I knew I felt a strange disturbance in the Force this morning. It was as though millions of voices had cried out in terror and been suddenly silenced. It wasn’t the news that Peter Mayhew will be reprising his role as Chewbacca. That was good news.

No. Something had been altered on the Internet.

It is one thing when they change the privacy settings. I have already slid all my sliders as far from privacy as possible. Privacy, as I often maintain, is just an unpleasant reminder that you are not a celebrity.

But the layout?

Here is what Twitter looks like now.


Here is what it will look like, afterwards.


(And they’re going to replace me with Channing Tatum.)

I hate it when they change things on the Internet. Given how much time I spend staring intently into a glowing screen rather than paying attention to my actual live surroundings, any update to Facebook or Twitter or even Gmail is basically as though someone replaced all my furniture, changed the season and replaced all the ducks with other, different ducks. They may well have done that, actually. I have been staring at my phone this whole time. The Internet is where we live now. You can’t just reupholster it, willy-nilly.

Especially not like this.

Specifically, the layout of Twitter, which will now look as much like Facebook as it is possible to look without actually being Facebook. Are you just trying to drive everyone into the arms of Snapchat, or, uh, Pinterest, or PayPal, or wherever the kids are hanging out these days?

Twitter is the hip place that you go to get away from Facebook, because your mom and your friends’ mothers are not all there to Like all your statuses in a pointed way and then comment, “Sounds like you need to get more sleep!” This is like discovering that your mistress has just undergone extensive plastic surgery to look more like your wife.

Twitter and Facebook are always at war, and if you don’t believe me, look at the hashtags.

 

Facebook is a beat behind. Facebook is where the mom is. Facebook is like a special circle of Hell where your friends are all getting married all the time.

Maybe that is not a function of the social networks themselves, but merely of being in your twenties, but at least you used to be able to get a running start before you had to stare at a whole album of pictures of a wee toddler crawling slowly to the left with a sort of pensive or constipated expression.

Twitter was an escape from that.

Maybe this is the best design. Maybe this is not a case of Twitter becoming Facebook or Facebook melding into Twitter, but of both of them moving closer to the Platonic Ideal Form of what the Internet should look like. Maybe this is our first breath of the new post-literate Internet, where no one has to read more than 140 letters in a row at any given time and you are judged by your pictures. If it is, I don’t like it already.

You used to have to wait a long time for the things you knew to be obsolete. It took a generation to move from the hand-loom to the power loom, and even longer to move from the herd of sheep to the herd of polyester. By the time you had to stand athwart history yelling “THIS CHANGE MUST STOP!” you were already wrinkled and old. Now everything races through the same cycles from prevalence to obsolescence at a thousand revolutions a minute. Remember Myspace?

Mostly I am afraid because — if Twitter turns into Facebook, what does Facebook become? Myspace? And if Facebook becomes Myspace, what happens to me?

This change must stop.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.