A Twitter Wave That Began With ‘Sharknado’ Is Now a Trickle

On July 11th, 2013, a superstorm hit the internet. Meteorologically and ichthyologically dubious disaster movie Sharknado premiered on his Syfy and Twitter lost its collective consciousness.

Like most real-world storms, this event was the result of two forces converging: the old pop culture force of television and the new force of social media. “Sharknado” did well enough on cable, but was a big hit on Twitter. A maelstrom rains rain and carnivorous sharks over Los Angeles, and the ludicrous premise that only Ian Ziering stands between us and Doomsday served perfectly for the immediate reaction. drive-by jokes.

Subsequent despicable acts also seem to have depressed television ratings. Hundreds of thousands of viewers turned on the film after it opened, suggesting they learned via Twitter that the banana spectacle was unfolding.

“Sharknado” may not be long remembered as a movie, but it’s a historic icon of how millions of people shared their live TV experience at a particular time. Ten years later, that era is coming to an end, with Twitter and television changing.

Kind of like the foil tray frozen food that airlines used before Swanson dubbed them “TV Dinners”, Twitter wasn’t originally invented as an adjunct to tubes. But it turned out to be a delicious accompaniment to have on your lap during a show. It was live and linear, like a telecast. He has turned the whole world into an impromptu “mystery science theater”.

Of course, there were many Twitters in parallel: Twitter about politics, Twitter about sports, black Twitter, weird Twitter. But Twitter and TV were linked like extreme weather and marine predators.may tweet rear read a book or go to the movies. Twitter is particularly well-suited for the immediate, real-time experience of watching TV shows as they air.

Founded in 2006, the platform was born at a time when television was on the rise in cultural prominence, with ambitious and topical appointment series proliferating. “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” premiered during screenings. Twisty series like ‘Scandal’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ provided great moments that regularly trended. Twitter has helped me watch great TV and rummage through the trash. It was also a way of saying, “Isn’t this great?” And “What the hell are we looking at?”

From the beginning, television has been a social medium as well as an isolating medium for those who listen to stories in their living rooms. When the first sets were unveiled as curiosities in the 1940s, audiences gathered at the bar to watch a boxing match. The biggest TV show of the year, the Super Bowl, has become a secular holiday gathering comparable to Christmas. Also, before the telecommuting era began, networks were aware of the “water cooler effect” in the office.

Twitter has made watch parties global. We solicited comments and conversations from fans and critics.Series creators log on to participate and in some cases fight, with the audience. that is, feedback loop Because the show reacts to it or opposes it.

Twitter also had grander ambitions and darker influences, such as the Arab Spring and the 2016 presidential campaign. But Twitter on TV wasn’t entirely about escapism. For example, it facilitated conversations about how “Thrones” used and exploited sexual violence. The film helped deconstruct debates and election nights as communally as “American Idol” did.

It also meant that we were more susceptible to issues across Twitter such as trolls, harassment, and general mood deterioration.

The virtue of social media is determined by the people who use it. Once President Donald J. Trump took office, he used Twitter several times a day as a tool to shock the nation and gain attention, many of which were cultural events such as the NFL protests and “Roseanne.” It was a hot topic, but there was a feeling that every day was a battle on the site. . That attitude was reflected in users who considered themselves soldiers, forever fighting to shift the discourse front an inch or two in the right direction.

Next up was Tesla CEO and Twitter power user Elon Musk, who paid $44 billion for the dubious honor of becoming chief poster officer in 2022. He ran the site haphazardly. There have been new accusations, restrictions, and outages, as well as the return of tweeters who were banned for abuse and misinformation.

But beyond that, Musk only gave off the feeling that the most offensive aspect of the site was his favorite part. “I’d much rather be attacked by strangers on Twitter,” he said. recently posted, “Rather than indulge in the fake happiness of Instagram that hides the pain.” Good luck with that advertising slogan!

Like all feedback on Twitter, mine can be easily misinterpreted as universal in my experience. I tweeted less a few years ago and haven’t posted much since last fall. Not so much because of business or political objections, but because I didn’t want the site to make me feel like I was showing my nerves. Now that I’m lurking there, the feeding is noticeably slower than before. Things still happen in the world and on TV, but not in my timeline.

We know Twitter is still active for other communities and users, from niche fan groups to mass enthusiasts who bought blue verified checks when their owners started selling like increase. sneech star.

But in my corner of the app, with fans and critics flocking to riff on TV and the real-life events it conveys, it feels like the end of an era. Even the “Succession” finale, which made headlines among my intimate group of TV and media geeks, felt like a drop next to the massive Tweetwatch of the 2010s.

The end of that era isn’t just for Twitter. Television itself has changed since 2006. Streaming has made things less live and simulcast. Chances are, you haven’t finished watching Season 2 of “The Bear,” or you might have finished it by breakfast time on the first day of the show. Conversations about live news and non-sports television are functionally similar to conversations about movies and books.

The world of social media is also different. That energy has shifted to platforms like TikTok that divide the user base between creators and commenters, producers and consumers, rather than facilitating conversation. Even startups looking to replace Twitter may not be able or unwilling to replicate Twitter.

Meta competitor Threads launched without the key feature that makes Twitter what it is: the ability to read the tweets of people you follow in chronological order. That may change, but the live-feed approach that once made Twitter the unparalleled TV second screen isn’t necessarily a priority for tech businesses in 2023.

And again, overgeneralizing from my experience, users may not even want a second Twitter. I have been a heavy Twitter user for over ten years. I loved it until it stopped. We made connections, gained followers, generated ideas, and had fun. But it also often became a second voice of anger in my head. Would you like to exchange it for another one? (Okay, God help me, participated threads. )

People always want to talk to people about things that excite them. Perhaps the next TV conversation will be in a smaller, more bespoke format community than I can imagine as a non-tech entrepreneur.

But just as the big three television networks amassed huge audiences in the 20th century and then lost audiences to cable and the Internet, so too has television’s fascination. bring the whole world One big group chat may be over. This is how the phenomenon ends. It ends with a cry instead of Sharknado.

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