If you buy what Elon Musk is selling, you must be high
You owe me something, but I can't figure out just what... As a Luddite IT specialist (YEP!) I have been using the phrase "putting the 'ass' in aspergers" for decades. Also, "I'm the aspergers, without the burgers." In addition to being on the spectrum I am fairly attached to my phrases - no surprise. Be gentle with them...
Question for Ask Matt: Can you explain your friend Tucker Carlson to me? I understand it’s showbiz. But how shouldn’t I view someone who exploits the attack of someone in their 80s by a mentally ill individual personal gain? I know you are or were close, and I’m having trouble not considering him fundamentally evil. Wishing to be open minded, I’m asking you how you view his efforts to end our democracy. Thanks.
Really enjoyed this one. Thanks for the link to the Weekly Standard piece. Almost 10 years old, and just as true as the day it was written. As a 35-year veteran of the journalism/communications biz I've had a front-row seat to the analog-to-digital transformation. I appreciate the technological advances -- my current laptop is considerably superior to the old Trash 80, and I enjoy reading books on a tablet -- but I'm also a social media luddite. I've had to use Twitter and its slightly less sinister cousin Facebook for professional purposes, but I avoid them in my personal life. I can't imagine there's too many people out there who care about my political opinions, or what I had for dinner.
Hey Matt, WTF? I'm a paying customer but I never know that you've released a new essay unless Drudge stumbles across it and aggregates it. Am I not holding my mouth right or what?
I thought the entire Twitter concept was asinine back in the days when Twitter had a 140 character limit. How interesting a thought can one express in 140 characters? Now the limit is 280. Twice the characters means twice the great thoughts, right? So let's be generous and agree that there are 14 original ideas or even interesting takes on older ideas that can be expressed in just 40 or 50 words. Seriously. Matt can't even clear his throat in 50 words, right? So even if you can only read at a speed of 50 words per minute you can read it all in, say, 15 minutes. Whatcha gonna do with the other 1,426 minutes in your day?
So it was pretty certain from jump that not every tweet was going to be intellectual gold. An old friend, a retired Marine Bird Colonel, is fond of pointing out (with fear and trepidation in his voice) that by definition 50% of people are dumber than the average guy. Therefore it should come as no surprise that many of the tweets revolve around speculation about other people's mothers' virtue and degenerate from there.
You thought it couldn't get worse but then came Donald Trump whose great contribution to American culture was to abolish dignity and shame. I am, he proclaimed in deed if not in voice, the quintessential scumbag, a liar and a cheat, a serial bankrupt, a failure at countless businesses (how on earth does someone fail at running a casino?), a megalomaniac to my core! I'm proud to be a scumbag and you should be proud to be one too. I've ridden scumbaggery to wealth and fame. Why shouldn't you?
The man famously claimed, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" And he was right, metaphorically anyway. Ten months later he was caught on a hot mike bragging to a television personality that:
“Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
“Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And he was right. Didn't appear to cost him a vote, even among the evangelical set. Note to the white collars in the audience: hey reverend, you get that that's your daughter's pussy that Trump was talking about, right? Or the daughters of your congregants? Yeah, well, hate the sin but love the sinner, right?
But I digress. Twitter became enough of a shitstorm that the semi-grownups then in charge had to step in and hose down the riffraff, DJT included.
But wait, there's more! Now comes Elon the Magnificent, legend in his own mind, to try to eff up Twitter because he doesn't like their policies and pump his own balloon along the way. Until the oh shit moment when it became apparent that the courts had enough and were going to make him put 40 billion where his mouth is and actually buy that festering sewer. Musk hasn't been having the greatest of years and anyway $40 billion is real money no matter how rich one might be. Thinking hard he realizes, "Hmm, I'm going to have to figure out how to turn this suppurating sore into a money maker."
Currently roughly 90% of Twitter's income is derived from advertising. Musk apparently figured out what the Twitter executives he'd just run off already knew: Proctor and Gamble doesn't want its soap ads adjacent to some spittle-flecked diatribe about the f*cking (your choice of detested group or individual goes here).
I must say that I am enjoying a bit of schadenfreude here. The master entrepreneur is scratching around in the dirt for chump change for little blue check marks and fees to watch videos. Mars to Elon: the little blue check marks lose value as soon as anybody with a credit card can have one. Also, YouTube is, um, free?
So ... what's the value proposition here?
My Aspie bookend children ages 26 & 28 got off Twitter years ago calling it a social cesspool. They’ve also figured out how not to be a-holes despite their awkward social skills. What rubs them the wrong way about the Twidiot-in-Chief is that he’s about the worst poster child for high functioning autistics you could get. He’s a provocateur for all the wrong reasons and when my two naive young men can see that you’d like to think the rest of his following could too. Hope for the masses is a hard thing…you’re constantly disappointed.
I’m one of those who uses and mostly enjoys Twitter. I use it as a kind of RSS feed, following journalists I like/respect. It’s easy to curate -- simply unfollow folks sharing content you don’t enjoy. I’m interested in the changes Musk will bring. And I certainly appreciate your take on this, Matt. It’s real food for thought for me. The whole blue check mark thing is funny to me. Watching folks lose their minds over the takeover is amusing to me. Twitter’s not the real world, but it does give us a glimpse into people’s minds. Which is alternatively horrifying and amusing.
I don't have a social media dog in this fight since I dont use social media any more since my uncle sent me a message threatening to kick my ass. I guess he's angry with me. I'm not a Musk fan or detractor, but I dont get the vitriol here Matt. Elon Musk has said and done a lot of things, some of it stupid and even worse. He (by his own choice granted) lives a life with an entire industry of people that watches and comments on his every move; what it means, is it smart or dumb, etc, etc. IMO Musk has lots to take credit for in making this a better world...lots and lots and lots of people are richer because of Elon Musk. This post is making it's way online through his Starlink service. He's made space travel much less expensive. And he's made flamethrowers smh. In all cancel culture sucks regardless of where it comes from. Maybe he has already succeeded in destroying Twitter, saving all of us from ourselves.
Nice! I was wondering how long you would be able to lay off from digging into the Doublemint™ pleasure of Musk’s Twitter Muck “clean-up” (you held out a few days longer than I expected).
When will Americans abandon the “Celebrity Savior” routine. My fear is never. Musk is a clever narcissist, not a World Problem Solver. His character is in-congruent with the well-meaning messiah he is portrayed as: illegitimate kids ; using his platform to slander (pedophile gate) ; attention grabbing philanthropist (Starlink giveaway, until he sought a way to get paid by government, again). You don’t need to be anti-billionaire to be anti-Musk, you just need to be able to realize that someone who is successful at a solution to one problem (reusable rockets) does not necessarily have the answer to ALL problems (being able to recognize a mirror gazing narcissist is also helpful).
The odds that Twitter becomes meaningfully worse (if that is possible) are much greater than the odds for improvement. The only way to fix it would be to make users pay, continue to moderate content, and trim back on some of the anonymity to tamp down the pile on effect of attention seeking bad actors’ horrible tweets. He has touted the “free speech” angle so he will not be doing that. A more civil Twitter is a smaller Twitter, that does not compute in the billionaire, advertising driven business model.
Thanks for stating the obvious, Matt. Hopefully enough people will listen. Unlike the cave rescue diver Musk slandered as a pedophile, I will not be holding my breath.
Once again, I must comment on the enjoyment I get from reading your writings. You have a talent for combining philosophy with humor and political insight.
I believe the saying goes along the lines of, "Your right to free speech doesn't include the right to yell fire in a crowded theater." Words definitely have consequences, and anyone who doubts this can yell some insults in a bar populated by the objects of the insults. Just let me know where to send the get-well cards.
Musk is a great engineer who thinks outside of the box, as defined by conventional thinking. He stimulated the electric car industry, made reusable rockets, and tried to create a new way to dig tunnels. So many brilliant people need to understand that just because you excel at some occupation - medicine, law, engineering - doesn't make you an expert in everything else. To me, he fails as a human being in many ways, but then Einstein wasn't a great parent or husband.
Musk is correct in that we must establish ourselves on other planets or moons to help ensure the continuation of the human race. I may have read too much science fiction, but it would only take one giant meteor to wipe us out. Astronomers call these meteors "Planet Killers."
You are correct in not joining the cesspool known as Twitter. It's hard to believe that anything good or of consequence can come from this trash heap. Your quote from Kierkegaard is spot on. This is why our democracy is in so much danger. We can differ, and we do, on the size of the government, tax policy, and foreign affairs. Still, those things are political - voter suppression and the refusal to accept election results are leading us down the path to a form of government I don't like and am afraid of.
Demonizing people due to their sexual orientation, skin color, or religion is not something to be tolerated in a democracy. These issues have been weaponized by certain people on the right to mobilize their base and lead the unthinking masses to support their political candidates. In some cases, they have even captured Christianity to support their fears.
Of course, it is always possible that climate change will destroy us before the right turns this country into a theocracy.
Oh the travesty to humanity that liberal Twiiter is no more. Who are we the non-libs going to complain about now that King Twit controls the new and improved 1stA Twitter?
Damn! There I go again getting pissed off about a title without reading the essay. To think, I had this rebuttal formed too...
Twitter is dumb and you put a lot of effort in your article to basically come to the same conclusion. My kid, who is an Aspie, calls it bootybergers.
This was great. Thanks for continually giving me hope that there’s conservatives out there who don’t embarrass or revolt me.
I read that a Saudi Prince is the 2nd largest shareholder of Twitter, how does Elon square 1st Amendment rights with a shareholder not typically associated with 1st Amendment freedoms?
Give me liberty or give me a blue check mark.