Elon Musk is buying Twitter because… reasons. He likes free speech, or he doesn’t like content moderation, or he likes to show off for his fans, or he wants to stroke his ego in front of us all, or he wants to prove that the ultra rich can do whatever they damn well please, pick your poison.
And this has caused a bit of a panic in some. If you simply don’t like Elon that is certainly a good enough reason to dump the platform. And if you’re worried that he’s going to turn it into a toxic stew of harassment by entitled assholes… more so… then you might at least be eyeing the exits, looking for alternatives.
The whole state of affairs hasn’t exactly put a spring in my step.
But I am not running for the exits myself. Not yet at least.
To start with I am not sure where I would even go, except for “away.”
What am I going to do, move to Facebook? That would be a leap from the frying pan into a toxic waste fueled fire. Instagram… Facebook lite… is garbage except for cat and old car pictures (Fiat 124 Coupes for the win), Tumblr is garbage in general whether it is mostly porn this week or not, Google+ is long gone (and was garbage), LinkedIn is business Facebook and, unless you’re looking for a job, is a lot of self-promoting garbage.
Frankly, part of what appeals to me about Twitter is that people are limited to 280 characters. That keeps the amount of noise in one post down to a manageable level.
Of course, there are a bunch of “We’re going to make a better Twitter” alternatives out there, some of which planned to go full free speech relative to Twitter’s rather modest content moderation scheme… who really either planned to moderate even more harshly Twitter or found out the hard way that content moderation isn’t optional and free speech is a dubious proposition on social media for all sorts of legal, moral, and financial reasons.
Also we’re all a bunch of jerks really, and seem to remain so no matter where we go.
I do not subscribe to the “anonymity + audience = raging idiocy” school of thought, if only because I’ve been to Facebook and know full well that anonymity does even enter into it. People will say the most ignorant, offensive things you can imagine and post it with not only their name but their real life picture on it. And if there are even the most minor of consequences… which there so rarely are… they’ll be flabbergasted and complain about being censored and bring up the first amendment and what not. Sometimes I think we deserve all of this.
Anyway, I digress. I am not going to leave Twitter mostly because I am comfortable there and have, over the last dozen years, honed a list of people to follow who keep me informed on the things that interest me.
I am loathe to give up on that list. I wouldn’t even know where to find most of those people elsewhere on the internet. How would I ever get by not knowing how Alikchi’s epic year and a half long so far game of War in the Pacific turns out? Priorities man.
I am also not in the panic some are in.
Elon Musk can be a chaotic, immature, mercurial, self-absorbed, egotistical twat, but he isn’t a complete idiot. He was born rich, sure, but he has made himself obscenely rich since then, so he has something going for him. He hasn’t, like certain ex-presidents of the United States, blown his father’s fortune on bad investments and only pretends to be a billionaire.
As such I don’t think he’ll burn Twitter to the ground by removing all moderation or whatever people think will happen. Rich people don’t stay rich that way. They stay rich by getting their good investments, like Tesla, to buy out their bad investments, like Solar City, to stick the bad decisions on the stock holders.
Also, he is financing $25 billion of the deal… again, rich people don’t need to spend their money because banks are sure they’re worth it… so there will be lenders who will be able to pressure him to not make a mess of the whole thing. The worry should probably be that they’ll insist that he monetize the crap out of Twitter to pay them off sooner, because the deal will leave the company heavily leveraged and one of Twitter’s larger problems has been generating revenue relative to its perceived influence.
And the deal might not even come to pass. Things could happen. He might not get the financing lined up. Tesla or Twitter… or both… might fall in value enough to make the deal non-viable. Or some new shiny object might grab his attention.
Anyway, I am following my usual course of laziness and sticking around for now. This post was mostly to remind myself in a year that this was a thing so I can see what happened.