Elon Musk spent $44 billion to buy twitter. What a maroon. I own twitter, and I didn’t spend a dime. When twitter first appeared, I refused to play. I said then I had no thoughts that could be reduced to 140 characters, as it was when it forced people to be disciplined in their expression to fit within the confines of a twit.
Do you really want to know what book I’m reading, in real time? What about my thoughts on the Giant’s chances of making it to the playoffs? Or how many cups of coffee I drink every morning. As I said to Kevin, we already have too much information. This is just way too much.
Seriously, who has the time for this? Who cares? If you want to know what’s going on in the life of the people you care about, speak to them. Can’t you see the kid with the crackberry flipping back and forth between Facebook and twitter and blogs and email, all while you’re sitting there trying to have a conversation. He’s living online and ignoring the real person in front of him. This is progress?
As it turned out, it was, and I was wrong, and I joined the twitters. As of this moment, I follow 27 people on twitter, which is far too many. Can you have a conversation with 27 people at the same time? I can’t. And yet most people follow many more than me. Now that twits (not tweets, another holdover from another age) have been expanded to allow 280 characters, and the terminally verbose creates strings of twits rather than suffer the real labor of thinking, the cacophony of twitter can be insufferable if you don’t limit what you see to that which you find worthy of your time and attention. I really should cut back on my followers.
And when the urge strikes, I twit. Sometimes it’s an effort by me to be informative, illuminating or challenging. Other times I can be a tad snarky or cranky. For reasons that are unclear, I’ve amassed over 19,000 followers, most of whom follow me because they want to see what I say. Some “hate follow” me because I outrage them. Whatever. I’m fairly confident that if I was reliably tribal in my expressions, I would have more followers, as people seem to prefer to see twits that validate their views no matter how insipid or false, and I am a very unreliable voice when it comes to backing the tribe. People don’t like me when I do that. Some really hate me for it, and suffer the self-indulgent delusion that I should care deeply about winning their approval because they are the center of their own universe. People really hate it when you refuse to give a damn about winning the approval of randos.
My time on twitter is very limited, unlike most people and how some people assume I use twitter. I will go on, scan the twits, retwits and quote-twits of my 27 followers, and perhaps do a few retwits or quote-twits of my own, and get off in the course of a few minutes, and then not look again for hours. Weirdly, an occasional twit will occasion a good many replies or tens of thousands of likes or hates, and when I return, I see that something happened in my absence. I then “mute the conversation” as I have neither the time nor interest in scrolling through them. I care about the thoughts of friends. Others, not so much.
Neither a blue checkmark nor a great many followers affects my concern for their thoughts. On the other hand, some unverified twitterers with only a handful of followers who say things I consider thoughtful may be very influential to me. If I think you are smart and thoughtful, I care what you think. It’s got nothing to do with how important, loved (or hated) you are, but whether you twitted something of value. But that’s just me.
Over the past month, many people have obsessed about what’s become of twitter now that Musk has taken the job of chief janitor and attention troll. Will Musk kill twitter?
While obsessive users of the site love to drag it, the specter of its demise quickly changed the tone from jaded self-loathing to the heartfelt camaraderie of sitting shiva. Even though it’s been far from clear that death is imminent, sometimes the mood of Twitter changes based on some bit of news — Donald Trump getting Covid, for example — and everyone feels part of something.
Suddenly, post-sale, the site felt like a family saying its goodbyes to a beloved but deeply problematic uncle. For a time, the endless fights and insults and conflict seemed to be replaced by warm memories of the funniest, most memorable moments together. Snark gave way to earnestness as people realized that something titanically important had been happening for years on the site that could never quite be replaced.
Chris Hayes makes some valuable points about twitter’s virtues, even if they are more a reflection of his use of twitter than twitter itself. He’s not the most self-aware guy. Similarly, the concerns for which he sits shiva are more likely those of the people he follows, whose views he values, as his tribe fears Musk will allow the people he abhors to say bad things.
Why should that matter? When Trump was still twitting, it meant no more or less to me than any other person I didn’t follow. If you don’t care to see twits of people or ideas that you find idiotic or “gross,” don’t look. In my twitter world, I see what I choose to see. If something finds its way into my timeline that I deem undesireable, I mute it. Poof, it’s gone. And as far as it matters to me, the entirety of twitter is what I choose to allow into my tiny sliver of the twitter universe and no more. That’s because I own twitter. So do you. No one, including that maroon, can change that.