Elon Musk Just Did The World A Huge Favor: He Killed Twitter

So long, Twitter!

In the end, it was deliberate. Elon Musk killed Twitter. Buying Twitter turned out to be an ego-driven mistake. Gamesmanship gone bad. But, Elon saw a way to profit regardless – one way or another. And, so, when Elon entered Twitter’s offices with a sink, what he really had in his hands was a sledgehammer. He flat out fired half the work force. Then he ultimatum-ed the rest: make a ludicrous employment deal or eff off. Don’t think that was purposeful? Those who stayed are indeed hardcore. And utterly soulless. Elon is turning Twitter into a monument to why no one should own a public square app like Twitter. Or Mastodon. I now believe this wholeheartedly: Elon did the world a huge favor by killing Twitter.

He forced us all to the elephant. For that, we may end up eternally grateful. Weird, hunh? Go with me…

Elon’s Twitter project today isn’t the Twitter project Elon started with. He changed purpose mid-stream. Want proof? Just read his tweets before and after. Why did Elon tweet “vote for Republicans”? Not that we didn’t know Elon’s heart (such as it is), but why, suddenly, the need to rub our noses in it? Ick! Tweets (and toots) carry our voice inside them. We’ve all read Elon’s tweets – and purpose – quite clearly. One thing Elon doesn’t do is “subtle”.

On Being A Public Square

Before Elon bought Twitter, Twitter’s ownership – its final arbiter of everything – wrestled with the terrible responsibilities of being 1) a public space and 2) a crossroads for information. This is Twitter’s secret sauce. It’s very simple, public-square-like architecture. It really is like “Speakers’ Corner” in London’s Hyde Park. In essence, whoever owns Twitter owns a virtual “Speakers’ Corner”. In the real deal, anyone can walk in, soapbox under their arm (real or theoretical) and start speaking, hoping to draw a crowd.

Since it’s hard to draw a crowd at first (in Twitter parlance, “followers”), it’s better to go visit other people on their soapboxes. We can comment on what the person on the soapbox is saying. We can heckle them or cheer them. If we do it cleverly, that could be what draws people to our soapbox. It comes down to CONTENT.

In a public square environment, people enter either providing content or consuming it. The cool thing is, the same person can do both – simultaneously.

Welcome To The Fediverse

It’s all about content. Twitter’s architecture makes it easy for content to change hands. But, to enter the Twitter Public Square, one had to register with Twitter and agree to a lot of boiler plate written by lawyers representing a public company (back then). The key is, one could only enter Twitter via Twitter’s server. It’s a uni-verse.

Mastodon, by contrast, is a multi-verse. In its parlance, a fediverse. A federation of independent servers. “Instances”. All independent by design. Yet all connected to this fediverse. There’s not one entry point to this place, there are an infinite number of entry points. Servers can serve thousands or they can serve one person. A server’s volunteer host can deny someone space on their server, but they can’t deny them access to anything else. No one owns the fediverse and no one can. That’s what makes Mastodon unique in the after-Twitter world.

We NEED A “Twitter” – a virtual public square app where reliable information can go to flourish. There’s a reason that news broke on Twitter. It’s the same reason every big brand on the planet had a presence there. Twitter struggled to make money because its function isn’t a money-maker. Not unless you wreck the core function.

New World, New Culture

I’ll be honest. My first experience with Mastodon was off-putting. It felt strange and kinda foreign. I assumed the culture was the same – and I caught snark for it. But, after spending a little more time observing this new world and its culture, I realized that my initial bumps were all my own fault. Bulls in china shops get bumps. That was me.

Once I let the Mastodon game come to me? I got it. And I liked it. A lot.

For starters, no one at Mastodon calls “Twitter” by its name. We refer to it as “#birdsite”. I prefer #birdshite, but that’s just me.

More importantly, Mastodon’s nature and Twitter’s are entirely antithetical. Twitter is all about selling shit. Mastodon’s is all about relationships and sharing information. Mastodon – in its soul and in its architecture – wants to be a true “information crossroads”.

Selling things openly is, in fact, frowned on. That’s why Big Business will never (should never) find itself at home here. It’s not meant for them, their money or their influence. It’s not meant for their corruption either.

Elon & His Algorithm

Ya see, there’s no algorithm on Mastodon. In essence, all toots really are created equal. Oh, sure, there are ways for people to gang up and boost each other (Twitter’s version of retweeting), but it’s a lame version of taking things viral on Twitter. When they hit the fediverse, my toot is as good as anyone else’s.

Does it make a difference? Yes! A ton of difference! My traffic didn’t drop because I stopped using Twitter, it increased. A lot. I found myself reaching audiences I’d never reached before. Because of the algorithm.

Because of Twitter.

A ain’t special. If Elon Musk did ME a favor, he did everyone a favor. And – just me being honest here – Elon did me a huge favor. He killed Twitter – the thing that was holding me and all of us back from success.

In the end, the joke will be entirely on Elon and his greedy, power-mad pals. They thought they destroyed the world’s information crossroads – the one thing that could stop their dreams of hegemony. Alas, greed never makes anyone smarter. Donald Trump is all the evidence anyone needs. Elon and Peter Thiel and Vlad Putin and MBS may envision a bleak world where they control all the information.

That will not happen. Mastodon is why. It’s de-centralized architecture means independent thought will endure. That is, so long as there’s enough juice to power up all our computers and phones.

In the end, Elon can and probably will make money off of Twitter. He won’t make a dime from Twitter being an information crossroads. He’ll make a few dollars as a platform for the world’s hard right lunatics. The real money – for a while – will come from allowing Twitter users to transfer their crypto from place to place. He’s floated that idea.

But, alas, crypto ain’t long for this world because crypto’s a giant Ponzi scheme. But that’s a whole other favor the bro’s are now doing us.

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