Every five to ten years, a popular social network gets hit with a crisis. Twitter's current Musk-y crisis feels precipitously different than its previous ones.
Today I came across a thread by John Bull that introduced me to the perfect word to describe 2022 Instagram and Twitter: The trust thermocline. It describes the sudden point in which various individuals lose trust in an an institution or organization en-masse.
I remember the glory days of Digg, Slashdot and MySpace. Suddenly they went from being huge communities with massive network effect to a shadow of a community that I no longer use. Twitter currently feels like it's teetering on that edge.
At several points in the last 6 years I felt that the temperature of several social networks changed suddenly for the worse. In 2016 Facebook was no longer fun and I stopped participating in 2017. In 2019 I stopped following Medium content because it all sounded like self-promotional TED-Talk-Meets-LinkedIn echo chamber of pseudo-intellectual bullshit (on practically any topic).
This year alone I deactivated my Instagram in the summer when I realized it just felt like a confused TikTok of ads overwhelming my friends' posts and videos. Then just this week I re-invested my interest in Mastodon, a decentralized Twitter-like social network born in 2016 that over the last week has gained over 200,000 new users (on top of its several-hundred-thousand existing active accounts).
We shall see what the future holds for Twitter. It still has an enormous amount of momentum due to its size, but it may never be "the" place it was for so many niche communities. Mastodon may not win the lion's share of the Twitter-exodus, but it stands a good chance of becoming somewhat relevant now.