The continued collapse of Twitter has lead to all sorts of folks scrambling to fill the void. They’re all a bit of a shitshow in different ways (which, let’s be honest, so is/was Twitter). Will Blue Sky be the next Twitter? Will Threads be the next Twitter? Will Hive be the next Twitter? Will Twitter be the next Twitter? It’s all a bit laughable.
First there were the young scrappy services that were already trying to do a thing (think Mastodon or Hive), so already existed when the exodus from Twitter first started. None of those are going to get the mass inertia (and I think that’s a good thing, let them fill particular niches like they already were – hopefully enough folks stick around there that it just makes them more viable for their communities in the long run).
Now you’ve got the services that were either in development (Blue Sky) or fast-followed (Threads). Blue Sky might end up doing a thing – I’m not on it, but it sounds like a lot of “the cool kids” managed to land there. It’s still a semi-closed beta, so it’s got the “exclusivity” thing going (but folks say also means it feels more like pre-2013 Twitter). Threads is Meta’s fast-follow into the Twitter-like space, it just came out, and design-wise people seem okay with it, but is a privacy nightmare, and has the sort of dark patterns and bullshittery you’d expect from Meta (for instance, if you decide you don’t like Threads and want to delete your Threads account, you must also delete the Instagram account you linked to it).
Broderick had a good observation that’s been making the rounds:
I think hardcore Twitter users have rose-colored glasses about the site’s coolness. The reason for its success, if you can argue that it was ever really successful, wasn’t that it was cooler than Facebook. It was because of its proximity to power. The reason it was so popular with activists, extremists, journalists, and shitposters was because what you posted there could actually affect culture. The thing that ties together pretty much everything that’s happened on Twitter since it launched in 2006 was the possibility that those who were not in power (or wanted more) could influence those who were. And I don’t think it’s an accident that a deranged billionaire broke that, nor do I think it’s accident that we’re suddenly being offered smaller, insular platforms or an offshoot of a Meta app as replacements. The folks in charge clearly don’t want that to happen again.Ryan Broderick, “Paying to use a site you can’t use anymore“
I think he’s right. I also think that will probably continue to be an anomaly. The “social media” era in general I don’t think has been a healthy one, both for individuals and as a culture. There have been some great benefits (rapid information dissemination in times of crisis, methods to have dialogue with folks in positions of power, etc), but it’s lead to some pretty massive drawbacks as well (a rise in depression and feelings of isolation, conflation with personal identity and “brand”, influencer culture in general).
I don’t know what shape things will go from where, what the transition will be, or if we’ll not actually move on and instead just limp along with a shittier, rotted husk of an internet. I think the corporate-driven shambling zombie outcome is just as likely (or more likely) as the outcome where we move past this and figure out a healthier, better method for interacting online. The internet is pretty shit right now, but shit can make good fertilizer, so a part of me remains hopeful that there’s a seed somewhere out there that will germinate and grow, and in like a year or three we start hearing about something that is surprisingly awesome. (I don’t think it’ll be any of the services from now, though.)