And if the erratic behavior of a billionaire allows us to realize that Twitter has become, for a few years, a grave where the worst mistakes of the web return? By destroying his toy, Elon Musk may be able to save us.
Twitter is broken. Log on to the social network for a few minutes and you will see many messages of this kind swarming the platform, since its erratic new boss took over at the end of October.
Internet users were wrong, however: Elon didn’t destroy Twitter, the platform had been defunct for years. And Musk may allow us to finally get our heads above water.
Not a day goes by without the billionaire proving what some have long been reporting: in addition to being a compulsive liar, Elon Musk acts like a mini-dictator in a kingdom he has destroyed. Twitter clings to only a few employees who are forced to change the terms of service as soon as the wind shifts the weather vane in one direction or the other.
The blue certification badge disappeared, reappeared, turned gold, links to Mastodon were censored, then not, then it was the turn of Instagram and Facebook to exclude, journalists were ordered to clear, then may return, but others will remain suspended, profile pictures become square, some companies may have a double thumbnail, the right to vote will be paid and suddenly, we realize it, like a slap in the middle of Oscars: it’s all not a huge farce.
The Web 2.0 that exists has taken away our right to indifference
For years, the world of politics and media has operated in a vacuum under the big top of the same circus where the users are both the audience and the show. For years the same Twittos tweet and the same followers retweet, pseudo-conscious victims of algorithms that reward the most negative emotions with short-term virality. Notice-hungry zombies who act online like they wouldn’t in person.
” That’s not how people react to things in real life “, recently asserted Rebecca Jennings, journalist and columnist, in an excellent Vox article dissecting Twitter’s bizarre evasion mechanisms. ” Controversies and drama are prioritized only on platforms that drive engagement, where we are rewarded for hating each other. “Where we hate a woman who tweets that she likes to drink coffee with her husband on her terrace while talking for hours.
The web shouldn’t work like that.
People shouldn’t do that.
No one should have an opinion on everything all the time. Twitter has given the illusion that every word is valid, that everyone has a vested interest in responding to even the smallest tweet. Where the polemicists argue and share with them the rain, and suddenly the reaction of an unknown person is highlighted by a certified account, as if it is his greatest enemy, and the machine starts again.
The Web 2.0 that exists has taken away our right to indifference.
Where saying “I don’t know” online won’t bring any likes, no retweets, no delight in its virtual entourage.
Where we end up speaking only in turnkey expressions, with a bonus for whoever declares the most grandiose and empty sentence (and it doesn’t matter if they contradict each other).
where it belongs for full freedom of expression (for who can fight freedom?) and against censorship (even harboring divides, hate, or sharing transphobic messages), supposedly dying for people to voice their racism, homophobia, or sexism, and if you’re not okay with that, you’re closed-minded , at the worst danger to democracy.
The web shouldn’t work like that, because no platform should bring 200 million people together every day and allow them to catch the smallest individual who lets an arm stick out.
The bottle doesn’t matter, as long as we have anger
For years, it was thought that Internet users would live in bubbles because of the web and isolate themselves from others, while people were never exposed to opposing opinions. Even Elon Musk, however, drowned in the praise of his dithyrambic relatives, cannot ignore a whole crowd that boos him when he goes on stage with Dave Chappelle. Or 10 million people voted for his resignation as head of Twitter.
With their centralized operation, platforms like Twitter have provided an answer to a need they created: to combat FOMO (afraid of losing you), the fear of missing out, not being up to date, losing the scandal that everyone is talking about. If tomorrow, all of this little world is going to be split into multiple instances of Mastodon, how am I going to let everyone know that I’m going to fight the lady at the cafe on her terrace, and get as many retweets as possible?
Studies show that bubbles aren’t the only thing that can filter people: the more people are exposed to opposing ideas online, the more radicalized they become. There is no algorithm that is neutral, moreover, the right is greatly strengthened by Twitter, even if it shouts the opposite all day long. But what is the importance of the bottle, as long as there is anger: the form of the speeches far exceeds any justification in the substance. In any case, facts do not change our minds. The important thing is commitment. And users are far from being the main culprits of these shortcomings, victims of dark patterns and disruptive algorithms that increase attentional restraint.
On Twitter, there has never been a silence bonus.
By putting the worst in our world, Elon Musk can save us from its excesses
The ridiculousness of the situation now appears like a nose in the middle of the face, now that we realize that this parallel virtual universe can collapse like a house of cards, at the whim of a single man.
Twitter is a private company that has done what it wants us to do since the beginning, but that’s also a turnkey opinion without nuance. There have usually been safeguards, both legislative and moral, for years that Musk has been shredding like there’s no tomorrow. It shows that rules are binding only on those who respect them.
Here, Elon Musk may be our savior.
He is the embodiment of a neoliberalism pushed to its extreme, of a world that tolerates, even encourages, that a handful of people can weigh more than 100 billion dollars each. Who created an environment where a single man can have enough means to get the communication platform that is most used by world leaders, journalists, elites, without any checks and balances.
Musk’s growing power as his luster fades (which led to the loss of Tesla, one of the most interesting companies of the 21st century), is a strong warning sign: be careful, we are entering the red zone. Turn off the engine and wait for it to cool down.
By going so far, so fast, the billionaire can help Internet users understand that nothing belongs to them online: we are just tourists, consuming and feeding the system.
Twitter encourages good things. Social movements, meetings, debates, funny mistakes, sharing memorable memes. But is the gain still worth the loss in our daily life, in time and mental health? The web shouldn’t work with such a concentration of tools, an addiction to dopamine shots with every retweet and growing virtual hate. The web shouldn’t push us to comment on all of Emmanuel Macron’s World Cup photos, just as it isn’t there to accept our public rants about people commenting on Emmanuel Macron’s World Cup photos. World Cup. .
There’s only one thing left to hope for: that Elon Musk ends up destroying Twitter.
May fallen Internet users take their raft and leave to drift on many small islands, whether they are called Discord, Mastodon, Reddit or even the smallest thematic forum. Quieter, softer places. Although the great exodus is not yet, this is the first time since the beginning of web 2.0 that users are taking seriously the possibility of an alternative digital world.
Molly White, researcher and engineer behind the 3 Is Going Just Great website, continues: Despite the urban legend that people are chained to the web giants, it’s never been easier and cheaper to create and deploy your own site or blog than it is today, and it’s heartbreakinge. So let’s fly.