Elon Musk is a typical Twitter user, except for one thing
Musk’s acquisition was more than a little crazy on a platform where many users’ main obsession is the site itself. Twitter’s text box always asks each user “What’s going on?” What happens, invariably, is that they look at Twitter. This simple fact explains perhaps 99% of the acrimony there, which rarely concerns events in the outside world and frequently the content of other tweets. Just about everyone who uses Twitter feels like they’ve been wronged in some way, but they can’t help but search. And one of the evil facts about it is that the more power and followers you accumulate, the more likely you are to be held up as an example of all that is wrong with the world – nothing more than the winner of the whole game of global capitalism. No wonder Musk thinks there’s still value to unlock: he loves the site, even though his experience with it is probably awful.
And because Musk is the richest person on the planet, it’s easy for many to believe the deal isn’t about a desire to renovate and renew “the place of the digital city,” but something more nefarious. or stupid. Some — including the second richest man on the planetJeff Bezos – speculated that Tesla’s exposure to the Chinese market will actually make it After subject to censorship under Musk’s ownership. Others have expressed concern that he now owns DMs from journalists; some think it’s hilarious. Some fear it will bring back former President Donald Trump, another billionaire user of the platform; many others find the idea exhilarating. He said he wants to control bot accounts, which probably seems like a bigger issue to you when you have 85.4 million followers and tweet about crypto and stock prices and the numbers 420 and 69. Monday , people kept posting unflattering photos of him – from his PayPal days, or standing next to Ghislaine Maxwell – joking this will be the last day they can get away with it.
And that’s what’s so unsettling about its acquisition: the strong sense that, even in its most innocuous form, it’s an act of vanity, a way to enhance a user’s personal experience of agora. And there is something to that. Musk oozes with a desperation to be considered funny, a disease that no amount of money can fix and perhaps its most relevant quality. His outing on “Saturday Night Live” was borderline painful to watch, even by contemporary “SNL” standards – especially his monologue, which was full of fascinating defense mechanisms for being nice to me: an announcement that he was the first host with Asperger’s syndrome; an apparition of his mother, who hugged him and told him she loved him; and a statement of his vision for the future: “I believe in a future based on renewable energy; I believe that humanity must become a multiplanetary and spatial civilization.
He paused after that game: “Sounds like exciting goals, doesn’t it? Now I think if I just posted this on Twitter it would be fine. But I also write things like ’69 days after 4/20 again haha’” — a real job of June 28, 2020, i.e. 69 days after April 20 — “I don’t know, I found it funny. That’s why I wrote “haha” at the end. Look, I know I say or post weird things sometimes, but that’s how my brain works. To everyone I’ve offended, I just want to say: I’ve reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket. Did you think I was going to be a cold, normal guy too? »
Never before has the user mentality of Twitter been summed up so well: I know you might not like my jokes, but what you need to understand is that I’m really cool. Capital markets have rewarded Musk handsomely for all of this; Twitter, home of the guillotine meme, hasn’t — or at least not uniformly. But because of the former, any frustration Musk might have with the latter has the potential to reshape the closest thing we have to a digital public square. It’s not clear that there’s anything to cry about in this changing of the guard, except maybe it can happen at all.