Every night before I go to bed I login into Twitter.
Every morning when I wake up I do the same.
As much as I have tried to kick the habit it is something I have not been able to accomplish. I’ve tried deleting the app from my home screen. I’ve made attempts toward digital wellbeing by setting up screen time restrictions but I’ve always managed to jailbreak during my scheduled quiet hours. I’ve tried to replace Twitter as my news default and go for something more traditional like radio, television, newspapers or magazines. Yet, even there they always led me back to my little blue bird. Somewhere in the corner of the tv screen or in the middle of the article would be a screenshot of some Twitter account’s opinion about what was happening in the world.
Why am I paying for this news subscription when they are just retelling me something that I could’ve found out for free?
Even small talk has been infiltrated by the bird.
“You see what’s going on, on Twitter?”
Quick! Reach in your pocket, grab your phone, and refresh your timeline before someone labels you as “late.” There is nothing worse in the world than being considered “late” on the newest, topical subject.
We’ve all got bird flu. Symptoms include a variance of doom scrolling, muscle fatigue ( neck, shoulders, buttocks), anti-socialness, acute hubris and an obsessive compulsion for meme collecting and online sports betting.
There just seems to be nothing more enjoyable than to be a part of the gab.
“It’s where I have my first gasp of the day,” said a friend to me when I asked her about what would happen if Twitter was deleted. “I think people would be devastated.”
It was September 2022 and at the time, Elon Musk, tech billionaire was at the starting phases of buying Twitter from co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jack Dorsey. On April 14, 2022, Musk offered $54.20 per share, valuing the company at $43 billion. His bidding was met with an almost immediate public outcry against his possession. For many, Twitter was one of the few collective safe spaces on the internet. The Covid-19 pandemic created a new sense of social isolation and many turned to social platforms as a way to fulfill their needs to connect. This new wave of emotional sharing developed into a codependence to information. The fierce reaction to the acquisition also represented Twitter user’s fears that their earned personas, communities, and media libraries could be disturbed by new ownership. What would happen if the platform was left in the hands of someone nothing short of being an out-of-touch gentry lemon? It even seemed at the height of the mob’s tantrum, Musk, enjoyed the public belittlement and pushed further into his campaign as overlord of internet chatter. He would officially own Twitter on October 27, 2022.
Nevertheless, the critiques of this shift in culture were valid. Even though Twitter exists online there is an undeniable emotional transference. We have seen examples of this when internet activism successfully crosses over into real life and sometimes campaigning onto a global scale. Social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #SayHerName were led by individuals that utilized the platform for signal boosting and raising awareness on issues that were affecting their community. The exercise of hashtag activism is intuitive and effective. In May 2020, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, cities across the world erupted into protest over the death of unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. According to Pew Research, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatters experienced a surge. It was tweeted 47.8 million times on Twitter with an average of 3.7 million times per day. The hashtag allowed users to remain up to date on topics surrounding George Flyod’s death, and the abominable amount of police brutality cases that followed across the nation.
It could be that social movements like these are linked to the considerable doubts against Musk’s intentions behind owning Twitter. He himself and his American electric automotive company Tesla, have been accused of overt racism and harassment. Musk is also known for his reputation to rub shoulders with smirch company. Shortly after he became head of Twitter, he welcomed back the formerly banished accounts of former President of The United States, Donald J. Trump and rapper turned nazi-apologist Kanye West. As the new proprietor, he could oust the identities of those behind. Although that paranoia is very limited to the idea that Musk is the only person whose finger is on a nuclear button of massive data exposure.
So far, the platform has been able to remain intact. Short of a few odd UI uplifts and massive, yet sudden lay-offs. It seems as though chaos is the appeal. Sometimes it is the cure to social isolation that becomes the new obsession. Like a junkie, the threat of its supply becoming more scarce will only make them more co-dependent to their dealer.
What would happen if Twitter was deleted?
I consider the words of my friend.
“It’s where I have my first gasp of the day.”
On many occasions this has been true. Twitter is my front page. It’s my weather channel. It’s my sports section, it’s my comics, it’s my obituaries. How else will I know which new world crisis to get behind or which celebrity death should I mourn? Every day I discover a new collection of reaction memes that I use to represent my mood- or at least the mood of the self I’d like others to perceive. I connect with strangers. I am a fly on the wall. I cheer from the audience. I learn. I perch on my own soap box. My opinions expand. Twitter hacked my brain.
Babel has always been meta.