Internet round-up for the week of November 7, 2022
I can’t believe it’s Friday already! This week has flown by. I am truly amazed that it was just one short week ago that I wrote about Twitter, “I’m definitely not happy about the direction is the site is headed, though, it’ll be…interesting…to see how things change going forward.”
Haha. HAHAHAHA. Oh boy. Interesting is such a nice word for the dramatic upheaval that’s happened on the site this week — but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Let me start by saying how profoundly sad I am about what’s happened to Twitter. If you’ve been following this newsletter for any length of time you know it’s where I spend the majority of my energy online. It’s been an almost daily driver for me since — well, let’s check my profile…
Ah, there we go. More than 13 years. And wildly, it’s managed to stay relevant and useful while engagement on sites like Facebook and Instagram have waned.
Over the course of my time on Twitter, I’ve been able to make friends, network, and join communities I would never have had access to otherwise. I’ve spent years working on cultivating a space for myself, and this last year was the best it’s ever been. Twitter was a place where freelancers could find work, publications could share information about submissions, creatives could tout their latest works, breaking news was immediately at your fingertips, and everyone was hilarious.
I know I’ve said that in the past tense — because even if it somehow manages to keep existing (which I sincerely doubt it will — I’m guessing it’ll be shut down by the end of the year, if not before), it’s already significantly changed. Many people I’ve connected with through the years are already gone, the algorithms are already different, and, well, things are a mess.
There’s no way to fully articulate what a huge loss this is. It’s like losing your local coffee shop combined with a massive networking event combined with worldwide art galleries combined with a comedy club combined with the bar from Cheers.
And all it took was one billionaire egomaniac to come in and destroy everything inside of just seven days. As Ed Zitron put it last week:
Trying to understand billionaires defies most logic, because so many of the things we do are done with the white noise of decision-making - can we afford this? Should I do this? Will this be good for my career, or health? I’d love to go on a vacation - can I afford that? Oh, my friend’s sad because they’ve lost their job, which they need to pay for their bills. Musk can burn several of his companies to the ground and likely still have so much money that he can (if he has not already done so) eradicate every ounce of friction that a human being can experience.
It’s an important thing to remember as he fires half of Twitter’s staff and demands that the rest return to the office full-time or he’ll consider it a resignation. He does not share concerns about whether or not people are able to survive, because he can’t understand them. Running this company fully into the ground, along with the livelihoods of comedians, writers, artists, journalists, and others, is nothing more than a broken toy that he can set down before he finds another to play with.
I won’t deny that spending less time online will probably be good for me — maybe I’ll actually get more writing done — but for my career (and my psyche), this will be a tremendous loss.
I’m still there now, watching the senioritis set in and folks share their handles from other social media platforms trying to find a way to stay connected. Those of us left are basically watching the quartet play on the deck of the Titanic before the lights go out and the ship cracks in half and sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor.
Now, let’s get to the drama.
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Every time I start trying to mentally piece together the order of events from Twitter this week I instantly become the personification of the “Lemon, it’s Wednesday” meme.
Let me see if I can get the timeline on this right.
Friday, Elon Musk fires half of Twitter’s staff (if rumors are true, based on the amount of code they’ve pushed over the last year, which is just…the absolute most wrong way to determine who is contributing -- but he clearly doesn’t understand how engineering works) and announces “Twitter Blue” to be released on Monday, where people can purchase blue verification checks (originally, it only offered features like an edit button, not the check). These checks have, in the past, made it clear that an account was who it claimed to be. Initially, he said it’d be $20, then negotiated the price down to $8 against himself.
They decide to wait to release the blue checks until after the election on Tuesday. Honestly the only smart thing that’s happened, because…well, it could have been really bad.
Wednesday, the blue checks are released. Initially, “real” accounts were branded with a gray tag marked “Official”, so basically a second check, rendering the original blue check completely meaningless.
People complained, so within a couple of hours, the “Official” tag was removed and the blue checks showed whether the person was verified because they’re well known, or because they paid for it (but only on the profile itself, not in the feed).
Mister “no one will be suspended here in the free speech zone” starts suspending joke accounts impersonating him. Then he announces that parody accounts must say they’re parodies or they’ll be suspended. (You know what could help with this? Verification.)
Did I mention all the advertisers stopped spending on Twitter? And now the one source of income Elon was hoping would cover his $1 billion a year interest rate on his loans is currently on pause. Can’t imagine any of them will be coming back after this, either.
The one thing you can always count on Twitter for is to be completely ungovernable. And boy, has it been out of control this week. My consolation prize for watching my favorite site burn is also getting to see Elon Musk be (metaphorically) ripped to shreds in the town square.
And uh…here’s what the site looks like now:
I’ve already linked once today to Ed Zitron’s substack, “Where’s Your Ed At”, but highly recommend checking out his Monday edition, titled “Musk’s Kobayashi Maru”. It’s a great explanation of why Elon’s purchase of Twitter is a no-win scenario.
Headline of The Week
😳 This one’s from the BBC. BRANDS™. Doing their best?
Substack is telling me I’m running out of space again 🙄 (I really tried. I used so many hyperlinks instead of posting the Tweets!), so it’s time for…
Randomly Selected Animal Cutie(s)
Rhino zoomies and cronching!
Truly I can’t explain why I’ve still used Twitter links in this newsletter, because all of them will probably cease to exist when the site dies. My previous editions will just be empty husks, like when you accidentally bite the slimy bloomin onion out of its crispy shell. Maybe it’s the optimist in me.
Anyway, hope you have a great weekend! Next week I’ll probably be at the bottom of the ocean watching James Cameron come by in a submersible, but we can at least talk about TV again.