Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Why I Love Watching the Meltdown Over Musk and Twitter

From Mike Solana, at Bari Weiss's Substack, "Elon Conquers The Twitterverse"

Our chattering class claims Musk is a supervillain. The truth is simpler: He wants free speech. They don't.

Three weeks ago, a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Elon Musk, billionaire Shitposting God of Silicon Valley, had acquired over 9% of Twitter, making him the company’s largest shareholder and setting in motion a chain of events that led, ultimately, to yesterday’s outright purchase of the now $44 billion company. In a press release, Elon shared his goals for the platform, which echoed the goals he’s shared all month:

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

“Freedom,” “open source technology,” and “man, I really hate these spam bots.” The media’s reaction to these ambitions was instant and apoplectic. They were akin, we were told, to literal Nazism.

Welcome to the Clown World. Boy, do we have ground to cover.

The social internet is always a DalĂ­ painting—surreal and horrifying and beautiful. A million crazy people screaming over nonsense, with funny jokes or anecdotes mixed in, fortune cookie observations, legitimate political happenings, and “words are violence” hall monitors from The Washington Post waging daily information war on trolls and Russian bots and okay actually just a lot of regular people with whom they disagree, or simply don’t like.

But even by the gutter standards we’ve come to accept from media, this has been a month for the books.

Out of the gate, it was incoherent fury, with no consensus motive. We were told that Elon, who explicitly opposes censorship, intended to deplatform, and ultimately destroy, all of his critics, who are themselves explicitly in favor of censorship. We were told that Elon was building a propaganda engine. We were told that Twitter, which was until last week apparently a peaceful, utopian haven for principled discourse, would now revert to some earlier, imagined world of carnage (very bad tweets). The case was made, with zero evidence, that Elon is a racist. It was all just table stakes, really.

After a week or so, in brutal, Darwinian competition for attention, arguments against Musk blossomed into something more colorful. From Axios, a company committed in writing to never sharing an opinion, it was “reported” that Elon, once likened to Iron Man, was now behaving “like a supervillain.” His ownership of Twitter would lead to World War III, the case was made elsewhere. In one of my favorite moments of derangement, NPR helpfully reminded us that Elon is an imperialist. The basis for such an incredible charge? In the tradition of America’s Apollo Moon landing, one of the most celebrated accomplishments in human history, Elon wants to settle Mars, an uninhabited desert planet 155 million miles from Earth. This is just like colonial-era Britain’s brutal conquest of half the world, when you think about it.

The takes were all extraordinarily stupid, and yes, I loved every single one of them...

Keep reading.