SO...Elon Musk has paid $43 billion to buy Twitter outright, with the intent of making it his own private company. Or rather, plaything. He says he plans to bring back free speech there.
What can this amount to? Not sure. I'm just talking here about how I feel about it.
The consequence, though, is certainly that he's going to let all the racist, misogynist crazies who have been banned from the site back on, and why would you do that unless you also planned to let them resume their vicious activities--or at least simply do nothing to stop anything? This is a guy who thought he had the right to (based on nothing but spite) slander someone as a pedo. He intends Twitter to be answerable to no one but him, and one can assume that this means he will use it as a way of pumping and dumping Tesla and other stocks, and to promote Tesla and SpaceX, but otherwise he'll probably not have it moderated at all.
He also says he plans to take it away from the ad-supported model. Does he intend then for it to become a subscription service, or for it to generate no money at all? But the reason why Twitter even has any importance is because of the amount of money it generates, and that is through advertising. It's this that also makes it worth the attention--and ad money--of corporations, and why Twitter is treated as such a serious thing and all other similar platforms, even harmless ones like Mastodon, might as well not exist. If not for that, it becomes the world's biggest Delphi Forum. If Musk also helps it become Gab, then it will end up with no real currency whatsoever, just a sludgepit most people won't want to visit.
Then again, in a lot of ways it already is a huge sludgepit. I must confess, part of me hopes Musk ruins it so that I won't want to go there, and possibly move back to writing here or on Patreon
. For one thing, there are no length restrictions, but also, I should have kept up on this blog anyway; Twitter and Facebook sucked all that away. I'm less active on Facebook than I had been, mainly using it to keep up with my friends but not much more. It's Twitter I've been more compulsive about since I started there in 2009, after saying I would never
join Twitter, finding even the word "tweet" kind of stupid.
Then once I started, it was kind of hard to stop, and the challenge of having to say things within character limits, I think, helped sharpen my writing, though that didn't really transfer to anything else except better social media posts, perhaps. I haven't done a lot of writing as such, by itself, for a long time. It's largely just what goes into my comics. Which is a lot(I haven't been neglecting my comics for Twitter, as you'll see from all the covers to the right), but I lost touch with doing this, where before I was very prolific. But then, not many ever read this blog, even though it's been around since 2002. Blogs themselves are now laughably out of vogue. And not writing in bite-size once more is very strange; Twitter did terrible things, I'm sure, to my attention span. Not to mention the same is true of readers: people are now conditioned to instantly make up their minds about a very short and quickly articulated burst of ideas.
Before Facebook and Twitter, when I wrote on this blog, that was it. I might share it on this or that message board or with friends, and somehow it had a lot of readers, but i have no idea why because I don't know how, apart from Google maybe, they were coming across it. But judging from stats at the time people were. Not millions--more like hundreds--but steady. How did that happen back then? It's hard to recall. And while I surely wanted lots of readers, I had no way then but advertising--which I have never paid for--of letting people know of it. But that didn't stop me writing regularly here, hoping somehow people would come across the posts; messages in bottles.
And in the last 2+ years of the Covid-19 crisis, of course people have to turn to social media, when robbed of the ability to speak in person. We've mostly been locked up for all this time. Even I, who has never been all that social--not easy anyway when I live in hills 2 miles away from anything else and haven't got a car--can only take so much lack of contact, and I loathe people.
But I find it interesting how people have forgotten their options, anyway.
When people get booted from Twitter(which I have not, I'm very much still there
), they complain they've been silenced, but they haven't. The fact they can plausibly claim they have been, that Elon Musk calls it the modern town square--well, perhaps it is, but that's a problem, isn't it? When people get booted from Twitter or Facebook, they can still go on the web and speak, just as I am right now--just not in those highly visible places. Because most people go to Twitter and Facebook to read a post than places like this anymore. There's no feedback, no quick serotonin hit here, you have to think a bit more about what you're saying or people will just decide tl:dr and not finish. Why, I'll bet you're about not to finish right now.
Because it encourages quick bursts, hot takes, and as many of them as possible (with no edit function, which Musk claims he will change, which is the only possible good thing here), and has made people remarkably careless about saying things that could instantly alienate the whole human race from them. I can't think of an equivalent we had before the web. Obviously there were forums, message boards, chat rooms, and most of those were full of users who came from somewhere. But how?
But I feel like I want to write longer things now, and frankly, I don't think that many are listening anyway, so why not just write here again?
I find myself wishing Twitter would be destroyed by Musk to force me to go here instead, to this blog that is meaningless and invisible, but at least is mine. (well, Google's, but who cares; not them at this point certainly) It's kind of how when I find a TV show I like, I find myself wishing it would be cancelled so I would no longer feel compelled by habit to watch it. Twitter isn't that different.
Consider too how much of Twitter is spent not writing any tweets at all--we now have the word "doomscrolling," which means just mindlessly scrolling through Twitter waiting for a disaster to happen. Although nowadays there are so many disasters so regularly, it's certainly understandable, but we've really been like this ever since 9/11--it's just it started with us not being able to stop watching cable news because two solid weeks of constant replays of the towers coming down habituated us waiting for this stuff. It might come as a surprise to younger people that, even though things like CNN existed before, it wasn't generally normal to be keeping track of the news every hour and there was a certain amount of shame attached to watching too much TV, which was mainly how you would have done that then with anything like the compulsive attention we give it now. And that compulsive attention has been used as a vector to introduce anxiety and division into our brains faster and more regularly than we can critically judge. People like Musk, or Trump, or many others use that to inflict their fevered egos on us.
It's not normal to doomscroll. And it doesn't give you any more control over events. Think of the sheer amount of time eaten by that.
It might be better if Twitter dies.