I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?
-- Cypher, The Matrix
Elon Musk is doing us all a favor.
We should probably thank him for it.
No, no, we really should. We should thank Elon Musk.
Oh, you know, not for destroying a platform that some of us, like Yours Truly here for example, have invested over a decade in, slowly building an audience, writing the content people actually come to Twitter for.
I don't mean we should thank him for vaporizing that effort, because that's infuriating.
No. Not that.
I mean we should thank Elon Musk for firing most of Twitter's employees, then using his massive platform to ridicule and harass them and send hordes of his drooling violent sycophants to destroy their lives. Thanks, Elon!
We should thank him for the Twitter Files. For releasing the internal corporate emails of his predecessor, the ones any rational person would interpret as nothing other than people doing their jobs. But we no longer live in a rational nation, and thanks to Elon Musk, the conspiracy nuts, the foreign agents bent to our destruction, and those determined to burn everything to the ground now have more fuel for the fire.
Oh yes, we should thank Musk for giving voice to the absolute worst elements of our society, the mean little trolls, the racists, the bigots, the misogynists, the violent nationalists, the self-proclaimed Nazis, the Ultra MAGAs, the proudly stupid, the deliberately ignorant, the bullies, the chaos agents, those who hate for hate's sake, the conspiracy nuts, the antivaxxers, the religious lunatics, the seditionists and insurrectionists and the violent howling mob of unhinged bomb throwers. Thanks to Elon Musk, they now not only have a voice, they have full command of the narrative and can spin themselves as victims and martyrs, just as their kind always has to justify their violent hate.
We should thank Elon for raising up the knuckle-draggers, the Brown Shirts, the goons, the barbarians who would gleefully tear down the fundamental institutions of civilization, civil rights, national infrastructure, equality under the law, education, social safety nets, justice, science, et al, and who would cast doubt on the integrity of democracy and the very worth of civilization itself in order to replace it all with selfish libertarianism, fanatical religion, and violent anarchy.
It's freedom of speech, not freedom of reach, says Musk.
Clever. Catchy. And completely arbitrary.
And so, we should thank Musk for his random autocratic style of unfettered capitalist greed where you never know what's going to get your voice promoted, or more likely suspended, de-platformed, ruined, starved, and/or made into a target of the violent furious mob for some billionaire's amusement.
Twitter 2.0 has become the twisted fantasyland of a capricious mad god.
There are no rules, no appeal, no possible way to know what might offend, or amuse, Elon Musk from one moment to the next, a man who by his own admission finds most social interaction incomprehensible -- and there's the definition of irony if ever there was one.
Every day on Twitter under Musk is a minefield of dog turds and cat vomit that you must navigate in the dark, barefoot and off balance, ass backwards into the unknown.
Musk tells us that social media is the town square of democracy, that Twitter is about freedom of speech, and it is -- so long as you are willing to pay for that right, so long as you can afford to give a billionaire your money each month for the privilege of eating out of his garbage can, and so long as you don't make him mad or give offense to the wealthy. Because if you can't or you are unwilling to pay and bend the knee, well, then your voice no longer matters.
Freedom of speech and freedom of reach for $8 a month. What a bargain.
In a world run by the rich, only those who can pay are worth listening to.
Yes. Yes, indeed, we should all thank Musk for that, for showing us that world.
Twitter has become a Second Life simulation of that dystopian America.
Ironically, that's exactly what the Constitution was designed to protect us from.
The Constitution was literally designed to protect Americans from the capricious impulses of arbitrary power and to prevent some foreign-born despot from ruling over the nation.
Yet, again ironically, those most vocal in their fanatical sycophantic support of this new Twitter and its rule of self-declared absolutism are those who most vocally define themselves as Constitutionalists.
Of course, Twitter isn't the government and the Constitution doesn't apply to global social media platforms run by the world's richest man.
(Or second richest man, or whatever his status is today. The exact degree of his wealth and power hardly matters down among us pig shit covered peasants).
You see, Twitter is a bellwether for what an America, a world, run at the mercurial whims of fickle immoral unrestrained oligarchs would look like.
And it looks exactly like what our founders were most afraid of.
Anyone else find it particularly ironic that those self-styled "Alpha Men" who have spent most of their miserable pinch-faced lives bullying those born biologically male as betas, cucks, sissies, fags, queers, gay, girly, pussies...
... and demeaning those born biologically female as butch, dyke, tomboy, masculine, et al...
...are now somehow mad because they are being asked to call LGBTQ people by their preferred pronouns?
Musk's complaint is daily echoed by petulant conservative politicians who are right now on his platform decrying wokism. They seem to think the basic common courtesy of calling someone by their preferred address, be it their name or a pronoun, is some terrible form of oppression of the sort where you have to press #1 for English.
I am particularly boggled at the part where a man whose entire vast fortune was derived almost entirely from the work of science and engineering in the service of capitalism, now turns to unhinged conspiracy theories in an attack on science. That's what he's doing here, you know, by going after Dr. Fauci. That "gain-of-function" dog whistle. Musk knows, couldn't help but know, that gain-of-function is a common tool of virology and medical science, used by science the world over to prepare for and anticipate possible harmful viral mutations of common diseases. Without gain-of-function testing, and loss-of-function, you wouldn't have many common vaccines, or at least not in time to do any good -- and the military would be without a method of protecting its troops from possible weaponization of things like small pox and anthrax.
There's simply no evidence of the accusations perpetuated by Musk in the second paragraph above.
In fact, the evidence shows just the opposite, i.e. that Dr Fauci and those scientists like him have quite literally saved the lives of billions.
But blaming experts, the "elites" for some imagined crime combined with the idea that common basic courtesy and respect for others is somehow something something gazpacho OMG NAZIS! is exactly the sort of thing the Nazis themselves actually did to justify their own sense of victimization.
Musk knows it. Republicans know it.
They do. Because you notice they never actually provide any specifics.
Oh no! We're being oppressed by pronouns!
Under the Nazis, Jews and others deemed undesirable, such as LGBTQ people, were murdered wholesale in the camps.
Under the Soviets, those arbitrarily deemed criminals, such as again LGBTQ people, were sent to the Siberian gulags to die.
In North Korea, they publicly execute people with antiaircraft guns at the whim of Kim Jong Un.
Under Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge murdered so many of their own people, the skulls of the dead were stacked in pyramids as high as a 3-story building.
In East Germany, the Stasi infiltrated every layer of society, turning paranoia into an artform where brother informed on brother and children on parents and people were disappeared into the brutal national security apparatus and never seen again.
In Argentina, they threw people out of airplanes for fun.
We still have no idea how many of his own citizens Idi Amin Dada murdered. Or Baby Doc Duvalier. Or Saddam Hussein for that matter.
Here in America, we once kidnapped Africans from their homeland and turned them into farm equipment, literally made them into livestock and forced them to work in the fields. And the genocide of Native Americans, well, we really have no idea how many died and we really didn't care as our government herded the destroyed ragged remnants of their civilization onto forgotten reservations -- until we needed the resources of that land, I mean.
But all of that horror pales in comparison to the oppression of ... pronouns.
The "woke mind virus" as Musk calls it.
Woke. "The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them." That's woke, as defined by lawyers representing Florida State Governor, Ron DeSantis, who is right now in court defending his administration's authority to apparently perpetuate that very systematic injustice instead of correcting it.
The belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.
To quote Morpheus, huh.
I mean, the same people complaining about "woke," about "cancel culture," are the very people complaining on Twitter about how they are personally being systematically persecuted by American society and "cancelled" due to their beliefs.
I hate to keep using the word "irony," but there's a degree of perverse hilarity when a man who feels pronouns are oppression named his own most recent offspring "X Æ A Xii" which Musk says should be pronounced "X Ash A Twelve."
Not to mention that for a guy who is often referred to as being "redpilled" both by himself and by his conservative anti-woke fans...
... there's a stunning lack of self-awareness, given that the term "redpilled" itself entered the anti-woke vocabulary via a film literally written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski -- who are perhaps two of the most prominent and influential trans women in history.
As I said, repeatedly, ironic.
And more than just a bit bizarre.
Of course, for Musk, it's personal.
And what of those caught in the middle?
Those like me.
Like most of you.
The ones who actually create the actual content of social media?
The ones currently losing followers and being driven off the platform?
Musk's business model makes zero sense -- and I'm being charitable by assuming there is such a thing as an actual model or any sense to his behavior whatsoever.
I mean, what is Musk's end goal?
He says he wants to make money, that Twitter must be profitable.
Okay. I can see that. The guy spent $44 billion buying the place, he probably needs to make that back at some point, if only to pay off his creditors. But, instead of building a platform where content creators attract more users, and thus advertisers, and thus profit, he's turning Twitter into a wasteland that attracts only a particular sort of self-abuse.
Musk is gambling that reinstating Donald Trump, James Woods, Laura Loomer, et al, will attract users.
And maybe it will.
But that is a very limited pool and those aren't the sorts of users who mainstream advertisers are willing to engage.
And if those who make and sell art, actors who make movies, manufactures who sell soap and frozen pizzas and gewgaws you can't get on Amazon, bloggers, YouTubers, writers, comics, cartoonists, buskers, donut makes and small business owners, and those who don't give a damn about American politics (oh, you forgot about that, didn't you? That a significant number of Twitter's users aren't Americans), or even just people who want to grow a following by tweeting cat pictures, i.e. users who can no longer build a business on the platform because they can't depend on Twitter to establish and obey its own rules, to be reliable, to be supportive, to be responsive to their needs, then they won't build a business on that platform.
And thus that platform will never be profitable. Q.E.D.
And what does that leave Musk?
Because platforms of anti-woke angry users already exist. Parler. Gab. Truth Social. And they're not the sort of places that grow much beyond a certain point, or attract advertisers, or turn a profit. They become a toxic stew of hate and spammers so vile that even the most fanatical MAGA hat loses interest and wanders back to mainstream platforms specifically because there are liberal voices there to scream at.
And those places, those platforms of anti-wokism, are hardly bastions of free speech.
In fact, they become incubators of the very oppression Musk says he fears above all else.
Owning the libs turns out to be a terrible business model.
And once again, as a metaphor, it's a lousy way to run America.
We've survived by hiding from them, by running from them. But they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys. Which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.
-- Morpheus, The Matrix