Why Twitter is dying (and what can be learned from this situation)

Original author: Umair Haque
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It is early summer, I am in the vicinity of the Dupont Circle (Dupont Circle) Washington state. Something is wrong here: it seems to me that people have recently tweeted much less often than usual. But I need to finish the book, so I'm postponing my observations so that I can return to them later.

It is now late summer, and I stand frowning at Madison Square. Something is clearly wrong. Twitter looks like an empty pub ... It seems that people are in a hurry to leave as soon as possible, rolling their eyes in their displeasure. Perhaps (I say to myself), is everything just on vacation?

And then it was early autumn, and I was in my favorite London cafe. Twitter looks like a large haunted cemetery. I call them "ists." Journalists retweeting journalists, activists activists, and economists, of course, economists. From time to time, a great war breaks out between different groups of “ists”, only ... no one cares ... because everyone else in a hurry got off the train.

What happened to Twitter? It's just some kind of mystery, isn't it?

Not really.

In order to understand what really happened, let's analyze what did NOT happen. Competition Starting from the status of a new “startup of the day” ...

Twitter's problems came about as a result of something deeper and simple at the same time. Thus, at a certain moment, he simply turned out to be invisible. Twitter has literally become a victim of its own foresight.

I present to your court my humble theory, which can be expressed in one word. Aggression. And in the future I want to develop the idea that it is aggression, and not the desire to make money, that is a huge problem in the world of technology and media. This problem is the greatest difficulty facing the modern Internet. It is much more important than censorship, norms or (pah, what a shit!) Monetization. This is a problem of staggering magnitude and unprecedented proportions. And even worse, it is very expensive: it cannot be solved in cheap ways, such as fixing a code or releasing updates.

In order for you to understand me correctly, let me explain what I mean by aggression. This is not only an obvious “mistreatment”. It is also endless squabbles, predictable sarcastic or mocking remarks and comments, the general atmosphere of constant aggression that pervades social networks ... and the fact that an ordinary person is unable to do anything about it.

We once glorified Twitter as a great social network, similar to the city square - a shining agora, where everyone can come together for communication. But I’ve never been to a city square where people kick and push each other, venomously mock, dog, threaten, stalk, commit abominations and attack you ... after hearing a conversation, of which they weren’t part ... just to throw out the rage inherent in people ... because their dreams were destroyed ... and you can’t even call the cops (to kick their ass - approx. translator). How do you like this social phenomenon? Twitter could be a delightful city square. But now it looks more like a drunken furious booth. And people who like to dive in this shit may not be the audience with whom you would like to build a multi-million dollar

The Internet has become a terrible place full of cruelty. This is because companies that run the show simply don’t take aggression seriously ... in fact, they don’t take it into account at all. When was the last time you heard the CEO of a large technology company talking about ... aggression ... and not about advertising? Why not? The sad truth is that they see aggression as something that is on the periphery of the "business models", as something insignificant and certainly not worthy of investment, because their main efforts are aimed at ... selling advertising.

They are wrong. The depth of their delusions is astounding. Aggression kills social communities and therefore it does not belong to the “periphery of business models” - it is in the heart. It produces a noticeable cooling effect - once pricked, people just stop using the network and leave ... and it seems this is what happens on Twitter. Aggression is also critical for technologies that are designed to bring people together, as for light industry - the sale of uninfected salmonella beef. The simple fact is that people do not want to live their lives listening to the accusations and filth in their address from those people whom they will never meet, who are not angry at all with them, but with the world, for the things that they hardly said people who are practically not known. It seems to me that this problem is extremely important. I will say it again, only easier: build a platform,

And from this it is not clear what actually their products and services are from the very beginning. The above organizations are aimed at achieving the goals of the industrialization era, such as increasing productivity and efficiency by selling at the highest price and manufacturing products at the lowest cost. A packaged meat company selling rotten beef that people pickle from will sooner or later face declining sales. The same thing will happen with a social network that is infected with negativity and abuse - it will inevitably begin to lose users. I can highlight this from the perspective of an economist, if you don’t mind: the network directly affects powerful social technologies, but negative is a kind of effect that does not work for it. I do not benefit from staying in such a network - I suffer.

Here is what really can be called revelation and discovery: Q&A in technologies is considered from the point of view of code - not behavior. Technology in the context of culture is so far from reality that it can hardly understand what it is tightly connected with: not with a code, but with a representation of social interaction. These are not only questions of bits and bytes - but questions of norms and values. Therefore, technology is absolutely unable to comprehend the concept of quality in any meaningful way. “Quality” is not just error-free code, it is interaction without negativity.

You can write impeccable code, but if as a result it gives room for constant humiliation, threats, insults, bickering, nit-picking, wrangling and squabble, then ... well, this is good evidence that people do not use it to extract real value. And that’s the whole point. When technologies are used to reduce the capabilities of people, rather than expand them, they cannot be valuable to the latter. A simple fact: the technologies that depreciate us lose value to ourselves. If technology creates opportunities for interaction poisoned by aggression, then we can safely talk about the decline in the quality of this technology below the level when it benefits people. This interaction becomes toxic.

But the question of negativity and aggression has much more subtle, invisible sides - they are the underwater part of the iceberg.

Aggression does not appear from a vacuum. A healthy mind does not need aggression and does not exude it. Aggression is caused by trauma, and the injured mind becomes aggressive. Such a mind wants to get rid of the pain - to throw out all the negativity outside, bury it inside itself, to escape from its own anger and disappointment - otherwise it risks being broken or torn by this pain.

But the following fact causes concern.

We have created an aggressive society. We made negativity, insults and aggression something normal, orderly and routine. Even at work we are humiliated - by all the rules, norms and expectations of our work, where we are considered only as “human resources” that are used, distributed and depleted. We are shamelessly exploited by those industries that prey on our innocence and profit from human weaknesses. And now we have poured slops from the screens of our computers and mobile devices - we are offended by people whom we will never meet for what we hardly said. We live in a society where shooting at schools has become a familiar fact, and not an exception, where more and more people are taking antidepressants ... and now this has been added

We are experiencing a century of stagnation, a century of broken hopes and unjustified expectations. And that which is in stagnation is not “just an economy”, it is we ourselves. Our capabilities and potential, the lives that we must live. All fat and creates a huge cycle of aggression. Stagnation is aggression. And we are her victims. We were not only inflated in every possible way at work, in social contracts, in the amount of pensions and savings - along with this, we were also deprived of the opportunity to be ourselves. But in our anger and despair we spill aggression. Endlessly (at least in social networks) we run into each other, threaten, poison others, sort things out, condemn ... and all this from scratch. Victims of aggression become aggressors.

This is a huge megatrend, and social networks are part of it: a fierce society, great stagnation, crowning the wave of aggression. Do you think I'm exaggerating? Then get distracted for a moment and think about the growth of right-wing extremist parties around the world. The resentment and frustration generated by stagnation are fuel for all this. And this indignation and disappointment - as a manifestation of endless anger or passive aggression of bitter irony - is probably the main attribute of today's culture. We begin to insult each other after we ourselves have become victims of aggression.

And that really is a huge problem. And here is also an indication of the role that social technologies must play if they wish to regain their value. The most successful social platforms will be those that reverse the cycle of aggression, which is the brainchild of stagnation. Those that will help heal the emotional wounds of people in our age of broken dreams. These wounds are deep. It was not the fall that caused them. Not a knife. They were applied with a scalpel, the blade of which is sharper than sin. And the wounds will bleed until they heal - not with bandages and potions, but with mercy, pity, love and meaning.

So let me say my epitaph for Twitter. No, he is not really “dead” yet. But I think that in a way, part of him died. This can be seen as a kind of promise, or prediction. Let me dress the story for you in this form.

It seemed to us that we had created a revolution. But we did not learn a great lesson from the revolution. Today's revolutionary is tomorrow's tyrant. The French Revolution began as a great ode to human power. And its culmination was a tidal wave of terror and bloodshed. Every revolution likewise takes place - and the digital revolution is no exception. Cross the line and the Inquisitors will attack you. Therefore, it is better to keep quiet than to dare to challenge the fury of the revolution itself.

Like all convinced revolutionaries, we dreamed that we would establish a new order that would make people freer, truthful, better. We dared to undermine the old order in which the thirsting authorities led the thoughts of the powerless. But we ourselves have created a new device, not much different from the previous one. Like all convinced revolutionaries, we do not fully understand the very essence of the revolution. When we give free rein to animal energy, which destroys even that freedom, the creation of which was its task, the opportunity should not be higher than power.

Can we create a better network? Oh sure. But it seems to me that we need to start with humility, gratitude and a vision of reality - not arrogance, liberties and blindness. Aggression is not a trifle or an unpleasant trivial little irritation that “other people” are forced to put up with for the great privilege of having our world-changing technologies in their dirty little hands. This will freeze networks, stop their growth and ruin communities, preventing them from developing, and leave no room for blooming lives. If your goal is social interaction, then aggression is also fatal for him, as for a buyer - infected beef. If you do not understand this, then you can share with Twitter the fate that befell him in 2015. Not a wonderful community in the central square of the city, but an angry raging crowd in a garbage pit. Good luck

What is really happening with Twitter these days? People themselves were divided into small groups and clans. The task of each clan is to protect its beliefs, its customs, its culture - in essence, its worldview. The digital world is divided into “ists” - no matter which ones (economists, activists, fighters for someone’s rights, left, right forces) - and all these “ists” initially put their own “digital religion”, if you like, above all else . Therefore, for them this is a kind of altar, to which everyone (including you) should pay tribute, and if you dare not to bow your head or, even worse, to challenge their idol, then believers will do whatever they think necessary - all in order to protect their gods. And they will go on a crusade against you.

Here's what it looks like:

Step 1: you are somewhat lazy saying something that istam does not like, because it looks like a challenge to their beliefs.
Step 2: they notice it.
Step 3: the action has begun. A full-fledged partisan information war. Furious mobbing, attempts to shame (if you're a female), violent threats and more.


But pay attention: in all these endless srach, eternal skirmishes, the unceasing attraction of electronic cruelty, we are not fighting for something initially significant. In this case, should we be surprised that people gradually refuse to participate in this children's game?

Engineers and specialists with an MBA diploma who act as cardinals and archbishops of modern technology culture are unlikely to like my explanation. They will rest on their hands and feet - for the simple reason that my theory challenges their fundamental beliefs and worldview. Nevertheless, they built their companies using just those organizational methods that they were taught. Product management departments, engineering departments, monetization managers, etc.

I recommend other posts:

GTD in English (and not only): a new look at learning foreign languages
Doomed to death: is your startup alive or obviously dead?
What happens to our brain during procrastination?

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