(Warning: Parts of this piece of writing may ascend into sarcasm. Some people don’t like sarcasm while a bunch of us can’t help ourselves. We love it.)
At times like this, I must contemplate how deep or shallow is my grasp of social media. That is to say, unlike an awful lot of people, I’m not getting worked up over Elon Musk’s not-yet-complete purchase of Twitter. Am I a fool?
Twitter, what is Twitter? It’s a free program we all can join and express ourselves in very short bursts of writing. Or videos. Or expansions into threads, if desired.
Politicians use Twitter pretty effectively to tell me (I’d say “us,” but I’m not pretentious enough to think what’s happening to me is happening to everyone in the world) what legislation they’re working on, what goals they’re achieving. And I appreciate this.
I express myself on Twitter occasionally. I also express myself by re-tweeting other people’s expressions when those expressions express what I would express had I thought of doing so.
Some people have told me they don’t use Twitter because they’re worried about what they’ll read.
Three things to say about that.
One. By selecting the people and institutions I follow — in my case, highly credible news sources, lawyers and public servants — I have more or less pre-authenticated what I read on Twitter. It isn’t as if thousands of people (or bots) flow through my vision and creep into my brain all higgledepiggledy.
I follow over 900 Twitters accounts but it isn’t as if they all are frantic to express themselves daily or hourly. Some of them don’t show up on a regular basis at all.
To be sure, I get expressions from people I’ve never heard of or have heard of but don’t want to hear from. Trump was one of them. How he got into my feed I’m not sure. But it didn’t matter because…
Two. I possess a magical device that protects me from what poisonous characters sneak onto my Twitter. It is called a mouse. I engage the magic by using my right forefinger on that little wheel in the front of the device. By stroking that little wheel, I do what is, I believe, called scrolling, which moves the Twitter expressions up or down the screen until they disappear.
In relying on this magic device, I manage never to engage in any way with the expressions — physical or verbal — of, say, TFG or other people I’ve never heard of and would not rely on for credible information. Which brings me to…
Three. I’ve told you about the best lesson I ever had in formal schooling, which was how to read newspapers to get the facts of a story. I apply that lesson to what I read on Twitter. Sometimes I’ll see an intriguing tidbit about an event that may be real, or may not. Until the tidbit is verified by showing up in a credible news source, I don’t re-tweet it or believe it myself.
Twitter posts news items very quickly. When I read an exciting one, I’ll wait twenty minutes or so and then go onto the Times to check its veracity. (I subscribe to the Times and Daily News, but not to WaPo or other major papers, although I’ll see a confirmation of a story on the WaPo Twitter site.)
There’s a lot of expressed paranoia on Twitter and a lot of people, even intelligent, experienced, relatively sane people, jump on the conspiracy bandwagon. The fear about Elon Musk is rampant.
If I had more space, I’d tell you specifically why I don’t like Elon Musk, a self-proclaimed “libertarian,” i.e., an obscenely rich man who says stupid and offensive things, presumably because his social intelligence is nil and his moral structure non-existent. (I can’t imagine why these guys want to label themselves “libertarian.” Don’t they know it means they’re declaring themselves sociopaths?)
But if he does get his hands on Twitter, what evil can he do through his stated, but ignorant, pursuit of “freedom of speech”? He doesn’t understand what he’s talking about and it seems clear he has no social or management skills with which he can apply what he doesn’t understand.
What is everyone afraid of? Being brainwashed by the likes of Elon Musk? Elon has gotten himself onto my Twitter feed. I think he thinks he’s being funny and charming. The stuff he writes is so inane, so incoherent, I can’t imagine why it would influence anybody.
But maybe I’m ignorant.