The Twitter Dilemma: Where Do We Go Now?
My answer: We go nowhere. We stay and hold down the fort.
You know how I love Twitter. It’s my go-to space for everything global and political, and it never lets me down. I’ve learned who my friends are and who I can trust. I don’t abide trolls or jerks. I’ve settled in nicely and I’m comfortable there.
I’ve written a couple of pieces about Twitter here and here, and I’ll probably do it again at some point, but this time I’m writing because the Twitter Board of Directors have accepted Elon Musk’s offer of a buy-out. Yes! Elon Musk! How out there is that?
The first thing Musk said is that he’s going to take Twitter private. The second thing he said is that every human will be free to say whatever they want to say, but no more bots. They’ll be gone.
Nice thought, but Musk is notorious for blocking anyone who disagrees with him. Will he unblock them now and settle for time-outs, as he’s suggested he’ll do? Or is he really going to tough it out and let ordinary people say mean things about him?
Nobody knows. Just as nobody knows anything yet. But the speculation is through the roof as everyone on our side begins to panic. As if the sky is falling and there’s nothing we can do! Nothing!!
Dozens of people I know are already leaving. Just the thought of Elon Musk and privatization and maybe even Trump coming back is enough to make them head for the door. And nothing has even happened yet.
The board of directors are all giddy about it, but the sale has to be approved by the shareholders. That hasn’t happened. Then there’s the red tape, even if it does happen. It’ll be long past the mid-terms before Musk can sit at the Big Desk barking out orders. Plenty of time for us to keep on keeping on, doing what we’re doing, which, I don’t have to remind you, is to work at saving our democracy.
That’s a pretty big deal. It’ll take nerves of steel and all of our concentration in the days to come. There’s no time to get petty or silly or scared. Twitter is an essential platform, especially for those of us who can’t do any more than take to our keyboards, using our words as weapons. We’re right there in the fray and we feel needed.
I thought about explaining just how useful Twitter is to the Democracy Movement (that’s us), but it seems I’ve already done that. This is from an essay I posted at Ramona’s Voices a month before the election in 2019. I’ve cut some and revised some, but this is how I feel about the power of Twitter and why I’m not ready to abandon it. (You can read the original essay here.)
We are the #Resistance and we never sleep. We're out there and our numbers are growing. For us, Twitter is a battleground, it's a staging area, headquarters for those leading the charge against the tyranny that is the current GOP.
We're the witnesses, the couriers, the voices of the opposition. We follow the good guys and shed light on the disinformation coming from the bad guys, and, if nothing else comes of it, we take satisfaction where we can get it: We knew we were getting to Trump when he had to tweet more than 100 times in a single day. (He raged so much, thanks to us, Twitter threw him out. One small victory for our side.)
Through Twitter, we get real-time updates on the battles raging on every front, and we send them on, like smoke signals, to the resistance pods all around the country.
Is there a protest coming up? We know about it. Is there a March in the works? We pass along the info, right down to where to catch the buses.
When Trump’s rogue administration abused citizens and foreigners and refugees, we read the first-hand accounts from the victims and their families and we sent out tweets to lawyers, scholars, and social justice warriors, known to us thanks to Twitter, who let us know they were ready to help.
When someone fights the system and is in danger of being harmed, we expose the abuses. We know who to tweet to give them a hand. Millions of us retweet the information to give it more visibility.
Twitter is a morass of bad information but it's also a funnel for good journalism. When the press and/or the pundits get it right, we send their stories into the viralsphere. When they get it wrong, we show them the error of their ways--and we often win. We win because they can't ignore the Twitter warriors coming down on them, forcing them to look again.
Because the other side Tweets, too, we know their thoughts and can see right through them. In mere minutes we can counter and dilute their lies. In mere minutes.
But, as with any war zone, there is a dark side. You may have noticed. There are forces working against the resistance, and they're experts at obfuscating and gaslighting. They're ruthless and formidable and sometimes terrifying. They come from every corner of the planet. Sometimes they're real and sometimes they're not. It's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind attack meant to intimidate and shut the resister down, but the Twitter Resistance community knows the difference and spreads the word.
That's where courage comes in, and we're bravest when we're not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of us on Twitter, many with already recognizable names, and many who became recognizable through their work on that site. Twitter has joined us together. We’ve found each other and we’re working for a cause that’s essential to our country’s well-being. No small feat, considering the vastness of the internet.
I use Twitter in a way that works for me. If you can’t see it, I’m okay with that. I have to be. But if we lose it as a platform, we’ll have lost an important part of the information highway. We can’t afford to lose any of it. Not now.
If you’re thinking of quitting Twitter, I’m asking—what’s the hurry? Stick around until there’s nothing left that’s useful to us. The mid-terms are just ahead, and we need all of the resources we can muster. Twitter is good at that.
So can we talk about this? What do you think? Comments are always open.
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