Until recently, I occcupied a tiny teeny microscopic corner in the Twitterverse. In any list of Twitter accounts I would have been placed rock-bottom. My Twitter-presence was just a means allowing me to click on external links which would require me to log in into Twitter.
Two weeks ago I announced on my Linkedin-Account that I am letting the bird go because I don’t want to be any part of a story of unhinged narcissism combined with pure capitalism disguised behind a concept of so-called long-termism.
The two weeks since then have been, mildly put, interesting. The purposefully chaotic sledgehammer-approach of Mr. Musk ripping through Twitter has been all over the news. I had a hard time finding a way keeping myself updated about what was going on in relation to Twitter and its role in public discourse and communication, and at the same time to avoid being sucked in into endless replications of upsetting stories combined with the ubiquitous display of Mr. Musk’s face. I tried not to get emotionally touched by the topic, because there is an insidous purpose behind an approach that keeps people glued to emotionally upsetting stories, combined with the personalisation of messages connected to faces: If you don’t mind to combine your public persona with negative and upsetting antagonising news and opinions, chances are that your internet presence on social media is sky-rocketing.
It is an alternative to “sex sells”, or the smart way how some video-bloggers combine the display of female body parts with entirely unrelated blog-content in the same way as classic advertisement does. The means how to maximise gaining attention are very well understood within behavioral psychology. If you like to watch a very entertaining and honest and ethical video about clickbait, head over to one of my favorite Youtube-Channels: Veritasium.
Some may say that the dishonest use of social media as a bullhorn for highly antagonising and emotionalising content in order to achieve desired manipulative effects is high-risk gambling. Kanye West might be considered being an example for that this strategy can back-fire. Others may say the days of Nr. 45 are over and it is time to move on. But that doesn’t make it feel less dangerous to me, and I disagree with “moving on”. Because the damage is done on a structural level, notwithstanding whether a few narcissists became victim of their own high-risk gambling or not. All narcissists who are also sociopaths are high-risk gamblers. It is an inherent part of their personality. They are unable to do anything else.
The most upsetting issue with Twitter over the past two weeks is the inhumane and dictatorial approach to Twitter staff members. Rarely have I seen a worse example for treating staff members like disposable items. In his cold and arrogant attitude Mr. Musk clearly demonstrates an inability to empathise with other human beings. In this ego-centric worldview filled with hubris, only personal power, might and wealth exist. Neither staff members, nor users count in any other way than the impact they are having on profit: Staff costs money, users are meant to be milked. We can witness how unhinged capitalism works, and we all are having a hard time of not falling victim to the countless efforts of blurring our eyesight.
20 November, the news reported that Elon Musk reinstated Mr. Trump’s Twitter Account. Below the references in the U.S. New York Times, the British BBC, and the German Tagesschau. All three newsfeeds quoted Mr. Musk with “The people have spoken”.
January 08, 2021, Twitter blocked the account used by Nr. 45, following the insurrection events of January 06. After his takeover of Twitter, the richest man of the world initiated a poll on Twitter, just a few days ago, and for the duration of 24 hours. There has, to my knowledge, not been any external monitoring of this poll that would allow us to verify the results, so, according to Twitter itself (or better, Mr. Musk himself), 15 Million users of Twitter participated in the poll. The German Tagesschau estimates there is a current estimated total of 230 million accounts being used on Twitter on a daily basis. 51.5% of these 15 Million users were, according to Twitter, in favor for a return of the 45th President of the United States to Twitter.
Which led Mr. Musk to reinstating Nr 45’s account, and tweeting that “The people have spoken”, adding a sentence in Latin “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, meaning that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Excuse me???? The people have not spoken. A social media platform populated with user accounts does not constitute a people. An insanely rich billionaire buys a social media company, shredding staff, organisation, policy and procedures, moving the company towards business models where users do not only pay the price of extraction of their personal data for advertisement purposes, but are also encouraged to pay for services. These users, as far as they have decided to stay, are not a “people”.
The hubris of Mr. Musk, comparing a questionable polling process with the legitimising voice of a people, then even adding a divine context, borders insanity. Like in cases we have seen before, there is a cold-blooded purpose behind that. It is meant to make sure that the signal stays hidden in the noise.