The future of Planet Prentonia
As long-term readers know, Planet Prentonia has always been a very intimate project for me. The mission has been inexorably tethered to my own personal ups and downs – from its zenith amid my days as a freelance journalist, through its nadir during my mental breakdown, and on to a tentative resurrection these past few years. Well, my life continues to evolve, shaping my outlook and ethos accordingly, and that necessitates a discussion about Planet Prentonia and an update on its future.
In short, Planet Prentonia is over as a social media project. Personally, I’m largely done with social media as a whole. It has become a pay-to-play hellscape ruled by plutocratic algorithms, and the innocent fun has been submerged by polarised point-scoring. Social media gave me some tremendous opportunities, but such benefits are now outweighed by the implicit consequences of being on the platforms – abuse, anger, anxiety and agitation.
In particular, Twitter – once the very lifeblood of Planet Prentonia – has devolved into a menacing shitshow since its recent ownership change. The fact I have tweeted just once from the @PlanetPrentonia account in the past seven months is not coincidental. Twitter is no longer a place I enjoy spending time, and so I do not – hence the lack of recent activity from Planet Prentonia.
Indeed, I have greatly reduced my online presence in recent years, even removing social media apps from my phone in a bid for salvaged sanity. However, rather than leaving a ghostly, mysterious void, the time has come to formalise my digital minimalism. The time has come to retire the digital personas that no longer serve me. The time has come to bring Planet Prentonia in line with my current spiritual energy – that of an introverted recluse, not a deluded side-hustle influencer.
Ultimately, I have grown up a lot these past few years. Even since publishing the Planet Prentonia book in 2019. Even since writing this piece on the interplay between football fandom and maturity in 2020. Even since the saddening demise of Micky Mellon, whose rise and fall in the Tranmere dugout matched the wild oscillation of Planet Prentonia. As kooky as it sounds, I have been on a deep personal growth journey over the past half-decade, and the accoutrements of social media – followers, exposure, traffic – no longer affect my strengthened self-worth.
When Planet Prentonia launched in 2015, I was 21-years-old. You feel invincible at that age – omniscient and omnipotent – but the recognition I gained masked emotional immaturity. Planet Prentonia became a runaway success that demanded serious upkeep, and I played the game for a while, smitten by the notion of creating something bigger than myself. However, that impulse faded as I grew as a person. It died entirely when I ceased relying on the internet – on code and pixels and websites and metrics – to make me happy.
Now, here in 2023, I’m almost 29-years-old. There are very few things I still do that I did when I was 21. That is a good thing. That is a sign of genuine growth. And, just as I no longer drink alcohol or wake up in cold sweats thinking about that harrowing defeat to Welling United, I no longer have an urge to post on social media. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m a grumpy traditionalist who refuses to move with the times. Maybe I’m just tired. Whatever the reason, I’m done encouraging tech bro billionaires to ransack the human attention span while profiting from free content created by working class minnows. I’m done self-promoting – the greatest sickness of our age. And I’m done with social media, whose era has been and gone.
So, what will change? Well, the Planet Prentonia accounts on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube will be mothballed. I will keep them up for posterity, so you can take an occasional trip down memory lane, but they will no longer be updated. Not even with links to new articles I publish. Meanwhile, the Planet Prentonia Facebook page will soon be deleted entirely. It has fallen into sorry disrepair – diminished aesthetically by copyright takedowns from sprawling corporations who crush not-for-profit bloggers – so laying it to rest will be a big relief.
Sadly, the algorithms that now rule these platforms prioritise viral shortform videos and sensationalist clickbait over heartfelt content from small-time creatives. Mustering the energy to game that system contradicts the founding mission of Planet Prentonia – to tell the untold stories of Tranmere Rovers lore – so I will no longer participate in the rat race. Planet Prentonia was always about the writing. Our writing, not the sloppy newswire copy of ignorant Liverpool and Everton fans asked to pull double duty by slapdash publications. That will never change. My words are never going away.
Indeed, Planet Prentonia will continue to exists as a blog. I will always need a creative outlet to express my Tranmere angst – somewhere to vent my spleen about Joel Mumbongo hitting a barndoor with a banjo – and Planet Prentonia is it. Moving forward, Planet Prentonia will continue to live in its own section here on ryanferguson.co.uk, which will be the only place I publish new content online. I will focus on building my own platform rather than renting from Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. All visits to planetprentonia.com will still redirect to the blog, and the archives remain untouched. Not a whole lot will change in that regard, so be sure to bookmark the blog and pop by occasionally.
I cannot promise any kind of regular content, but I will always write about Tranmere Rovers – whenever the muse visits, and whenever the inspiration takes hold. I have become increasingly apathetic about the club in recent seasons, and there has not been a lot to get excited about. However, if you cut me open, I bleed white and blue, and that will never change. Something will pique my interest or rattle my cage, and I will type furiously at my keyboard. The only difference is that I will no longer promote the resultant articles on social media. They will exist in their own right, as standalone figments of my imagination, rather than becoming grist for the attention economy mill, chasing ephemeral virality like everything else.
Sure, I could have just abandoned the Planet Prentonia social media accounts and left digital tumbleweeds where once we shared photos of Pelé asking Ian Goodison for a selfie. I could have just disappeared into the digital graveyard of bygone Tranmere websites, never to be seen again. But I owe it to all the people who have supported me since the start of this journey to keep them in the loop. I might be turning off the social media lights, but I’m at least hanging a cardboard sign in the window. That closure will probably do us all good, and it may even encourage new voices to emerge in the Tranmere social media landscape.
All is not lost, though. There is a way of keeping up-to-date with all my writing. If you enjoy my work, please consider subscribing to my free email newsletter. It is not one of those spammy advertising dumps you see from self-proclaimed ‘marketing gurus.’ I promise. Subscribers receive my writing straight to their inbox once per week. No idiotic sales pitches. No tailored advertising. No corporate bullshit. Just my writing. It would be great to have as many old school Planet Prentonia followers sign up as possible, and my sporadic Tranmere musings may one day brighten up your otherwise hellish inbox.
To that end, the decision to place Planet Prentonia on indefinite social media hiatus is no reflection on the wonderful people who have followed and interacted with the accounts since they were created. The memories we shared and the debates we had were always in good spirit, but I’m no longer the straw to stir that drink. In truth, I never really was. I’m an introverted writer, and I was never cut out to make flashy social media content. I’m proud of what we built – the community and the camaraderie – but we do not need Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to nurture that. The writing is what matters, and that is going nowhere.
Of course, there is an alternate universe in which Planet Prentonia keeps up with the current trends. A universe replete with Planet Prentonia TikToks and podcast episodes, YouTube streams and perhaps even a pub. I’m simply not the guy to make that happen. If the club or supporters’ trust wants to take control of the Planet Prentonia social media channels and leverage them towards the communal benefit of Rovers fans, they are welcome to get in touch. Otherwise, I will leave them broadly as they are – time capsules of a golden age.
I have put this piece off for quite a while, trying to find the correct arrangement and the right words. Ultimately, though, it feels good to be transparent with you, the audience that helped me come of age. It feels cathartic to peel back the layers of rhetoric and shed the pretence of Planet Prentonia as a social media brand. It feels like a weight lifted from my shoulders, to be quite honest, and that is why I know the timing is right. That is why I’m content with this decision and excited about the future. Thanks again for all your kind words and continued interest – it is truly humbling. Oh, and there are only a few weeks until the fixtures come out. True love never dies.