Sunday, November 27, 2022

Identifying The Problem

Memo to right-wing Twitter: YOU ARE BREAKING TWITTER.

This is a bit of an expansion of some thoughts I had in the early days of the post-Elon Twitter Upfuckery, but the fun, for sufficiently loose definitions of fun, part of all this is that post-Elon Twitter is a rare example of right-wing conspiracy theories meeting reality and exploding.

The reason this doesn’t happen very often is that there are systems in place whose sole purpose is to deliberately insulate the beliefs of the right from reality. For a long time, that insulating layer were Republicans in power, who played along with the rubes but didn’t get high on their own supply.

But by the time the inmates were fully in charge of the asylum, the combination of generally complex systems and an entire infrastructure designed to create an alternate version of reality meant that right-wing conspiracy theories were rarely acted upon, and, on the off chance they were, the results of that were obfuscated to make sure the worldview’s legitimacy remained intact.

But not so with Twitter. Take, for example, the legalization of comedy. Musk’s infamous tweet stemmed from the mistaken right-wing belief that Twitter’s moderation was inconsistent and capricious because the evil leftists in charge were silencing and shadowbanning right-wing voices who just wanted to use the n-word for genocide jokes, while left-wing  scolds who can’t take a joke roamed free.

This, of course, was not true. Twitter’s moderation was inconsistent and capricious because, first, moderation is hard, and second, Twitter’s moderation goal wasn’t “keep people safe” but rather “prevent Twitter from being yelled at too badly”, which made them very slow to react to things like neo-Nazi death threat campaigns.

The solution was, at least nominally, FrEe SpEeCh, defined as “zero consequences for the vilest fucking ideas on the planet”, which of course blew up when some of the new legal comedy was anti-Musk free speech, which didn’t stay free for very long.

An even bigger example is the Blue Check Debacle, still unfolding as I write this. The right-wing conspiracy theory was that Twitter’s blue check system was elitist and capricious because the Elites wanted to impose their Elite Faux Expertise on the unwashed masses, and that’s why their COVID-denial account couldn’t get a blue check. They even turned “blue-check” into one of their fun made up pejoratives.

In reality, blue checks were elitist and capricious because tech weirdos have starfucker tendencies and power corrupts and instead of checks meaning “you are who you say you are” they decided it meant “we’re not going to bother letting people know you are who you say you are unless we think you’re important” which is a fundamentally elitist and capricious metric.

But because they had incorrectly identified the problem in their eternal quest for victimhood, Twitter’s “fix” was to let everyone have the “important” part for a nominal fee and ignore the “you are who you say you are” part. Great solution to the problem if that was the problem but of course it wasn’t and it blew up spectacularly and now they’re scrambling to find a convoluted plan that pretends they were right all along while keeping people from impersonating Eli Lilly.

They’re also firing everybody, because Those People are known shiftless, lazy types and nobody could possibly have any expertise because there’s no such thing as people with expertise! Those People are white dudes for a change but that hasn’t stopped them from being painted as worthy victims of Elon’s Righteous Crusade Against The Unworthy.

It’s all playing out in real time, and failing spectacularly, because, again, the insulating layers that keep this from happening are mostly absent. Elon himself is a product and active member of right-wing white nationalist faux-aggrieved Twitter, so he’s ruling based on those beliefs. And because Twitter is its own broadcast network, in a way, it’s all being aired, publicly, in real time, with minimal filtration. It’s glorious to watch, assuming you can isolate that feeling from the giant pile of collateral damage that’s happening.

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