Is it time to let the Twitter dream die?
Nietzsche shocked the world when he declared God is dead. (Kids in the Hall, not so much1)
Now, digital philosophers hope to do the same when they declare the death of Twitter.
On one hand, Twitter will live on through X, whatever the hell that becomes. On other other hand, the essence of Twitter was gone long before Elon Musk bought the platform.
So what’s next? Most people are trying to answer this question by finding a comparable replacement. How can we fill that bird-shaped void in our souls? Mastodon is too confusing for normies. Bluesky isn’t open to the public and is still available only via an invite code. People seem to be over Threads, as usage has recently dropped over 80%.2.
Why do we need a one-to-one trade? Why do we need to replace one platform with another? What if we instead replace Twitter with something else completely?
Cal Newport recently quoted the author Neil Gaiman as admitting his own blogging, an activity he once enjoyed, had suffered due to microblogging via Twitter3. Gaiman doesn’t think any current platform will replace Twitter. If he’s right, then that means something unlike Twitter must replace it. What will that something be?
So many of us keep waiting for something to recreate the early vibes of Twitter. But what if Twitter was little more than a moment on the internet? What if that moment is simply gone, lightning that won’t strike twice no matter the platform?
The essence of Twitter was killed by the pressures of profit. Can any platform serve on the same scale while resisting those same pressures? Someone has to pay for these services, one way or the other. Servers and development ain’t free.
Maybe Twitter should serve as a warning sign of what’s most likely ahead for most platforms like it. And maybe we shouldn’t seek to replace Twitter but to find better, more niche alternatives.
Maybe Small is the New Big isn’t just the title of a marketing book by Seth Godin4. Maybe it’s also the future of the web.
Jake LaCaze knows it’s time to let the Twitter dream die. Yet he’s still on Bluesky.
Neil Gaiman’s Radical Vision for the Future of the Internet by Cal Newport ↩︎