153 Comments

I hope Musk kills Twitter, and then dissolves in his own sordid mess. I deactivated my account on Thursday when I heard he was finally taking control. Sad to me, as I looked forward to seeing posts from many dog lovers (including Auggie and Eli) as well as some beautiful scenery posts. But in the last few years, the division had grown, so I never logged in after 7pst. Anyway having Bulwark, I don’t need Twitter for news. Thanks.

Expand full comment

I’ve already begun DM’ing favorite follows (all of us are nobodies, but we don’t know one another outside of the benighted hellscape) to let me know where they’re going if they leave (Mastodon seems to be the fave right now) and as soon as I figure out how to download my archive I’m out of there. Elon is a complete tool and his minions are disgusting.

Expand full comment

Seems the death of twitter has begun. Musk is already posting misinformation/disinformation, then deleting it.

I think Justice would be served if everyone just quit Twitter, causing the single largest investment loss in history that was not a crime.

Why so many Americans worship at the altar of fame is beyond me.

Expand full comment

You know what would kill Twitter? If media people stopped engaging on it, promoting on it, and most importantly reporting on it like things that happen on Twitter between blue check marks are news.

Expand full comment

MAKING SENSE podcast has saved me from despair. I’m still a BULWARK member and listener, but interject some perspective from Sam Harris and his informed guests. It will freshen up your discussions. 🙂

Expand full comment

I'll try it. Thank you.

Expand full comment

I have been boycotting Facebook since 2016 and never bothered with Twitter. I propose that sane people on both the Right, Left and Center should leave the Twitter platform since Musk is somewhat hateful and arrogant in the same way the platform tends to be. Perhaps Substack is the way to go.

Expand full comment
Oct 30, 2022·edited Oct 30, 2022

Why should journalists own the public forum? Let them compete with the rabble.

Expand full comment

Great read. On Twitter totally wish and hope you are right.

Expand full comment

My take is this. And I am most assuredly wrong, but here goes.

Musk knows he can't sell electric cars to half the drivers in the US who would rather walk than take a ride in environmentally friendly car. If he can sell them on how owning a Tesla is owning the libs, he could sell a lot of cars to Trumpys.

Expand full comment

I don't have a Twitter account, but I looked it up and there are a 250 million users. Contrast that to 1 billion TikTok users and 2.5 billion FB users.

Expand full comment

FB is dying and TikTok is inefficient.

Expand full comment

I could not agree more!

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2022·edited Oct 30, 2022

Don't use Twitter, rarely read Twitter, unless it's someone whose views I specifically care about, like a real expert on Russia or military affairs. Twitter is bad, but I think it will be replaced, unfortunately. We had Vine, (which Twitter owned, but shut down), and it was replaced by TikTok. Twitter's misuse and distortion illustrates three points I'll focus on.

1. The thirst for data: People, people in politics and journalism especially, are desperately hungry to know what people think for obvious reasons. Twitter provides that, even if it's distorting and basically bad data. It's better than nothing, goes the thinking (which is wrong, because "I don't know what people think" is less harmful than misunderstanding what people think.)

2. Low journalistic standards: Even if it's bad, it's available. Journalists are desperate for sources, and Twitter is available for instant hot takes. Polls don't exist on every issue that just happened. Twitter offers the illusion of data aggregation that tells you what large numbers of people think in the absence of a poll. The 24/7 news cycle demands hot takes, so despite knowing it's bad data, it's used, because the incentives demand publishing something. This reminds me of a lot of early globalization reporting where reporters interviewed a handful of urban elites living in, say, Cairo or New Delhi, and concluded everyone was becoming little Americans because they drank Coke, wore jeans, and talked like Americans. Fly into a capital, talk to a few people, and fly out.

3. Evolutionary cognitive biases: Humans evolved in small bands or tribes, and later lived in small villages for most of history. If ten people in a row said they hated you, it was probably a universal feeling. You were at risk of getting kicked out of the tribe/village, and you were going to die unless you stopped doing whatever they disliked. If you asked a question and 10 people (out of 20-30) told you the same answer, it was probably what pretty much everybody believed. Our minds are wired in this way, that is, to respond to a barrage of uniform opinions, especially from people who are prominent or known to us. It is incredibly difficult to counter these biases even when you know they exist, and most people, I estimate, don't even really understand they exist.

Expand full comment

Some very sharp observations there.

Expand full comment

thank you

Expand full comment

This part is PERFECT:

"But at the risk of being crass: The size of the debt burden Musk has assumed makes such an evolution impossible.

He’s going to need to cut spending (meaning: employees) by something in the neighborhood of half. He will simultaneously need to pursue aggressive, immediate revenue growth (meaning: user growth). In short, Musk’s financial incentives—dictated to him by the hilariously bad deal he negotiated—mean that he probably has to make Twitter even worse.

Any chance that he could have improved the platform went out the window when ZIRP disappeared and the deal exploded in his face. The size and character of Musk’s debt load will probably compel Musk to make Twitter a worse product, no matter how much he loves humanity."

Perfectly said.

Expand full comment
founding

I completely agree with you about Twitter. It needs to die.

Expand full comment
founding

From your keyboard to God's ear, JVL! Unfortunately, Musk can do a lot of damage before Twitter's demise, first and foremost letting the Orange Menace back on the platform.

Expand full comment

If Elon has to compete with Trump for attention, Musk will kill the platform himself.

Expand full comment

I think letting him back on the platform will contribute substantively to its death--and it will decrease his electability and probably the electoral health of the GoP as well.

Expand full comment
Oct 29, 2022·edited Oct 30, 2022

I'd like to agree with you because it exposes how crazy and stinky he really is, but his true followers seem to be automatons who accept all his BS because as victims of a grifter they have invested too much to give up now

Expand full comment

It isn't the true believers that are going to elect him. There simply isn't enough of them. What elects him are people who are not true believers who vote for him anyway because of some excuse... inflation, crime, trans people, whatever.

Those people you can have an impact on. The true believers are unreachable, period.

Expand full comment

And take Facebook with it

Expand full comment

Facebook is dead unless you like your HOA gossip page or reading conspiracy theories from your MAGA Aunt Marge.

Expand full comment

FB is fine if you never read your wall, block anyone you don't want to read . I am there mainly for three reasons , my large HS class is there and that is how we stay in touch, I have younger family members who refuse to communicate any other way, so If I want to know what is going on in their lives...that is where I find out...and I play games..that's it ,and I don't have to deal with politics at all

Expand full comment
author

It's dying all on its own.

Expand full comment
founding

Question for you, JVL. You said in theory Musk could "fix" Twitter. Let's say for argument's sake he actually *wanted* to. Do you think this guy's smart enough to do that? Is anyone? Just asking...

Expand full comment

Knowing what to do is fairly easy. The problem isn't knowing what to do--the problem is that people would not like it and it would reduce revenue while increasing costs.

One of the things that I have noted over my life is that there ARE plenty of answers--and not just BS answers, but actual answers to issues that we face.

Most of these answers are, in one sense or another, unpleasant or unpopular. They often require hard work and sacrifice.

SO they ARE answers, but they aren't doable.

Expand full comment

You are entirely correct. Extremists are gaining control and we won't have peace until enough people decide the answers are worth the work. Until that happens, we'll need to fasten our seat belts for the bumpy ride ahead.

Expand full comment

More accurate to say, at least in the public sphere, that the difficult and/or unpleasant answers are politically improbable rather than not doable. They aren't the same, we just don't have politicians of the caliber needed.

Expand full comment

I would classify them as not doable, because our system and our culture is not going to raise up the type of politician in sufficient enough numbers unless or until some major changes happen.

Some probabilities are so low, they are essentially impossibilities.

Of course, some sort of black swan event throws all of that out of the window... sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

Expand full comment

One can always hope; black swans can be beautiful.

Expand full comment

Rhetorically, of course.

Expand full comment
founding

Ding! Ding!! DING!!!

Expand full comment