This is rarely the case.

What Twitter really is is a broadcast platform and a bad one at that, as far as making money goes. Twitter marketing is a lie, and barring massive retargeting campaigns that blanket every page you visit, it’s a horrible way to encourage action, be it an attempt to get you to buy a product, get out the vote, or call for protest. As with every blanket statement, there are caveats here, but rest assured tweeting from a million follower account is approximately as powerful as tweeting from a 30 follower account when it comes to off-Twitter action. You’ll just get less dick picks and Venmo requests. There’s a reason the default ads you see on the service are so poorly targeted and mostly trend toward clickbait: It’s the only content that gets any interaction at all and most of that interaction consists of likes or retweets.


On top of all this, Twitter is already missing new user goals (even if it beat the most recent revenue expectations), and legal challenges loom as Congress considers changes to Section 230, the law that keeps social media platforms from getting sued into oblivion for what their users post.

So what does Twitter really have to offer in a post-Trump world? Not much. First, the rise of Parler and other right-leaning alternatives are currently fracturing the audience considerably, calving off huge groups of “free speech advocates” who want somewhere to curse. Further, kids in the U.S. aren’t joining Twitter in any meaningful way, eschewing it and other classic social media solutions for new ideas. Network interaction is cyclical and early Gen X web users raised on zines and one-way media gravitated to a service like Twitter because it offered them a way to broadcast. The next generations—late Millennials and Gen Z—want conversation, and they’re getting it in Discord and Twitch.


My prediction is Twitter and Facebook with flail mightily over the next few years but won’t disappear outright. Other platforms will rise above them with regularity until two or three more truly monolithic figures appear and then Dorsey and Zuck will be forgotten. Don’t believe me? Name another well-funded social media platform—Google Plus, Goodreads, Friendster—that is relevant today. All of those sites were once considered contenders for some version of the social media crown.


The Buddhist in Jack will appreciate the inevitability of all of this. After all, when Tekisui was dying and his temple had burned, he lay near his pupil Gasan who was already named his successor.

“What are you going to do when you get the temple rebuilt?” asked Tekisui in the koan.


“When your sickness is over we want you to teach there,” said Gasan.

“Suppose I do not live until then?” Tekisui asked.

“Then we will get someone else,” said Gasan.

“Suppose you cannot find anyone?” asked Tekisui.

“Don’t ask such foolish questions. Just go to sleep,” said Gasan.

Gasan, inevitably, died a few days later.