Something is stirring on the Interwebz. Call it a legitimate social media backlash. Call it the usual summertime griping by cranky, old-before-their-time mainstream media types about them there newfangled gizmos. Call it a month-long debate between The New York Times, Mashable and youth media maven Danah Boyd.
Call it Twitter's Twilight and the Fall of Facebook.
Or not. Maybe.
Like other forms of divination the fine art of interpreting online user data depends heavily on your point of view. For the past few weeks there’s been a heavy back and forth between the old guard and the new about whether teens use Twitter and if there’s an exodus going on over at Facebook.
One is the traditional media desire for someone, anyone, to get their comeuppance. Americans, especially Media-Americans, love nothing so much as a success story to end with a spectacular flame-out. Career obituaries being far more entertaining to write than actual obituaries. Odds are that even the biggest social media cheerleaders are just dying to see Facebook go the way of Friendster and SixDegrees.
The other hidden theme is far more interesting. It’s all the questions that are barely being asked.
What does it mean for young people to be living in public from the jump-off? As little as ten years ago it took a blend of ego and geeky know-how to put together a public profile online. Now it not only takes seconds, and it’s practically required to survive socially.
A teenager’s social circle might not be far flung or career-oriented enough for Twitter to have any real utility in the day to day, but traditionally private forms of communication taking place in public places is having all kinds of interesting side effects. What Clive Thomspon at Wired calls the "New Literacy”. Is the culture breeding a super-savvy generation of wits and raconteurs? Or is identity going to be reduced to the new astrology of Facebook quizzes broadcast to the ten thousand marketers who are following your status updates?
Has the end of social media begun? Not likely.