The day the social network shut down forever

Posted on Sunday November 21, 2021
Category: Society
Tags: dystopia ; privacy ; story

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⏱ Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The social network has now become too niche to justify its existence and has finally shut down…

Remember these good times you had? The baby photos, the cute animals and landscapes, the memes and jokes, the birthdays, Christmases, New Years and other seasonal posts from your friends, family and acquaintances you met once at a party. They are all gone, now. All the hours you poured into making your profile picture and background admirable, the ones and zeroes you flooded the virtual world with by sending reactions, posts, pictures, videos and your data. The moments of panic you experienced when people around you were hacked but you were not. All of this is gone now.

The writing was on the wall. Every week or so there was a new scandal. Sometimes it was a user data mismanagement or the executive team, then some employee who went rogue or content moderation, then a feature that takes a stance against users and outages, or that brand that made a huge mistake. Investors had enough waiting for rage outbursts to settle down, your nerdy friends left one after the other. The social network became less social and more forceful: remember that company they bought a few years ago? Well now you need an account to use their products and they get to decide what is to become of them.

We were promised a lasting connection with the people that matter to us and this promise has vanished. Our memories, carefully collected and cherished vanished into thin air. Was it always like that? Why is it so difficult remembering good moments now? Did we… have good moments in the first place? Why can we only remember the drama, the pure madness and the dread? Why are the cheerful baby and cat pictures feeling so shallow all of a sudden?

Even the TV news spotted the pattern: no one should trust a company which withstands major controversies for breakfast! With each issue, a fragment of the trust that bonded the user base went away and with it the portion of the audience who believes the ship has long sailed. Additionally more platforms emerged, with new rules and new ways to share fun. New promises. New hype cycle.

First the young people fled because of their parents, because of the shame, because the platform became lame. Then the friends, the parents, the ones who lost interest, taking with them the remainder of the social graph. Niches, smaller and self-centered communities remained. The fools who believe in conspiracies. You start to be associated with them just by being here, still registered, still online. You too felt the shame, you had to justify your presence by mentioning your remote family which only knows and uses this website.

Then finally came the turn of corporate investors and advertisers. Something was not right with the ads anyway, like you felt more and more detached as if they dropped in relevance and quality. They became part of the decor. Their ineffectiveness is what led advertisers to outright stop advertising. After that, content moderation became less effective too: bad actors sprawled uncontrollably. You too started receiving unsavory messages that you ignored. They were occasional after all.

Then it stopped. The app on your phone and tablet, the site, the messenger, everything stopped responding. Another outage you thought. However this one lasted. Nothing worked after six hours, one day. You did not know anyone that still relied on that social network, that still logs in and could help. You thought that it was an issue on your end, with all of your devices, your Internet box. You turned on the TV set and sat on the couch, the news segment rolled in and that is when you realized this was truly the end.

You could not believe it, you needed to hear the story again. You were angry: why now, they were financially solid weren’t they? They promised they would last forever didn’t they? I could store all of my photos on my cheap phone so why can’t they? You felt powerless, of course there was nothing you can do, that the story would repeat again and again. New social network, new leaf, new scandals, new shutdown. And eventually you started to realize.

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Vincenzo Scalzi