On new beginnings

In 1986, in his very first episode of “Saturday Night Live,” Dana Carvey played a British rock star with writer’s block who is called in by his record company who want a progress report on the new album.

Flustered by the surprise visit, the musician quickly improvises a song about a woman chopping broccoli. The song, later known as “Choppin’ Broccoli,” became an early hit of the season and a favourite among my friends at Saint John High School.

He also improvises a song that he says is about new beginnings called, “New Beginnings,” which simply contains the repeated lyrics, “new beginnings.” It goes nowhere but he promises “once they layer in the synthesizers,” they’ll really have something.

So, for those of us who spend a lot of time (too much time?) on various apps, lots of us are considering the new beginnings of a Twitter-sized hole through the internet. Elon Musk overpaid for the site and everyday, he figures out a way to make it worse. So now many of us search of a new home to make jokes and generally offer colour commentary on the news of the day.

For all its faults, and there are many, there isn’t anything like Twitter for breaking news, organizing marginalized communities, and snarking on the main character of the day. I fear all that will be lost as Musk pushes the site further to the right.

The problem is that there is no consensus on where the new home should be. Mastodon has been an early favourite and has seen a rise in new arrivals over the past two weeks, but people are struggling with its decentralized “instances.” From my own observations, it seems a lot of people are using it as a Twitter clone. Still, some high-profile users have embraced it like George Takei.

There are others, of course. Tumblr is still around. And Hive seems to combine the best features of Tumblr and Twitter and also seems to skew young which perhaps reflects its 22-year-old founder.

And then there are those who are embracing longform writing at the various newsletter services like Substack. I tried it out by setting up a account and even wrote a post. But email is not the best way to communicate. How often does it go to the spam folder?

Two options seem absent from the post-Twitter discussion: Facebook and blogs.

Facebook, despite its attempts to rebrand as Meta and set up shop in the Metaverse (something nobody I know wants), has become the platform of choice of the 50+ crowd. It’s just not a growing company. But it is a good source of six month old memes from your local hit radio station.

Blogs, to me, should be where services like Substack are now. There’s always been an email subscription option and there really isn’t anything happening in terms of functionality with the newsletters that didn’t already exist.

But I suppose when Google pulled the plug on Google Reader, that was it for getting your news and views from an RSS feed. I still hold out hope RSS will make a comeback.

It seems we’re in a period of transition where we’ll have to see how people are going to communicate with each other online.

So I guess we’re all waiting for the synthesizers to layer in.


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