If you’re on Twitter, you know there has been a lot of drama about the future of the site. If you’re not on Twitter, well, now is probably not a good time to join.
I have no idea what will happen to Twitter. All I know is, my follower count is around 250, which is the higher-end estimate of Dunbar’s Number, and thus seems to me to be the perfect amount. I only regularly interact with about 5% of them. But I have alternate ways to get in touch with that 5% without using Twitter. So, even if it goes, it wouldn’t be the end of my world.
What I’m more interested in is what this means for social media as a whole. Frankly, I dislike the term “social media.” It reeks of early-2000s tech speak, in which hackers reinvented terms for well-established human behaviors and thought themselves geniuses.
Of course, the internet is a wonderful way of meeting people, and I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve made through it. (They are, after all, the real treasure.) I would not want to lose touch with them. Fittingly, Twitter is a canary in the coal mine. What happens to it could, in theory, happen to all online relationships.
At times like these, I like to flippantly reference Deus Ex, a 2000 cyberpunk video game in which the world is ravaged by terrorism, poverty, and pandemics, all while sinister global megacorporations scheme to reengineer humanity itself for their own ends.
However, while this game may sound very dated and completely irrelevant to our modern era, the part I’m thinking of is the “Dark Age Ending,” in which the protagonist, J.C. Denton, destroys the global computer network controlled by the tech billionaire villain, plunging the world into a state of anarchic freedom:
(By the way, one high-profile fan of Deus Ex is none other than… Elon Musk.)
Now, before you all get excited and form an anarcho-syndicalist commune, I’m not saying that our future is necessarily small tribes communicating only by letters and carrier pigeons.
Rather, I’m saying we need to think about what the whole goal of online socializing is. What do we want to get out of it? Do we actually want a forum where anyone can say anything to anyone? Maybe we do.
Then again, maybe not. Maybe all we want is a place to talk with our friends. I don’t know; these are tough questions.
But this I do know: it’s got to be about the quality of the relationships, not the quantity. The ability to attract millions of eyeballs is not that important. What’s important is that we cultivate friendships with people that are actually meaningful to us.
Good point. This is probably why my use of social media has declined…when I initially joined Facebook years ago, it really was because I enjoyed seeing posts from my personal friends, not a bunch of trolling and terrible political commentary from jerks I barely know. Also, I picked a really bad time to finally become interested in Twitter a couple months back…hahaha
Finding friends and communicating with them is about quality rather than quantity. But if the objective is to sell, quantity is king. So along comes the plague of advertising. Most of us indie authors have figured out that isn’t the magic bullet for book sales; neither is (are?) social media.
I joined My Space, which became Face Book to advertise my books. I’m in a bubble with fb, if I save political posts my friends from college and high school that lean the other way unfriend me or I unfriend them. It has helped keep in touch with fellow writers in our Writer3writers group.
I was on Blogger and used it in my classroom by posting each day’s assignments, when students would come into class and say “What did I miss, yesterday, I’d point them to the five computers I got with grant money and say, go find out. Blogger also let me keep in touch with family and friends, I serialized Human Sacrifices as I was writing it. My sister was a nurse on the night shift and she would read what I wrote along with the other nurses, they would discuss it and she’d let me know what they said. It’s through blogging that I’ve encountered other writers and readers like you Berthold, and Lydia and Wednesday Challenge. I lament the many good blogger friends that shut down, and glad not all have. It is a platform for true communication, not just sound bites.
I agree, blogs are the best! 🙂
I think that video game sounds eerily like our present day. I’ve written about my much more hopeful vision of the future in my SF. However, I postulated a period of total decline before we get there. I just never expected it to start in my lifetime.
I remember in your books you mention the “Techno-Warlords.” I think we’ve got some of those…
Quality definitely over quantity! I use social media much more sparingly these days, primarily just to talk sports and connect with specific people. That’s about it.
That’s the way to do it! 🙂
Read an interesting article today about the death of Twitter, and in it the author pointed out that Twitter is not a manufacturer, hence its assets aren’t machines or bricks and mortar etc. The lifeblood of Twitter is it’s staff, and thanks to Musk, it’s bleeding out.
I’m glad I dumped Twitter when I did. Ditto Facebook. Social media platforms come and go: Geo cities, MySpace and who knows how many others. They’re like the ‘in’ restaurant or nightclub, insanely popular for a while and then…gone.
If I used my phone for anything other than the odd phone call, I’d consider giving Tik Tok a try because I think it /is/ the new kid on the block. 😀
Very true. I like the comparison to restaurants/nightclubs.
I want to quadruple “like” this post since I enjoyed it on so many different levels : )
I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks. 🙂