Tuesday Talk*: The Scent of Musk

My old friend, Ken, announced that he was leaving twitter yesterday. His reasoning was fair and internally consistent with his oft-repeated position on free speech.

This is exactly how it’s supposed to work, as I’ve been arguing for years. Twitter — or whoever runs it — has rights. I have rights. If one of us disagrees with the other’s exercise of rights, we can part company. That, not government regulation, is the way to do it. I’m repulsed by the flood of triumphant bigotry and trolling, and by Musk’s sad-lonely-boy leaning into the arms of freaks who embrace him in his fruitless quest for love. But I’d never ask the government to stop it. I’m voting with my feet, exactly the way I’ve been telling people to do for years.

A number of other people have similarly expressed the view that they do not choose to be part of the content twitter is selling as well. In contrast, I twitted that I have no plan to flee the platform, in protest or otherwise.

When twitter first became a thing, I chose not to participate. That changed not because I suddenly realized that 140 characters was sufficient to express serious thoughts, but because it was where the fun was. It wasn’t about twitter, per se, but about the people on twitter engaging with the other people on twitter.

Now that Elon Musk has taken over, restoring the accounts of some very nasty people, revealing the games played by prior management, and twitting some seriously bizarre stuff that one would not expect to come from an adult of modest sentience, does that change the calculus? Musk had nothing to do with either my thoughts or twits before, and I fail to see why he would matter to me now. He bought twitter? So what? Does one buy a Tesla because one adores Musk or because one chooses to drive a Tesla?

There was a time when the scent of musk was popular as a perfume. I never cared for it and found the odor off-putting. So I chose not to use it, but I didn’t care if anyone else liked it and chose to emit the smell of musk. I still don’t.

There have been calls for people to move their twitting to new platforms, such as Mastodon. I signed up to nab my name just in case, but before you do, you have to acknowledge its rules.

How those rules can or will be applied is a mystery, but whoever gets to make the calls as to what’s acceptable is unlikely to see things the way I do. They may be allowed to decide what constitutes harassment to them, and, not being a mod, I have no say in the matter. This isn’t my gig. There’s another site called “Post,” but there’s a waiting list to join. I’m not really a stand-in-line for something I don’t desperately want kinda guy.

Much as I might find it unpleasant and a bad use of my time and attention to hang around in a place where nasty people spew dumb right wing nonsense, I would similarly find it undesirable to be in an echo chamber of wokeiosity, scolds informing me to be better, by which they mean do as I’m told, mediocre white man that I am. I don’t want to and I don’t have to. If that means a million smug little boys and girls don’t like me, I can live with that.

Is this the end of twitter? Will the public square, albeit unofficial, shut its doors? Should I join my pal Ken and vote with my feet? Has the notion of social media, that place where we can all engage for better or worse in our new digital metaverse, burned itself out like so many of its virtual predecessors that seemed to control the future until, one day, then imploded and disappeared?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.