There are 30 social media platforms that have more than 100.000.000 active users, as of February 2th, 2022. Their features overlap and thus make each other redundant. So what keeps them afloat is what I'll try to explore in this piece of writing.
Redundancy is a good thing when you're worried about the availability of a system. Social media platforms are, in layman's terms, the operating system of modern regimes.
Montesquieu used the phrase "trias politica" to describe the separation of powers in a state. Those are the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches that (must) act independently of each other. I am inclined to believe that in the next decade "trias politica" will be overthrown by social media.
Coming back to the redundancy of a system, having multiple social media platforms to ensure that society can continue its operation when one of them is malfunctioning is good.
But, in the case of social media, as it has been noted by the author of Normal Accidents, the redundancy led to decreased reliability. We have managed to overengineer social media platforms and now we are left with a more complex system, more prone to errors and accidents. Redundancy has created a shrinking of responsibility among workers eventually creating a system that operates at higher speeds but less safely.
Different social media platforms provide similar tools but appeal to certain tastes of workers. From stupidity to vanity, from egomania to a facade of inspiration there is a place for everyone.
These platforms, either willingly or unwillingly, are exploiting users so that they can increase their percentage of participation in the redundancy mechanism.
It is relatively easy to predict the decay of these platforms.
n is the number of components,
pi is the probability of failure of one component, and
p is the probability of a system failure.
There is a direct relationship between the number of components a system has to the probability of it failing. You can verify that this formula can be used for calculating the possibility of a social media platform failing by looking at Facebook.
It became such a complex system that it is destined to fail. And I am not referring to the engineering complexity rather than the political complexity.
The question remains. What keeps these platforms afloat?
The answer is nothing. The platforms are dying, but they are dissolving in the same rate as society does. We are never going to see them totally fail. At this point, our society would have also collapsed and we would be occupied with looking for food.
So, how should the sailor of the social media ocean stay afloat while the ships, islands, and islets are sinking towards Davy Jones' locker?
The answer is simple. Learn how to swim.