There’s a brand new hub on the world wide web to share your thoughts only for them to be mined by data bots that will try to sell you transitional fall clothes in two to four weeks. You’ve almost definitely heard of it. It’s called Threads and its Meta’s response to Twitter as Twitter continues to sink into Elon Musk’s quicksand of a business plan.
Threads debuted on July 6, and was almost instantaneously populated by A-listers, brands, and plebeian Twitter refugees looking for a Musk-free platform. I was immediately suspicious at the speed at which the migration occurred: Is Meta incentivizing celebrities to join or post on the platform? There’s just no way Oprah and Karlie Kloss, who are both already on Threads, are that eager to use it. Alas, Meta did not respond to my inquiry.
Because Threads is linked to Instagram, users can import their followings from there, which means the popular kids stay popular. Threads is perfect for celebrities comforted by the sterility of Instagram and not yet ready to take on the algorithmic bedlam of TikTok. I can’t imagine the rise of any @dril or @Horse_ebooks equivalents on this new platform.
For full disclosure, I have not joined Threads. From a medical standpoint, my brain and thumbs cannot handle another social media platform. There’s also the fact that Threads isn’t legal in Europe because of data sharing regulations, which gives me some pause. But in all honesty, the real reason is that I haven’t seen a single fun, funny, or messy post enticing me to hand over more of my info to Meta.
In fact, the content that’s leaking over from Threads to the platforms I’m still squatting on has actively discouraged me to stay away. “Welcome to Gay Twitter” disgraced talk show host Ellen DeGeneres posted. What? “I’m a firm believer that true love exists and that forever is real. What mantras do you live by?” Jennifer Lopez (or someone employed by Jennifer Lopez) wrote at the end of last week. OK? Dane Cook went on a hellishly boring spiel as if the new platform was a new planet. “Fuck I might actually be having fun today,” he wrote. I’m not inclined to spend time anywhere Dane Cook is having fun.
I know this criticism is rich coming from someone still actively using Twitter during its Musk era, but the early posts from Threads are making me yearn for the early, messy, unfiltered days of the bird app. Before celebrities were fluent in social media and before hamburger chains got in beefs (sorry) with one another, there was a delightful chaos on the app.
Earlier celebrity tweets had no ulterior motive or branding aspect. No one was trying to make money off of us—or at least they hadn’t figured out how to yet. Celebrities tweeted like hour-old foals learning to use their legs: aimless and adorable. (They were just like us!)
“About to go to wales for 4 weeks,” Tom Holland told us in his first-ever tweet in 2009. Love that for you, Tom! In 2011, Martha Stewart shared a photo of a cow along with the letter L. (One of life’s great blessings is that the tweet remains up.) Lena Dunham pioneered early cancel culture by posting a photo of herself wearing a scarf like a hijab in 2012. Almost every single thing Kevin Durant has ever tweeted reminds me that he is indeed the one running his Twitter account, including his 2011 offer to drink Scarlett Johannson’s bath water.
Twitter’s kooky early days were mostly due to none of us having much experience with social media. The joke from skeptics at the time was something along the lines of, “Why do I care what someone had for lunch?” And we didn’t care! But we still got to know! Tom Holland spent four weeks in Wales. It’s such useless information that the true innocuousness of it is charming. He isn’t telling us to sell us anything or promote a tour. It’s just where he is going to be. It’s as useful as a text from your dad alerting you to a sale on frozen peas at your hometown grocery store. Copy that.
And even though things smoothed over in the following years and celebrity brands coalesced around their social media personas, that lawlessness still sort of remained in the DNA of the platform. In 2015, Kylie Jenner was still demanding answers about chemtrails. In April of this year, Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain crowdsourced recommendations for a Chinese tutor in New York City.
The early days of Threads have none of this chaotic delight; it is decidedly filtered, which makes it decidedly less appealing. The speed at which celebrities hopped on this new horse, like I said, feels suspicious. It isn’t their first rodeo. They know how to lasso in followers based off of user engagement data. (It’s also so bland. It’s like everyone is Brie Larson tweeting, “Who said food can’t be fun?” It elicits an angry “what the fuck are you talking about?” from me, which is very distinct from the enchanted “what the fuck are you talking about?” I ask upon seeing Martha’s L/cow tweet.)
I am not on social media to learn about tour dates or upcoming movies. I want to steal small glimpses of celebrities’ weird, contradictory, and boring selves, but I think those days are over. I do not care what J.Lo is saying her mantra is, and if that is what Threads has to offer, my mantra is “I will never sign up.”