So you—like 30 million others around the globe—have opted to download Threads, Meta’s fierce contender to the bird app and so-called Twitter killer. It’s hilarious to note that Meta isn’t even trying to hide its blatant attempt at creating a carbon copy of its competitor—the name alone, is a direct reference to the ‘threads’ that Twitter users love to create to file their favourite tweets together. Yet be it peer pressure, the unwanted trepidation that your business might be missing out on an untapped market, or simply the desire to rebel Elon Musk’s ridiculous rampage of new rules, it’s quite clear that Threads is capitalising on all of the above for its necessary success.
Suffice to say, as loyal as I am to Twitter (it’s the first thing I check every morning, if anyone’s asking), I undoubtedly fell into the latter category and caved to Meta’s Instagram-linked application. Granted, the integration was seamless; within mere seconds, I was looking at a brand new feed of—well, threads—that conjured up a strange visual intersection between the Instagram comments section and my Twitter ‘For you’ page. A couple more hours of fiddling around with the application and I’ve swiftly arrived at my verdict: to put it simply, it’s not giving.
the moment threads told me to import my instagram follows and i saw the innocent faces of my rl friends and family
they aren’t meant to see the shit we post here
— Daniel Howell (@danielhowell) July 6, 2023
Call it what you may, but anyone who’s been a long time user of the bird app would probably feel the same way. There are a few things to unpack here but we’ll start at the most obvious one: the ‘following’ list. Whilst the link-up to Instagram might have been the easy way in for its users, what it means for everyone is that we’re essentially auto-populating our feeds with thoughts of all the people we’ve been following on Instagram for the past decade. Not sure about you, but the reason I’ve been so reliant on Twitter everyday is because it’s offered me an online community like no other. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a network of accounts and tweets that are wonderfully aligned to my interests; the undeniable combinative power of its smart ‘Topics’ feature and the intuitive algorithm working its magic. More importantly? The vibrant digital community I’ve come to know and love on Twitter is wholly different from the people I’ve been following on Instagram, and now Threads. I could probably count the number of real-life friends I follow on Twitter on one hand.
Instagram may have started as a photo-sharing app but over the years, it’s become very much a business tool. Everyone from social media personalities and celebrities to the most exalted of designer brands have had to visibly exist on the application, and in some sense, our Instagram personalities have become synonymous with the more public, curated versions of ourselves. With that in mind, no matter how much ‘photo dumping’ and real-time updates we may like to do, nothing about this word-led version of Instagram is going to will me to share the weirdest, most manic snippets of my life for all of my second cousins, ex-teachers and colleagues to read. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to know what their somewhat curated ‘BTS’ life looks like either.
@naycook_ When Instagram copies Twitter. Thoughts on threads? #threads #meta #twitter #comedy ♬ original sound – Nay Cook Nelson
Should you not opt to ‘follow’ that extensive list of people you’ve already been following on Instagram however, the application actually feeds you with a whole bunch of accounts—some definitely less welcome than others. Though that could probably be fixed once you begin to follow more people that’s actually further up your alley. There is also currently no way to separate your ’following’ feed from threads that you might be interested in—think the ‘Explore’ page on Instagram or the ‘For You’ feature on Twitter and TikTok—but that might come along with the application’s later developments. The lack of anything akin to ‘Spaces’ on Twitter is also painfully jarring; if I could entertain the possibility of chatting to Epik High’s Tablo on a random Sunday morning, then why would I choose to do anything but?
But as with everything on the Internet, its longevity had already been questionable right from the get go. Remember BeReal? But perhaps, only time will tell. For now, if it isn’t about to offer up anything new that Twitter hasn’t already mastered, consider this blasé Threads user inactive, while intermittently toggling back to my alternate life in the Twitterverse.