I remember when all this was chat rooms, bulletin boards and Geocities, when folks would go to a paper’s website to spend half an hour or so getting caught up on the news, and the idea of using our phones for more than calls or texts was years away.. Then social media came along and gobbled everything up. And now, it seems, it’s vomiting all over itself.
Elon Musk is destroying Twitter — or, at least, everything about it that was worth anything. Meta, which used to be known as Facebook, has finally acknowledged its essential uselessness by “giving up” on news and laying off 11,000 humans.
Is it possible that we are at the end of the Social Media Age? Lord I hope so.
I am pretty sure it used to be fun. I was an early adopter to social media — I still have a MySpace page out there somewhere, relegated to the internet garbage heap along with my Earthlink email address and a couple thousand articles and columns I wrote between 2002-13.
I liked MySpace because it gave me a opportunity to catch up with people from my past, which was a lot more difficult even 15 years ago than it was today. But I guess I never really “got it” in that I never rigged my page to play music when people came to it and I did not yet know what emojis were.
Rupert Murdoch ruined MySpace just by buying it, because by the time someone like Rupert Murdoch finds out about something, it is no longer cool.
Facebook opened to the general public — basically people who had aged out of the college demographic, its initial user base — in September 2006; I had a page by 2007, and I loved it for looking at old girlfriends’ vacation pics and analyzing who had aged the worst since high school. Olds like me took over Facebook in short order, pushing the young people to the margins while we took the NY Times quiz and got into arguments about politics. They never came back. None of my kids, ages 18-22, are on Facebook.
Twitter, for me, was different. I used it to follow breaking news, keep up with journalists I respect and people who make me laugh. I never felt the need to include my extended relatives or old friends from the neighborhood in my feed. And I got more out of it than I put in, for sure.
But like everything else, it seems, Twitter sucks now.
I don’t Tik-Tok. I won’t Mastodon. There’s nothing else out there for me, and I know I’m not alone.
Still, I’m hoping there’s no “next big thing” in social media. Perhaps at one time these networks were too big to fail, but now they’ve become too big to succeed.
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