Over at the New Atlantis, Alan Jacobs has a post arguing that Twitter has changed in a fundamental--and fundamentally unpleasant--way. A sample:
As long as I've been on Twitter (I started in March 2007) people have been complaining about Twitter. But recently things have changed. The complaints have increased in frequency and intensity, and now are coming more often from especially thoughtful and constructive users of the platform. There is an air of defeat about these complaints now, an almost palpable giving-up. For many of the really smart people on Twitter, it's over. Not in the sense that they'll quit using it altogether; but some of what was best about Twitter _ primarily the experience of discovery _ is now pretty clearly a thing of the past.
Recently Marco Arment got into a something of a pissing match on Twitter, and says that he learned a few things from it. For instance, he's going to stop hate-retweeting some of the nastiest comments he gets, which I have always thought was a bad idea anyway. He's going to take more time away from social media. And he's going to reconsider the access to his life that he grants, that all of us grant, to strangers on social media. "We allow people access to us 24/7. We're always in public, constantly checking an anonymous comment box, trying to explain ourselves to everyone, and trying to win unwinnable arguments with strangers who don't matter in our lives at all."
Jacobs isn't the only one_he mentions a couple of other smart writers (Marco Armentand Frank Chimero) who are rethinking Twitter, too. Patton Oswalt took a Twitter hiatus this summer. Even the Atlantic Monthly thinks Twitter is in its twilight (in terms of its value to users, not usage).
Never having been particularly fond of Twitter myself, I don't have a lot to add here. Except for encouragement. Leaving Twitter is a good thing. Think of it this way: There's a finite number of words you're able to read in a lifetime. Do you really want to spend hundreds of thousands of those on Twitter feeds? Me neither.
You'd be much better off spending time with writers who pre-date the Internet age. In recent months I've been reading a lot from two writers_Theodore Dalrymple and Christopher Lasch_who, according the Internet, barely exist. Really: Between the two of them you get fewer than 500,000 results when you do a Google search. Search for Ezra Klein_a 30-year-old blogger who goes on MSNBC_and you get almost 1.4 million.
Yet Dalrymple and Lasch have very Big Things to say about life, power, politics, and the human condition. There are more things in heaven and earth than are catalogued on the Internet. Twitter does not help you discover such things. It obscures them.
If the era of Big Twitter really is coming to a close, it is much to the good.