This past summer I made the decision to purge myself of all forms of social media in an attempt to limit my interfacing with the outside world. I kept Snapchat for the yearly memories and BeReal for the harmless, once-a-day upload, while the remaining platforms I once had – Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc. – were deleted. I enjoy the change; I still don’t have any of these apps downloaded and I hope to maintain as off the radar as I can be.
This November break, however, I decided to explore a new platform. With Twitter being run into the ground, Yik Yak still it’s usual hellish self and other mediocre apps offering little excitement, I chose chaos, and downloaded Truth Social, the Twitter-alternative founded by Donald Trump.
My impression of Truth has been fairly quotidian; the app offers little new features than its counterparts and is largely filled with political ads and questionable weight loss techniques. It’s essentially Twitter with the added annoyance of infinite spam accounts and a difficult to read white-on-purplish design. Yet, the frenzied nature of its users, the surprising representation of both political parties’ views – not to mention more radical ideologies promoted by both far right and left users – and complete lack of fact checking makes the app a delightfully messy platform that quickly became my primary source of laughter.
Granted, I understand the issue of this. Much like Facebook or Twitter, I’m confident many take to the platform seeking news and information that is largely unfounded. The glaring irony is that Truth contains little truth at all, and so long as the user is aware of this fact, the app poses little harm. This, of course, is not the case for most, as the app remains a worrying prospect for many. This is not a new fear, nor is it the first platform to generate this fear – Twitter, for one, following the purchase of the website by Elon Musk, has generated similar conversations regarding the spread of disinformation and hate speech.
I do think there is something to be gained from both Twitter’s downfall and Truth’s abysmal attempt to replace it.
Social media is becoming obsolete: Platforms that attempt to replace dying competitors almost never accrue the same success as their predecessors; Monopolies such as Meta make the illusion of choice more obvious than before; Not to mention that most platforms have just merged into copy-paste versions of one another. Instagram is a great example. What was once the pinnacle app for sharing photo content with friends has rapidly fallen off due to its blatant attempt to copy other platform’s features. Stories, Reels, Live and Shopping all serve as recycled versions of Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch and Amazon, respectively, compiled into a diluted version of what once was Instagram.
Truth and Twitter, too, represent this downfall. Regardless of their associations with the former president or billionaire blood-emerald heirs, I wouldn’t be shocked if future political campaigns and people more broadly shift away from the mediums of social media. Both platforms have failed at their goals miserably – regarding Twitter, I say this in respect to the post-Musk takeover – of providing users a vehicle for unaudited free speech and general entertainment.
Maybe it’s just me, a boomer zoomer ranting about the vices of the internet in a college newspaper. Plenty of individuals still turn to social media for an amalgam of content, and I doubt this will completely drop off anytime soon. That being said, I’d like to put out the prediction that in some near future, social media will become largely antiquated. “Vintage” apps such as Myspace or Tumblr, if all goes well, will soon gain company from many of the currently-popular social media platforms, with the likes of Twitter, Truth and TikTok – sorry to the Ts of the world – likely failing sooner rather than later.
As someone who irresponsibly purchased a film camera with absolutely no experience whatsoever, I’m excited by the prospect of learning how to interact with the world in a more tangible way again, and hope that our values as a society return to more direct and deliberate forms of their former selves. Maybe we’ll all forget what it’s like to stalk someone’s date on LinkedIn or that dangerous half-swipe we used to do to read someone’s Snapchat text. I, for one, would be glad if we did.