Thoughts & Essays

A few thoughts on Twitter

Elon Musk threw a temper tantrum last night and kicked a handful of journalists off Twitter for “doxxing him.”

Hang on, we probably need to back up a bit for the non-Twitter folk.

So, there was this account on Twitter called “ElonJet.” I don’t think it’s there anymore because Dollar Store Tony Stark suspended the account during a different temper tantrum the other day. But anyway, ElonJet tweeted the location of Musk’s jet. That location is publicly available information because it’s a jet, and jets have to file flight plans and whatnot, and the government keeps track of where all those are and makes that information public. The guy who ran ElonJet also ran a bunch of other accounts tracking various famous folks’ planes and like NASA flights and other fun public information. All those accounts were suspended, too, as well as the guy’s personal account.

The ElonJet account has been an annoyance to Musk for awhile. A year back he tried to buy the account from the guy running it for a couple grand, and the guy told Musk to go take a long walk off a short pier. I think Musk tried or is going to try to sue the guy, too. He wants that account stopped. It pisses him off.

I guess the plane-tracking thing – tracking any plane by way of public information – is one of those very niche nerd joys. It’s not hurting anyone, and apparently it’s not particularly difficult to do as long as you want to invest the time in learning the required lingo and whatnot. So even if Musk were to somehow succeed at having ElonJet scrubbed from the Internet in its entirety, all that information about where his jet is would still be totally available to anyone who wanted it.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory that claims that the reason Musk even bought Twitter in the first place was so he could ban the ElonJet account, and the Internet thought it was fucking hilarious when Musk actually suspended that account for “doxxing him.”

There is a special joy in tweaking the nose of some rich douchecanoe who thinks their money enables them to do literally anything. There’s something truly delightful in watching Discount Lex Luthor tackle some nobody with a Twitter account and lose. It warms the cold, black cockles of our jaded little Internet-rotted hearts. And I think the fact that everyone was laughing at him over this stupid feud was pissing Musk off even more than the actual ElonJet account tweeting his jet’s whereabouts.

I like to imagine him shaking his fist as he signed the paperwork for Twitter, shouting “I’ll show them! I’ll show them all!” and then suspending the ElonJet account the second he thought he could get away with it. I like to imagine the baffled look on his face as he realizes that instead of shutting us all up, we’re only laughing at him harder after he banned the account.

Musk suspending the ElonJet account stirred up a tempest in a teakettle on Twitter, and several reporters were covering the drama. Last night, that handful of reporters found their Twitter accounts arbitrarily suspended. Queue up a big ol’ shitstorm over that on Twitter as folks realized what happened. The shitstorm was followed by one of Musk’s polls asking if and when he should reinstate these accounts. (When I saw the poll “immediately” was winning, but apparently it settled out at seven days?)

Meanwhile, the suspended accounts discovered that due to the fact that Twitter is basically falling apart in little bits at a time, they could still join and participate in Twitter Spaces, which is the weird audio product Twitter rolled out awhile back. So these journalists and a couple of other suspended accounts (including ElonJet, LOL) joined a Space to discuss the situation, and Elon Musk himself jumped into the Space. The reporters, being reporters, began questioning him, and after the very teeniest, tiniest, slightest pushback on his decision-making, Elon abandoned the Space, and, this morning, deleted Spaces entirely from the site.

That soft roar you’ve been hearing all morning is the sound of hundreds of thousands of Twitter users rolling around dying fucking laughing at Elon Musk.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my stupid Twitter account since this whole mess started. I don’t really want anything to do with the busted-ass Truth Social/Gab/Parler clone Twitter is becoming under Musk’s ownership. He reinstated a bunch of stupid Nazi accounts, unsuspended Trump’s account (tho’ Trump isn’t using it at the moment), and has just generally been a flailing fail machine for the last several months.

On one hand, it is fascinating to watch someone fail this hard, out loud, in public, in front of God and everybody. Like, I’ve seen some pretty wild failures in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. This is some top-notch schadenfreude-flavored entertainment, folks. On the other hand, everything that was bad on Twitter – and there was a lot, y’all – is getting exponentially worse under Musk’s “leadership.”

They say you shouldn’t delete your account, because some spammer or whatever might steal your handle if you do. I’ve also read that you shouldn’t just let your account sit idle, because it might get deleted for being abandoned? I don’t know. My Twitter account has no audience to speak of – I think I’m down to 170 followers and I’m pretty sure half of those are abandoned accounts, so if I dump the thing it’s not like I’m losing anything.

What I am losing, if I ditch Twitter, is the carefully curated news discovery feed I’ve built over the last twelve years I’ve been on the site. I have put considerable time and effort into curating my timeline, through careful follows, muted words and accounts, and browser plugin tweaks, to turn that damn site into a steady feed of useful news, information, and ideas. I haven’t found a neat way to replicate that, yet, and I’m kind of pissed I’m losing it.

For the time being, I’ve deleted all my tweets and likes and whatever other personal information I had attached to the account, and it’s just sitting there with a “good-bye” tweet pinned to the top. I may set it to just tweet links to my blog posts, too. I dunno.

But at this point I’m actively looking to replace the functionality I got from Twitter, and working to remove myself from its use. The site is bad, the vibes there are bad, and it’s all getting worse. And I don’t think I want anything to do with it anymore.

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