Twitter used to be an apolitical forum where you could type and hashtag away just about anything that seemed important or “interesting” to you. But times have changed as we all know, and the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has turned it into his most powerful propaganda tool. But can’t Twitter do something about that? A Washington Post reporter recently (Manjoo, 7/5/18) asked that same question to Vijaya Gadde, head of the legal policy and trust office at Twitter. “She declined to answer directly, pointing instead to a January statement in which the company stated that blocking a world leader’s tweets ‘would hide important information people should be able to see and delete.’ But what if that important information conflicts with Twitter’s mission to promote a healthy public conversation? Sooner or later, Twitter’s executives and employees are going to have to make a decision about which is more important, Mr. Trump’s tweets or the company’s desire to promote a healthy public conversation. It’s hard to see how both are tenable.” Ray Myers
Unfortunately for all you Twitter fans, I don’t think you will be able to go back to the good old days (monthly growth is stalling). I know we all had fun learning how to tweet with all our hashtags, acronyms, retweets, etc., but somehow we may be astonished to learn that people seem to prefer more explicit expressions of their own or other’s thoughts, comments, and ideas. Blogging seems to be on the rise as one of the more expansive methods of online expression. And of course there is always Instagram, FaceTime, YouTube and other apps that enable us to hear and see whatever the “message” may be. Anybody remember Marshall McLuhan? (You may want to look him up).
Twitter will never die, and I am confident that Jack Dorsey and company will figure out a way to stay competitive in the crowded world of online messaging. I think that the good news for all of us is that traditional language structure and expression has carved out a niche in our electronic age. At least, let’s hope so. Many friends and acquaintances, however, who are still teaching in both traditional and online settings, are concerned with students’ deteriorating writing skills. And who will be the future English (or any language) teachers/writers of tomorrow?
I think they are out there, and we will all know them when we see (read) them. So maybe Twitter’s waning popularity is not bad news. It was certainly something that I learned to do at an advanced age (?). It was fun and still is, but let’s remember that communication with one another is more than just sending out 140 character electronic messages.
What a dilemma! To be honest, I started tweeting before I tried Facebook or Instagram. Now I am primarily using the latter two to “stay in touch.” I use WordPress (TechtoExpress) to write this blog, and then have it posted to Twitter and Facebook. Instagram is something that I like for more personal reasons of sharing photos with family and friends. As newly developed social media platforms become available it seems that the trusty Twitter network does not have the same appeal that it used to. Even Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has admitted that they “had lots of work to do to make the service easier for regular people.”
Now I consider myself a regular (albeit older) person interested in social media, and I largely spent the last three and a half years of my government service using Twitter to highlight the impact of technology in educational systems throughout the U.S., and in other countries. In many ways, it was like learning a code that quickly developed its own abbreviations, acronyms, hashtags, etc., that could all be crafted into a 140 character tweet. It was a new language, and before I retired from the Department of Education, we had a following of over 70,ooo worldwide. I think the visual imagery that can be more easily shared on Facebook and Instagram do make them a media service “easier for regular people to use.” Maybe social media’s use of visual imagery has more of a permanent appeal than the often confusing and changing code terms used by Twitter users? These images also have a more universal appeal that transcends language differences.
I guess we will have to see what happens with Twitter. The company has launched a campaign to work with developers in designing a new platform(s) that, I hope, would go beyond “0ne size fits all.”