Reading Response C -- Conversation 3, Attention (2017)

Ayham: I wonder if that’s related to the social responsibility question. As a founder, should you consider pulling the plug as part of your responsibility?

Bryce: I definitely think so. Knowing when to stop is super important.

Ayham: Curious to hear Dan talk about this idea of the healthy ecosystem and the growing applications—do you consider this?

Dan: That’s a great question. When is sunsetting a social network a positive act? I certainly have that reaction to all the mea culpas from Twitter and Facebook, thinking to myself, “These guys are super rich. Why don't they just turn the thing off?” It’s kind of terrible, and I know it’s realistically hard to do.

Bryce: In that respect, I find a very interesting example because it’s something that was cut off before it could prosper. Not in the way we consider social networks now, but during its time it was quite influential—obviously among a very small and dedicated user base, however.

I never really got into it, but friends of mine and people who I see talk about it on the internet really valued it, and then it stopped. Then they had to build something else like it.

Dan: So maybe its death was actually a good thing, if that’s what you're getting at? The forest fire allowing a new thing to grow could potentially be a good thing. The idea of all these new platforms being like Frankensteins of the old ones. Can be good, can be bad.

Well I don’t think turning off any social media site is the correct solution to making it end. After all if one media site ends, then there would be a huge incentive to create a new one and the cycle starts all over again. Plus there is a large community, as is obvious, that use these sites as part of a daily routine and suddenly pulling the plug would cause a huge uproar. There are even jobs centered around how to create and influence a company’s social media presence because they know that these sites can have a large influence on their consumer base.

The “bad” social media sites had to come from somewhere; the idea did not just spring into existence and become a global hit overnight. I am unaware of the history but it is likely that sites like Twitter and Facebook pulled their ideas from small auxiliary sites that had a small, yet dedicated fan base and then with the help of marketing and investors grew into what they are today. Maybe it’s not the idea of a social media site that is the problem, but its propagation throughout the internet.