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      Ok, this place has mostly been about how fucked we are, and how we’ve fucked up. Blame is more on our leaders than us, but as a species we’re on the hook. But there is cause of hope because mostly we know what we have to do. We know we have to reduce CO2 and Methane emissions. We even know mostly how. We pretend we don’t, because the how will involve changin […]
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Elon Musk Is Imposing His World on Everybody

As if I haven’t said this ten times before, I am not very well versed in the complexities of the Computer Age, and its various plusses and minuses. I do think that the world might be much better off without the social media, but we are not individually able to implement the kind of world we want, at least not to any degree. And science does what it does, and then we have to deal with it; whereas ideally it might be the other way around. A cure for diseases and fixing the ecology of the planet is far more important than building space machines, and developing algorithms which essentially get used by the super-rich to control everyone else.

I remember when Twitter first started; and as usual, I did not know much about it. I saw a chyron on CNN or somewhere, entitled, “Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter challenge,” and I knew that this was not good. Apparently there was this new computer site called Twitter, where people could come on and write things, and then count up the replies. Kutcher, best known as the young boyfriend of Demi Moore, challenged CNN to see who could get more replies in a certain period. What fun.

So as usual, it all took off, and some people made hundreds of millions of dollars on it. Now, also as usual, the idea of “Twitter,” an egalitarian place where everyone could jump in and express his or her opinion, sounded promising. But of course it started to degenerate into the same people who were on Facebook,, writing insulting things, swarming on people in a cult-like response; making up lies, slandering others based on gender, race, religion, political views, the usual gamut.

So inevitably, there were demands for some kind of moderation of Twitter posts. And this is something that I did not follow, though I guess Jack Dorsey, who ran it, tried to some extent. But inevitably, no one was satisfied, because it is a bottomless abyss, trying to moderate speech.

I never joined Twitter; I would not, just like I never joined Facebook, which obviously may have seemed like an exciting idea at the time, but ultimately was used by Fascists and otherwise hateful people to spread complete lies and perverted fantasies about Hillary Clinton killing and eating babies. They also wrote completely false “news stories,” all intended to help Trump, his Russian handlers, and Far Right extremists, to damage their enemies, which were normal, intelligent, literate people who voted Democratic.

And the sociopath who started, or rather stole, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was either so fixated on his wealth and power, or so much in the camp of the fascists, that he let it all happen, even to the extent of having algorithms developed which would help the seditionists, racists, anti-semites, find like people to join up with. They also found that the more upset Facebook made the members, the more they would be involved, and the more searches they would do, and ka-ching! more billions for Zuckerberg! A more soulless and evil enterprise could scarcely be imagined even by the most dystopic of science fiction writers.

Facebook developed an unsavory reputation, but still made billions. Finally, they tried to escape by changing their name to Meta, and promising some weird virtual reality world for their members to live in. Another frightening science fiction theme becoming true.

Twitter continued, and they made some efforts to moderate content. They even banned Trump from Twitter, following the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021, which, as we learn more about every day, was literally intended to overthrow the elected government, give Trump an excuse to declare martial law (which fascist Marjorie Taylor Greene unironically called “marshall law”), and stay in power for as long as he chose.

Well, the MAGA hordes did not like this at all. And somehow we have gotten to the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. I do not believe that even the supreme egomaniac Musk thought of or did this on his own. I believe that there were forces urging and helping him? Who? Oh, we can think of Peter Thiel, and Murdochs, and Saudi Arabia, and Russia, and others. Anybody with an interest in creating a world where all the means of communication, and all the power to create their reality, is in the hands of a very few immensely rich people. It does not take too much imagination to see how that is happening.

I don’t know too much about Musk, but I never liked him, just from his bombastic and supremely arrogant pronouncements in the media over the last few years. Some say he is a racist, that his companies treat Black people terribly. Some say that he is the ultimate plutocrat, avoiding all taxes, and intending to control not only methods of transportation and communication, but also ideas, because he is sure that he knows better than anyone else.

I have rarely been surprised to the upside by anyone whom I immediately disliked for such reasons. There are always the cadre, and the literal bots, who jump in to adulate or support, and say, “He is a visionary, he means good.” But it is never true. And I would not want the fate of the human race to be put in the hands of narcissistic megalomaniacs, although that is certainly the trend.

So what harm can Musk do in running Twitter? Well, just his ability to control the dialogue is frightening. He has bought it, it is now a private company, he can institute any controls he wants, no one can stop him. He could ban all Jewish people or all Democrats from the site (he would not do so overtly, but there are all sorts of algorithms one can create), and very little could be done about it. Or he could simply create his own universe. “The World Musk Made,” to paraphrase a book title by the brilliant writer Philip K. Dick, where those people and ideas he did not like, were banned, or mocked, or shouted down.

Clearly, the Far Right is very excited about Musk buying Twitter. Carlson and the weird people on Fox were exuberant. Are they just all wrong, missing the story, as some very optimistic people would like to think? No. Not only does the Fascist Right have a very good sense as to what helps and hurts them, they communicate among themselves; and again, I think that there are forces out there who are allied with them, and with Musk. They know what the goal is, and how this helps them in their quest to subjugate the world.

So what do decent people do? Some have said that they must leave Twitter, and urged others to do so. Others said that this is not the right approach, that it would just leave the bad people dominating the site; good people must be there to respond and put forth their views. That is commendable, but I am not sure which of these approaches is the better one, and clearly neither should have to be the case.

We know that Trump is coming back. Musk said at the time that he should not be banned, just have a “time out.” Yes, plotting to deliver this country to Russia, to have elected officials murdered by a mob, and institute a totalitarian state, just calls for a small punishment, and then they can come back again, and try to do more of it. The absolute inanity and arrogance of Musk’s comments about that should disqualify him from ever having a voice in rational discussion, much less control the means of dissemination of ideas. But there he is.

Musk is described, or describes himself, as a “free speech absolutist.” Oh, that sounds impressive, just like “libertarian,” another word he uses to describe himself. These are cheap and immature descriptions, appealing to people who like that they appear to get rid of the shades of gray. “I am a libertarian, I believe that there should be no restrictions!” But of course they do not want that, they mean that they want no restrictions on them: no taxes, no laws about how they run their businesses. Meanwhile, they are happy to tell everyone else what to do.

How predictable that Musk always gets angry when he is criticized or investigated, as when some person was going through his flight logs. Libertarians are always like that. He is thin-skinned, certain of his own infalliblity; and with the economic power to crush his foes, to drive them into bankruptcy. Think Rockefeller, or Carnegie, Mellon, Chase, or Morgan, but with far more power to control the narrative, and the benefit of computer algorithms to enforce it.

Now, let’s look at the idea of no moderation of the social media. Sure, we will let anyone say what they want, and let the better ideas win! Musk has referred to Twitter as being “the public square,” as in medieval days. It was almost certainly never like that; and people were arrested and executed quite often, for “saying the wrong things,” “heresy,” “treason,” all of which were in the ears of those who didn’t like what someone said.

Getting past the appealing but illusory image of social media being a place where everyone can say their piece, people are not like this convenient fantasy ideal. There are some very deranged and evil and violent people who want to kill others, or have their minions do it. They post truly sickening things demonizing various minorities. They call for violence, arrest, and murder. They hide behind stupid screen names.

Is someone really that foolish, naive, or arrogant, to think that moderation is not required? That somehow decent folks will drown out the violent haters, so that they will go away? Does anyone see any sign of this? Does removing moderation somehow lead to it? Quite the opposite, as the haters well know, which is why they are so excited about Musk buying Twitter.

A fascinating question would revolve around the nature of moderation, the limits of free speech. The courts and the philosophers have struggled with that for centuries. Should anyone be allowed to say anything they want? I don’t think that any knowledgeable or aware person would think that; it would include the Nazis, the sadists, the pedophiles. So where is the line drawn, even tentatively?

It is essentially impossible to draw an effective line, though one could write some vague things, “We will not allow…” which do not mean much at all. That is why “free speech absolutism” appeals to rich, powerful, and shallow thinkers like Musk, it saves them from having to think about boundaries and implications.

And this simplicity appeals to similar people. “I have the answer! Let’s not moderate anybody!” If you do that, even if you somehow believe in it, you have chaos, you have hate and violence; and reasonable and moderate people get tired of being subjected to it, which is one of the goals of the evil people. That may well be what will happen on Musk Twitter: the bad people will get to say what they want; the decent people will be marginalized, and ultimately driven away in anger, frustration, or despair.

I think that it will be by degrees. We will see how someone we respect writes that he or she was blocked or banned from Twitter, whereas some hateful person was not. Slowly we can by induction figure out what the algorithms are, because there will be some. Twitter will eventually resemble the vision of Musk, a self-created Musk-centric world where he is the focus. Why do you think he wanted to spend $44 billion to buy Twitter, not something else? Because he craves attention, and he knows that control of the airwaves gives him immense power over society.

I don’t know what the best course of action is. Some say, wait and see, but I don’t think we need to do that, just as with Trump or Barr or the Supreme Court nominees of the Heritage Foundation. I don’t see how Musk could possibly “improve” Twitter, what would a “better Twitter” be like? He could make it worse. He certainly will be out there every day with his juvenile ideas.

It seems that people, particularly in this country, are absolutely fascinated by the concept of an immensely rich person telling them what to do, while making untold amounts of money. There are science fiction novels and movies with “genius” crackpots who want to rule the world; and people root for them to be stopped by the ordinary citizens or the superhero. But in a world where as far as we can discern it, there are no superheroes whose goal is to protect humanity, we would be much better off if we stopped admiring the super-rich egomaniacs, and thinking that because they found ways to make money, crush their competition, avoid taxes, get quoted daily, they are good people, or caring, or will help humanity.

Just think, if Musk had spent, oh, $10 billion on trying to fix the environment, replenish the water and forest supply, ameliorate global warming. He would still have $34 billion left, plus the other $500 billion or so in his coffers. But he needs to save that so that he and his small coterie can fly in his rocket ship to Mars, where he has said that he wants to live. They will leave the rest of the planet behind, like the refuse of a wild party they reveled in.

Maybe Musk will create a giant hologram of himself for Earth inhabitants to see in the night sky, along with the Tesla Roadster he had launched into space in 2010, and is currently orbiting around the sun, a testament to the great god Musk, and the space junk and verbal and written garbage he is endlessly creating, and relentlessly forcing on the world. He’s not going for a carving on Mt. Rushmore, as Fox kept pushing for Trump to get, he wants the entire solar system to be named after him.

More like him will follow. Maybe they will fight wars, with the armies of vassals they force into service. Maybe the vassals who kill the most will get red checks and extra Likes, and be told that they “won Twitter for the day.” Or maybe the masters of the world will be satisfied with battling to become the first quintillionaire, and having interplanetary parties. For a while, but then the insatiable need to be the most important and the most powerful, will impel them to battle–on live streaming Galaxy TV, of course.


7 Responses

  1. Whatever it is Musk is up to can’t be beneficent because he spent a king’s ransom for a media platform that is not Fox News.
    That right there should tell you something.

  2. I didn’t trust twitter before, I don’t trust it even more so now. A whole lot of rage on that platform. I remember it scaring me and traumatizing me somehow every time I used it. Every now and then someone will write an excellent thread though. Reddit scares me too, it’s sort of like the cyber living room for amoral, porno binge-watching, coke heads.

    • In a way, it is like one is four years old, and just wants to play in the sandbox, or throw and catch a ball with nice children, or splash in the shallow end of the pool, and then a bunch of bullies come along and knock things over and spoil it for everyone but themselves. Some adult supervision or some maturing might help, but these sites get filled up with spite and meanness. Why can’t people talk about favorite films, or food, without having idiots try to show how clever or smart they are in the most belligerent way? Actually, I slept better before I would peruse Twitter on the bigger news stories, and truly realized how many jerks there are out there. Sometimes one sees comments from sincere people, who seem to mostly be middle-aged women who hope that the world improves.

  3. I deleted my Twitter account. My sole reason for being on it was to interact with people in the food world. But most of those involved in that sphere left there and are now on Instagram. Musk buying it was another good reason for me to leave.

    Roz in NJ/NYC

  4. No one is quite sure what is going on, but Ben Collins, who does excellent work tracking the vast right-wing conspiracy, says that 200,000 Katy Perry “followers” left Twitter, and 100,000 Taylor Swift followers left. Meanwhile, DeSantis gained 100,000 followers, and Bolsinaro of Brazil gained 50,000.

    It is believed that these are not bots, that once the Musk news was announced, apolitical users started to leave Twitter, and right-wing people joined en masse. So it may be, that as planned and expected by these groups, Twitter will become another Far Right-dominated platform, to go with all of the rest of them. If it is filled with them, it doesn’t really matter what the moderating is,; just all fascism, all the time, like a menu at House of Pancakes, with a few different syrups to make the items look different. It is too early to know what will shake out, but the simplest explanation is probably the most obvious. Maybe someone will start another platform? But it seems that just about all of them are run by the Far Right.

    • The industrial-technological system may survive or it may break down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine.

      Don’t know about the ‘other living organisms”, but we are edging closer to simply being cogs in the machine all the time. Musk’s purchase of twitter has the potential for revving up the right wing noise machine to formula 1 levels. I hope it doesn’t get there, but hoping for the major media or congress to do something about this is futile, IMO.

  5. Hillary Clinton’s Madeleine Albright tribute –

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