Having been a member since 2009, I was sincerely disappointed with news that resident fake genius and racist CEO, Elon Musk, would be the new owner of Twitter near the end of 2022. Twitter has long been my social media of choice and was the destination I chose to put most of my social media time into once I decided to vacate the personal informational security trash fire that Facebook was quickly turning into. As someone who was sick of seeing people they new personally spend all day rage-typing at idiots and people I went to high school with toss up casually (and often overtly) racist posts in my news feed, I enjoyed the random aspect of getting insights, opinion, and humor from people I didn’t know. However, people I DID know retweeted that content into my eyeballs on Twitter and allowed me to follow (or block) all sorts of randomness, hilarity, and celebrity musings. I grew to enjoy getting breaking news directly from the sources, or people on the ground where something important was happening — in real time.
The downside of Twitter is that because it’s random, the very worst aspects of humanity felt free to post their heinous thoughts, unbridled harassment, and racist diatribes for everyone to see (under the all-too-false guise of anonymity). This made an often hilarious and fun social media experience (mostly through the efforts of Black Twitter) another arena where marginalized people were, once again, forced to wade through the pigs trough of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and violent content we’ve all come to know the internet for. So much of the internet’s genuine humor and viral memes originate with Black Twitter and openly fostering a hostile environment for that valuable userbase should come with consequences.
Now with the purchase of Twitter Musk is free to continue his own brand of racist mocking while reinstating the accounts of far right trolls and perpetrators of online harassment. The once thin veil of moderation has now been complete obliterated with Musk’s firing of the bulk of Twitter’s staff, including large numbers of platform security and moderation staff. The person who callously told his POC staff to have a “thick skin” while enduring racism at the hands of his Tesla employees, is now in charge of one of the most crucial information networks for community organizers, protestors, mutual aid providers, pro-worker organization, and breaking news involving crises and humanitarian issues. I don’t care to list all of Twitter’s current issues, but let’s just say after a month, I’m glad I have relocated to other spaces.
The biggest takeaway for me is much like my time on Facebook, the reemergence of far right and even fascist elements of the Twitter fanbase has skyrocketed the abuse and racist language present on the site. I, for one, am not willing to “stick it out” and subject myself to abuse and racism just to stay on Twitter. We’ve moved to new sites before and we can do it again. Marginalized folks are always asked to “suck it up,” “just deal with it,” “be the bigger person,” “fight hate with love, ” blah blah blah. I am not here for it. This brand of putting the onus on the victims and requiring them while the perpetrators are allows to accost and always skate on the blessing of the “gracious, high-road victim” is for the birds — no pun intended. You don’t think we see all the hate speech, thinly veiled threats of violence, and general white supremacist culture you allow to flourish while flagging out responses for potential hate speech violations? None of us were born yesterday and that half-assed plausible deniability is as old as the racism it was built on.
I think we need to exercise a healthy does of caring for our own mental well being and refuse to hang around for information martyrdom just to “fight back” or “show them they can’t win.” Twitter needs our engagement, clicks, and continued use for it to benefit its new owner. We don’t owe Twitter that. Matter of fact, we should actively deny Twitter the lifeblood it needs to help this non-genius. I’m OK with moving on and have since opened my own Mastodon instance (which is another long post in and of itself) to actively control the space I’ve chosen to occupy in social media.
I refuse to have to bear the burden of weeding out the worst the internet has to offer while simultaneously watching those same people being offered a platform to spew their garbage. It’s not on us. It’s on you: The masses, the American majority, the racists, the platforms, the corporations, the society, and on and on…