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Slowly, then all at once
How companies finish up trading while insolvent
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.
I have a suspicion I think has a modest chance of coming to be.
Social media as a collectivity (Facebook/Meta, Twitter, Discord, TikTok, etc) is currently somewhere in the “gradually” or “slowly” part of the equation.
TikTok — newer and also protected by an authoritarian capitalist state — is probably safest. Google has something other than YouTube, while Apple actually makes things, so they can be put to one side. How long Elon Musk uses his ability to make profitable things (Tesla, SpaceX, Starlink) to protect Twitter is very much moot.
Then there’s Facebook/Meta’s market cap over the last year.
Meanwhile, in a move that parallels conservatives leaving Twitter for their own, distinctly echo-chamber-ish platforms (Gettr, Parler, etc) over censorship, lefties are leaving Twitter because they fear having to defend their claims or someone saying hurty words at them.
They’re heading for Mastodon, without really understanding how it works. I mean, the biggest “node” on Mastodon is Gab, and the second biggest is Pawoo, a Japanese outfit notorious for its tolerance of lolicon (a form of Japanese anime child porn).
Truth Social (yes, Donald Trump’s personal social media platform) is also a Mastodon node, although it’s much smaller than Gab or Pawoo (the problem of being a late mover and losing all those lovely network effects).
Mastodon isn’t happy about this, but because it’s clearly run by the kind of naïve dorks we all (rightly) laughed at school, there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.
I’ve seen analogies with MySpace’s “slowly-then-all-at-once” slide into irrelevance, or tumblr hitting the self-destruct button by banning porn. However, it may be that people are simply over social media. It’s like yo-yos, or leg-warmers, or arse-antler tattoos, and humanity is about to move onto the next shiny, glittery thing.
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