As social media tools become easier and simpler to use, more of their value seems to be draining away. The last few years have seen an unmistakable trend towards social media tools and habits that push the absolute minimum of effort and commitment, with the result that the promise of social media — better communication, broader networks, stronger personal connections — is in danger of falling by the wayside.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
The new ReTweet (RTs): Time was, if you saw a tweet you liked, you copied-and-pasted it into your own screen, prefixed with an “RT @JohnSmith,” and tweeted it yourself. Now, like so many features that started organically within the Twitter ecosystem, the “ReTweet” function has been woven into the service’s functionality. Yes, the one-click RT button replicates the tweet, similar to before, but it has also removed our opportunity to add any kind of personal comment. The process may be easier, but the RT button isn’t always our friend. Another critique I have is that while the outbound RTs still gets woven into your readers timeline, the original tweeter often doesn’t see your support. The reason? RTs are no longer embedded within the Mentions tab, but now relegated to the Retweet tab. It doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but the “new Twitter” makes RTs far less visible.
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