I just read that Musk has taken over Twitter, and the previous executives have left the building with no plans of returning. So, it’s Musk’s platform now. What will he do with it, and do I want to remain a part of it?
To be honest, Twitter has been a bumpy ride. It’s one of those places you can go to get constant emotional whiplash.
When it first became a thing, I didn’t see the point of it. What can someone say in 140 characters? They eventually doubled the length, but that’s still only enough room to write a few sentences. It’s no place to talk about topics with any sort of depth, unless you’re willing to create threads, chaining these tiny word bites one into the next.
With or without threads, Twitter is the place where nuance goes to die. People get passionate and shout short bursts of expletives at each other. While crafting insults, everyone reaches for the top shelf. The brevity welcomes creativity, but the impatience often gets people to wield the largest weapon in their arsenal, because really, only trolls and the truly masochistic wish to get into any sort of protracted Twitter war.
For a period of time, you can set your watch by the activity of the Russian bots that would show up and support whatever propaganda seemed most destructive to the US. There are still tons of bots. Some of them are kind of funny. Use the wrong word in your message and you might have a bot toiling in your replies, trying to get your attention and click on dubious links. Some days it felt like the entire place was populated with bots. Like Mars.
In spite of that, I made some wonderful friendships on Twitter. Through that platform, I found people I truly care about. I even got to meet a few them offline.
I started to really enjoy myself on Twitter when I realized how much it was like an afterparty at a convention. You float from conversation to conversation, sometimes participating, sometimes just listening, never staying for very long in one place, never really getting into anything too deep. You can talk about deep and personal things there, but that’s usually left to private messages, or the newly created Circles option. If you treat Twitter like an afterparty, the whole thing makes more sense. It’s loud, crowded, sometimes lonely, and always changing.
Not all change is good, and all parties must come to an end. I’m not leaving Twitter yet, but the writing is on the wall. Elon Musk is one of those guys that doesn’t understand the need for moderation. By that I mean, he’s an absolutist when it comes to free speech, even though absolute free speech is violence and anarchy. Again, nuance is required on that subject. I talked about it earlier in the month.
Not all speech should be protected. Weaponization of words should not be protected. This isn’t to say a person should be disallowed from being an asshole and saying hurtful things. It means that when someone uses speech to invade and destroy the privacy of others, or they use their speech to spread extremely damaging and harmful lies… that’s where speech should have some limits. It’s not easy. The line isn’t always clear. It’s important to make an effort to find the line and protect people. I do not believe Elon Musk is someone that is interested in looking for that line. I don’t think he believes there should ever be any limits put on speech.
So, when he reopens the door for a certain individual I do not want to talk about, that’s when I’ll depart the platform. I’ll delete my account. I didn’t go that for with Facebook, though I probably should have. I’ve enjoyed my time on social media, even though I think it’s a bit of a mistake. We need something better, and I’m not sure what that looks like.
Only 4 days left in October. I’m still not ready for November.