Something’s in the air, gang. Giant social media services have been getting more and more problematic for a long time now, but between Elon’s Twitter now circling the drain and Meta continuing to light piles of money on fire with one hand while desperately scrambling to copy ByteDance’s TikTok with the other, this moment in time is really feeling different.
To elaborate a bit more on this spot-on tweet:
Facebook: This is truly a rotting corpse, and a haven for the terminally incurious. If people that still attach Word docs to emails could be transformed into a social network, they’d look just like ol’ blue.
Twitter: Good night, sweet prince. You’ve always been the wild West, but your many, many problems aside, you can never be accused of having been boring.
Instagram: It’s truly become Diet Facebook, desperately scrambling to stay relevant while losing the feature bloat battle and any sense of focus. This thing is infested by MLMers, “influencers” (shudder) and people sharing screenshots of text since they don’t know where else to put them.
TikTok: CCP ties aside, it’s obviously the belle of the ball right now, but it’s in a different basket entirely as an algorithm-driven video delivery service (and bright stars never burn for long).
So where does this leave us? What comes next?
I think it’s helpful to first take a look at the past.
Fellow olds will recall the absolute powerhouse that was America Online in the early-mid ’90s. As the still-relatively-young World Wide Web grew alongside it and became the more compelling destination, AOL eventually cried “uncle” and we enjoyed a brief and lovely period in the early-’00s where independent communities and blogs began flourishing, as interested readers were able to easily follow along through RSS and other emerging ways to aggregate content, while publishers, creators and community builders operated independently on their own websites.