Musk’s Twitter idea is dead

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Twitter was destined to die – as an idea, if not as a business.

In its first chaotic weeks As the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk has repeatedly recalled a decade-old metaphor for the site: Twitter is a global “public square.”

The description — which Musk owes to former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo — envisions Twitter as a place where the masses come together to share what they find interesting, meaningful, or important and talk about it with others. Facebook didn’t describe itself as a public square, but it was founded on a similar principle.

But Musk or no Musk, the vision of a global public square is dead. We’ve seen too much and we don’t want to watch, listen or trust bickering voices gathered in one place.

That’s why there may never be something like Twitter or Facebook again. The world is too divided and discordant for an app to bring us together.

This vision of connecting the world and bringing the masses together has always been partly fictional and wholly problematic. But the idea also has bits of beauty and truth.

Even if you’ve never used Twitter or reluctantly floundered on Facebook, you’ve gained something from the hope anchored in social media. There was a desire to expand your human interactions beyond the physical world and an implicit desire to understand each other better.

Broadcasting to the world can be deep and useful. In the hands of a teenager from Minneapolis, Darnella Frazier, social networks have revealed the murder of George Floyd. It empowers Iranians to show the world and others their determination to win freedom. We joked together about llamas on the loose that time. It could also show or encourage the worst of us.

Be that as it may, many starry-eyed technologists in Silicon Valley no longer imagine amassing billions for a common purpose. A principle of cryptocurrency and related blockchain technology is that nobody can trust and nobody knows anything, as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said in some recent tweets. Essentially, the dream of a global public square is for suckers.

What we have instead of a public square is an explosion of private parties. Text and audio app Discord, Snapchat, Twitch, Truth Social, group text chats, and Zoom are all about mingling with the people we choose to be with.

There are still billions of people using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, WhatsApp and WeChat in China. But the principle of the public place is fraying.

You’re not on YouTube to hear from everyone, but to disperse yourself in self-selected communities around Mr. Beast, “CoComelon” or that guy roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Reddit, Substack, and Tumblr also work this way. Twitter itself may have always been better not as a hub, but as small communities of interest or identity, like Black Twitter or UFC fans.

And if Facebook’s driving idea was that you were one click away from a meaningful connection, TikTok’s big idea is that you don’t need friends at all.

Instead, computers will guess your desires and spit out bite-sized moments calculated to please you. You may never be faced with an uncomfortable idea. Mark Zuckerberg is remaking Facebook and Instagram to work more that way.

Part of me mourns the loss of the principle behind Facebook and Twitter as central places for global conversations. And part of me thinks, good riddance to all that.

It was often exhausting and awful to be thrown into the human cacophony. As in the real world, the powerful in city squares often had more votes than the weak. And why should we listen to those assholes over there, anyway?

The idea of ​​mass social media may have always been doomed. In our age of plenty and divide, it’s hard to get behind just one megawatt movie star, buy all that album, or trust the same truth.

Perhaps the magic of social media as a global public square is that it happened in the first place. It was a temporary shared delirium.

Why holiday shopping is different this year

This week is the official kickoff to the seasonal shopping craze, but you may have noticed that the “holiday” sales started weeks or months ago. Yeah.

Your shopping habits in 2022 are weird. All those leggings, TVs and bikes that have been sold out during our pandemic-fueled shopping fads? No, you don’t want them so much anymore. Businesses are stuck with a bunch of merchandise that doesn’t sell so well. Inflation is changing what you buy, and more purchases have shifted from the web to in-person stores.

These unexpected events have scrambled retailers’ typical vacation plans and will result in some good business in the coming weeks – and a whole lot of bad.

To help you through a confusing time, my colleague Jackie Peiser has published a holiday shopping survival guide with money-saving tips.

➦ A big kiss from Jackie: More and more stores and websites charge money to return items. You might want to pay extra attention to gift selection (and personal gifts) so you don’t stick your cousin with a waffle maker they’ll have to pay to get back.

A word of advice from Laura Wittig, the founder of the climate-conscious shopping and information site Brightly: Use the wishlists available at many online stores or tell your friends and family what you want. It can eliminate the surprise of giving a gift, but buying the right thing the first time is better for the giver, the recipient, and the planet.

Is Amazon Prime Worth It For You? The Post’s helpdesk team has put together a handy quiz about your shopping and other habits to answer that question.

Help us help you. How do you navigate your holiday shopping online? What are your strategies for buying the right things or buying less? Email us at [email protected] or ask us your questions about the technology in your life. We are all in the same boat.

Your cell phone carrier tracks who you call, where you go on the internet, and where you are at all times to serve you ads and earn more money. Yeah, I know.

You can say “hell no” to that. Tatum Hunter guides you through the settings to change with each of the three largest US telephone companies. It’s a small task to feel empowered today. And read more from Tatum.

Brag about YOUR small victory! Tell us about an app, gadget or tech tip that made your day a little better. We may feature your tips in a future edition of The Tech Friend.

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