Don’t know about you, but there are restaurants/bars I don’t go to anymore- knowing that the irritable chatty owner hangs out there all the time. So you are forced to dedicate your nights to his social life as well.
Technically, she owns the place, and you’re the guest. When you pay for your time there, you want complete freedom and anonymity in return. That’s why I prefer crowds at bars over house-party crowds, anyway (if you’re stuck!).
How does the internet feel? Like airy, socially borderless spaces that belong to no one in particular—everyone is both a consumer and a producer. None are specifically designated as high or low.
Sure, there is brahminical thread/janau for verification/blue ticks on social media, but it doesn’t provide any special returns/rewards online, let alone in the real world.
But, how has Twitter been feeling since as I write this it’s only been less than a fortnight since Elon Musk took ownership of the social media platform?
It’s like living under a Kasturi government—a personal project of a domineering, omnipresent, small-faced billionaire, making/remaking rules/regulations, day after day, to the tune of crores. Because now this is the ‘Mai-Baap’ Musk house you are in. So, he tells you about new, paid/free badges/ticks, information in bio, suspension rules, etc., which get activated and deactivated almost simultaneously. , The circus-like buzz around his godly presence has seen the Twitter activity/user base temporarily shoot up, no doubt about it.
Also, as a boss, he turns up as Cowboy CEO with a new appointment letter, which forces him to believe that whatever happened in the company before him must have been caused by his minions. / is the mindless work of fools. Lord knows it’s never good enough.
Of course, I’m not talking about massive layoffs at his newly adopted firm. Who Really Are Twitter’s Key Employees? You and I, with profiles/handles on platforms that put ourselves out there for each other all day, while Twitter, as with all user-generated sites, ultimately benefits – by doing nothing. Used to be.
Why do we work for them? I think we feel strongly individualistic, powerful and free to be able to post whatever we want. That’s why? I want!
The first time I remember hearing pot-smoking Musk’s opinion about social media was with Joe Rogan, I think, in 2018. Once you enter it (as Twitter and others did), there is no reasonable return. Besides, individual nations already have enough in their privacy, defamation, hate speech laws to deal with the offenders, I guess?
Except that over time, especially on Twitter, so many people, hiding behind virtual mobs/’armies’, especially under the cloak of anonymity, have come to defecate in public so much that many others, who stink really quit, or at least started participating.
For Musk, this is not a problem, and so his solutions are something else—”free speech absolutism”, and “opening algorithms”, or transparency on the backend.
What is the future of Twitter then? Same as other such sites, isn’t it? Hanging on to what the next generation is like, as we go along: Orkut- Facebook- Instagram- TikTok- Snapchat- Discord…
Twitter is considered the town hall with the smallest universe, mainly because heads of states, no less, conduct public business here hourly, and politicians campaign 24×7 with their ‘paplu’.
If the public shuts down, these people can troll each other for their own entertainment forever. The Twitter discourse survives even as it is forced upon the lazy, legacy press. According to its own official classification, Twitter is a news platform, not a social media; Fake, if not redundant, possession of its vast majority of news—a threat all right.
Musk’s major concern on Twitter, however, is to find ways for ‘citizen’ journalists to be reporting for a living alongside professional, trained scribes; Directly accountable to its readers/viewers/editors/owners amid stringent libel laws. Next time, if required, try to consult a ‘civilian’ doctor, professor, lawyer etc.
But a few words on Musk (Tesla, SpaceX), who turned Tony Stark into a true story: Don’t get me wrong, I admire him as much as my strongest cheerleader. For Indians, he is also the entrepreneur who made real engineering (which includes manufacturing) super cool.
More specifically, he is a non-native student, brilliantly blending science and commerce streams, possibly towards an outcome for the humanities beyond Earth. Compare that to Mark Zuckerberg, who dominates the planet, influences global politics, because he originally came up with the idea of rating girls on a site!
For Musk alone, addicted to low-key stand-up comedy and live streams of consciousness on his timeline, Twitter seems like a $44 billion hobby.
What’s cool about his acquisition is a glimpse of the world’s richest man taking the most important consumer-related decisions right away! As it should be inside the ministries of dictators and corporate boardrooms of similar czars.
Cooler still is to watch him casually play: “We’ll be doing dumb things all month long!” He couldn’t care less—at least, take himself seriously, let alone his global status. It’s a very cool, American trait. Musk is South African born; However, he cannot apply for the US President.
Mayank Shekhar tries to understand the mass culture. He tweeted @mayankw14
Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper.