Twitter was going downhill before Elon Musk bought it. I can’t put a finger on why, but it felt to me as if some of the spirit had leaked out of it. It was becoming less collegial, more angry. Maybe that’s the fate of any social media platform … as more and more climb aboard, the pull of the lowest common denominator gets stronger. Holy shit, though, over the past three months the level of meanness and stupidity has increased tenfold, all due to changes instituted by the new owner, Elon Musk.
Just to focus on one change, remember those little blue checks that identified verified posters (and which came to mean elite posters, despite the elites trying to downplay it)? Now they’re for sale. The elites no longer have ’em, the rabble do, and a blue check next to someone’s name might as well be a little red MAGA hat.
And another. Pre-Musk, I followed one or two fascist accounts (Moms for Liberty, for example, because I write about book banning and they instigate a lot of it these days), so I’d see some fascist, white supremacist stuff from time to time. One of the basic things about Twitter is you’re only supposed to see stuff posted by people or organizations you follow, but somehow my feed today is full of stuff from people I wouldn’t follow in a hundred years. Some of it’s retweeted by accounts I do follow, but that can’t possibly account for all of it. I don’t know specifically what Musk changed to make that happen, but he definitely did something.
And now, Tucker Carlson? I wouldn’t stay in the same room with that guy. I’d cross the street to avoid sharing the sidewalk with him. Being part of Twitter now that Musk’s making it a platform for white supremacists to promote hate? Nope. Time to bail.
It’s easy to say the liberals and progressives who remain in the Twitter pot don’t realize the water’s getting hotter, but that’s not it. They know. They just afraid of losing their followers, which is how Twitter gets you (Facebook too, but that’s another story).
Look, I’m a nobody. I had less than 500 followers at my Twitter peak, and I’d been on the platform since 2008, posting thoughts and observations as pithy as those posted by face cards with six-figure follower counts. Now I’ve switched over to Mastodon, and in the three or four months I’ve been posting there have managed to attract all of seven followers. That’s the plunge into cold water the Twitter diehards fear, hoping Musk’ll come to his senses and save Twitter before the stupids destroy it completely. Good luck with that. Does he seem like someone capable of learning and changing to you? No, me either. If anything, he’ll double down.
To be frank, I haven’t found Mastodon a particularly friendly place, and I’m not just saying that because I have so few followers there. It’s clunky and difficult to use, and its long-term users seem proud of that. They also seem clannish and resentful of the influx of new members fleeing Twitter. I plan to check out BlueSky, the new social media platform Twitter’s founder and former owner is part of, if I ever get an invite. I’ll let you know. For now, here’s a link to my Mastodon account.
*The title of this post is a reference to the Birds Aren't Real movement
(which isn't actually real).
Buried lede department: I think we’ve decided to sell our house and move into a condo. And probably not a condo in Tucson but in Las Vegas. More on that as we start making actual plans.