The Monitor is a the passage of the week dedicated to everything that is happening in THE WIRE the world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
Earlier this week, after everyone opened their Spotify Wrapped gifts, I heard from friends – as usual this time of year – bragging or crying about the hours they devoted to Taylor Swift. But this time my feed was also flooded with people who used Spotify Wrapped only, changing the rubric to one that shows how much time they spend doing things that show their personality instead of listening to music. (Your favorites: “In total, you spent 525,600 minutes talking to gay people on your phone this year” and more mortal sins committed using Microsoft Word.)
It was a reminder that, while worldviews can be expressed in people’s favorite music, tweeting about Spotify Wrapped itself says very little. It’s a “habit” in social media terms, something that happens for a day or two, which leaves little energy. But it also raises an uncomfortable question: Do the topics that are trending on Twitter – or anywhere – still have something to say?
Morals, in their traditional meaning, show de rigueur. High-waisted jeans are trending, as are mullets. The stock market moves up or down depending on factors such as consumer spending or the Fed’s interest rate. Slang words are hella tricks. Alcoholic drinks and bars are hot. (They say.) All these things grow and last for a long time. Some internet content, on the other hand, has the life of a mosquito. They are passing by. Many of the most important cultural moments, from #MeToo to #OscarsSoWhite, have come from popular topics, but these now feel dated, when Twitter was where people talked about cultural moments. Twitter has always been a place to talk about the news, but now Twitter and story.
Even now, the eyes of the world are on the war in Ukraine and the protests in Iran because of social media, especially Twitter. But the traffic jam has become so widespread that hashtags are no longer responsible for keeping them in front of people; and the hard work of those at the bottom. Social media has accelerated everything to the point that what is happening is so fleeting, and so easily played, that it doesn’t mean much. (Although, if this The story begins to flow, request: Bring flowers.)
Twitter’s Trends section has been a problem for a while, something that doesn’t seem to reflect the reality of what users care about. Since the beginning of the Musk Era, it is not clear what this portends users he has an interest or interest in those who want to show off his behavior for political purposes, advertising, or just for the lulz. Now that hate speech can spread on the platform, it looks very bad.