THE BLOG

In Defence of Twitter and Its Gawky Attempts to Change

02/07/2016 11:38 pm 23:38:01 | Updated 07 February 2016

Guys, let's all just chill for a sec, okay? Twitter is, contrary to #RIPTwitter, still alive. Yes it's obviously floundering - the new algorithm confirms that - but let's not consign it to the ranks of Friends Reunited or Bebo (dead and sort of dead) just yet.

It's now smaller than Instagram and Snapchat is catching up. It will never be Facebook. In short, it's not big or cool. Change has to happen before its slide into irrelevancy reaches plummet speed, but its journey is going to be bumpy and in many ways we should applaud this. As an industry, social media is in its infancy and must be experimental to continue having a significant impact on our lives.

The problem with Twitter's new algorithm is it embodies everything everyone hates about Facebook. It's authoritarian and destroys the illusion we, the users, own it. Which is problematic as freedom of speech in real time truly is the appeal of Twitter. Subtract this, and it becomes troll-ish, jumbled and stagnating - a bore that frankly doesn't lend itself brilliantly to news, flat lays or feminism.

But it's hard not to feel a teeny bit bad for Jack Dorsey et al after the avalanche of criticism this weekend. Your users have declared your service dead to the extent its trending on your own platform. Ouch.

The irony of the online extreme knee jerk - in which we declare things, events and people to be everything or nothing without a second's thought - is Twitter fostered this behaviour. Things can't be just okay or a bit crap - who's going to retweet that?

We communicate in superlatives, a semantical trait that seeped into the rest of the internet and has become how you talk digital. Look at the headline on any news story - they're almost exclusively written in Twitter speak (or Buzzfeedish, but that's another article). The fact Twitter has had such a massive influence over shaping digital culture is partially what makes its current artlessness so uncomfortable, weird and - for people who really love it - heartbreaking.

But is it truly over? I don't think so. I'm interested by this, its experimental phase - its adolescence. In terms of this era of social media, Twitter is the awkward middle child. It's not had all the attention like Facebook. It's not been loved by everyone because it's cute like Instagram. It has to find its own true path and prove we need it. Can it achieve greatness again? Certainly not with its latest plans - but at least it's trying to evolve, and I'm willing to stay around to watch that happen.

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