If you want to write a column about how terrible Twitter is, do it now — before the company has its initial public offering this November, goes corporate, and becomes (if past is prologue) uncool. See: when a company goes public it has to do things that make it a lot less fun for people who liked the service from the beginning, as The Wall Street Journal's Farhad Manjoo explains. "First, it will have to run a lot more ads. This isn't surprising—every website turns on the spigot at some time—and it won't be ruinous," he writes. "But Twitter will also face intense pressure to alter its service in order to make the service more widely appealing." And the laws of cool state that once something has too much mass appeal, it can no longer be cool. In other words: Twitter is on the verge of losing any hipness it ever had. Don't you want to be the one who hated on the service before everyone else? (If you care about being cool the answer is yes.)
But you better hurry: This week we've already seen two compelling Twitter Is Terrible blog posts that haven't drawn the usual ire for the storied Twitter Is Terrible genre. Generally, when people write screeds against the platform, the Twitterati come out with the "Twitter is what you make it" defense, thus negating any complaints against the service. But, these two posts, one on The Daily Beast, the other on the personal blog of Dustin Curtis, creator of Svbtle, have people (mostly) agreeing on Twitter.
That's partly because the posts each make some good (and tweetable!) points. Like this perfect analogy from Goldberg: "Twitter is like doing cut-rate cocaine at a boring party where a lot of the guests dislike you. (As I said, I lived in San Francisco in the ’90s.) You’re not having any fun, but it’s really hard to stop." Or, this line from Curtis: "Twitter takes complex ideas and destroys them by forcing my brain to compact them into little 140-character aphorisms, truisms, or jokes."
But, they're also the first to note what people in the know will soon accept as the norm: Twitter isn't that cool anymore. You can argue "Twitter is what you make it" all you want. But social networks are more than that, they're also what everyone else makes it. If all the "right" people to follow on Twitter no longer want to tweet, then it's hard to make the best of the service for all of its benefits.
It's very possible that when Twitter goes public, it won't alienate early adopters. But, as we've seen with Facebook, that's an incredibly difficult prospect. As it grows and develops, all the cool kids will find a new platform or network or just leave Twitter altogether, at which point columns lamenting the end of the service's cool cachet will pop up all over the Internet. The Internet can only take so many reasoned posts about the terribleness of the service before it's so mainstream that it's no longer cool. So, you better get that column in soon.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.