappointment. At the time of writing, the latest twist has been Mr Musk attempting to back out of, or renegotiate the deal, unless the company provides public proof that less than 5% of its accounts are bots.

The one constant has been excited editorials on the imminent evacuation of users if the richest man on earth completes the deal.

Unlike the hysteria surrounding the presidential election of 2016, the Twitter evacuation appears to be real - at least on a superficial level.

Jameela Jamil tweeted on April 25th that, “One good thing about Elon buying twitter is that I will FINALLY leave and stop being a complete menace to society on here. So it’s win win for you all really.”

And with one final blast speculating on Twitter’s future degeneration into, “totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny”, the ‘Good Place’ actor was gone. It’s now nearly a month later, and she still isn’t back.

A few days later, it was reported that left-leaning accounts were losing followers by the bucket-load as account owners fled Twitter.

Barrack Obama lost 300,000 followers, While Katy Perry lost 200,000.

Moving to Canada is difficult and involves uprooting your entire life. It means leaving behind friends and relations and places you’ve known. Leaving Twitter is easy - it’s a four step process, and the company even provides a handy help page to guide you through the process.

Even so, the actual number of users leaving Twitter is minuscule compared to the almost half billion users who are staying, and the fresh additions who arrive hoping for loose moderation and free speech. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s official congressional Twitter account, for instance, gained 100,000 in just 24 hours.

Many celebrities who announced their imminent departure to new pastures, still seem to be hanging around as if nothing happened.

Activist, Shaun King reportedly deleted his account in protest at Musk’s “White Power” move, however it reappeared not long after.

Other celebrities have made vague statements of intent but not followed through.

Canada is a real place. You may never have been there or even met a Canadian, but few can doubt that it is a genuine location with cities, infrastructure, borders, politicians, and criminals - just like any other country. To move to Canada is a valid choice - you can live in a similar property, vote in similar elections, and be subject to similar laws.

Canadian mountie

Laws enforced by this guy | Credit: HordeFTL Public Domain

For Twitter users, that choice isn’t there, regardless how unpalatable they find the leadership to be and how onerous or otherwise they believe the rules to be.

Twitter is an almost unique phenomenon in the digital world and there are no real alternatives where you can engage with any of the countless millions of individuals on the same network.

There is no country next door for Twitter users, and if they pack their virtual bags and decide to head North, they’ll find no kingdom or republic willing to accept them - only floating island micro-states in the form of niche social networks such Mastodon, and other Fediverse servers. These are great services and are much loved by their denizens, most of whom (including The Crow) are more than happy with the small-town community feel of their digital outposts.

For the vast majority of Twitter users, these aren’t an option, and unless they plan on divorcing themselves entirely from the the digital discourse to live on their own island in the federated sea, they’re going to stay exactly where they are.

Featured image remix based on DonkeyHotey CC BY 2.0