Hello all and welcome back to So Right It’s Wrong. This week I’m diving into a current event and examining what makes it potentially one of the most important financial acquisitions in the last decade. You guessed it — we’re talking about Elon Musk buying Twitter.
To grasp why this is possibly some of the biggest news of 2022, we must first hit the rewind button. Following President Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the 2016 election, right-wing political junkies took to Twitter singing The Donald’s praises and having a laugh at Hillary’s expense. There were a lot of “ding dong the wicked witch is dead” type of posts.
As you could imagine, many Hillary supporters did not take the gloating kindly. Admittedly, I reveled in Trump’s victory and Hillary’s loss as much as the next person (Editor’s Note: understatement, can personally attest). I was unsure of what Trump would bring to America, but I felt a certain shift in the way I felt about our country. That’s not to say that I had some great hope that Trump was going to resuscitate our nation instantly, but I did feel hope about having something new prowling the White House instead of another lifelong political monster.
As time wore on, Trump’s blunt and bullying ways on Twitter grew contagious to his followers, me included. It did not take long before Twitter turned into a platform for strangers to call one another idiots simply for political ideology. For a while, folks would sign in just to get an outrage rush. Twitter became the Chernobyl of social media. You could take a nice day and turn it sour in an instant by signing into the platform. Simply put, social media became insanely, unbelievably toxic.
Some of my less-politically involved friends managed to stay with the platform and block out all the political banter, but for me, I couldn’t let it go. I had to stay up to date on who our bulldog of a president was dragging through the muck, and the reason for said muck-dragging.
After three years of Trump slowly bringing America’s economy back up to par, I was deep into political Twitter. I felt I was on the right side of everything with the support of a thousand followers who all saw the world through the same red-tinted glasses. I had fallen into an echo chamber where anything I thought, I tweeted, and then it was reverberated back to me. To be honest, it felt great and gave me a sense of nearly always being right.
In retrospect, all it really accomplished for me was causing me to have an increasingly narrow view of the world. Some ding-dong I’ll never meet thinks I’m a blithering moron? Block and mute that account. Trump is going to start a war? Block and mute. Twitter had created a place where I could live in a vacuum of always being right and everything is roses.
Next came the Covid era of Twitter. A national pandemic really shook me loose from the haze that I had fallen into. For the first time in years, I was unsure of what was right, and I honestly think Trump found himself in the same boat as myself, suddenly unsure after years of unshakable — if misguided — confidence. When Trump was making policies that had tangible results, visible every time you went to pay for groceries or gas, I felt certain Trump was right. With a virus that may or may not be deadly, that certainty just melts away.
In truth, I think the virus was overhyped and the situation was manipulated quite well to benefit Joe Biden in the 2020 election. It left Trump vacant of certain right choices to make and inevitably led to him being removed from the Twitter platform.
With Trump banished from Twitter and the Covid narrative taking over the timeline, up until Biden’s inauguration, I tripled my efforts to sift through tweets to find some truth. Conspiracies and propaganda flooded the popular social media platform. I felt utterly lost in it all. Trump was gone, a man better suited for Summit Manor had occupied the White House, and I no longer felt right about anything.
At this point, most right-wing Twitter commentators and personalities were certain their accounts had been moderated to minimize their visibility and stunt the growth of their list of followers. The echo chamber had turned from a chorus of American success (in my eyes) to a pit of despair. If I thought Twitter was a toxic place when I was always right, it felt like swimming through radioactive sludge once that facade of righteousness fell away. Twitter had gone from the Wild West to a place where saying the wrong thing about the pandemic would end in your account being shut down. Inevitably, my account was banned, and I had to leave Twitter and it’s Orwellian ways behind.
Now, back to the present day. When Wes, our owner/editor here at The County Line, approached me about sharing my thoughts and opinions on the website, I felt the need to rejoin social media to help share articles and to interact with my peers as well as the readers. I created a Twitter account, and for the first time in over a year, I found myself scrolling the timeline and scoffing at the narratives being pushed through social media. For the last month or so, while having a Twitter account, I’ve left it relatively inactive for fear of getting sucked back into the mire.
Enter Elon. The South African-born billionaire is most famous for his ownership of Tesla and SpaceX. Typically, I’m an anti-billionaire type of guy. I certainly don’t fault the extremely rich for their success, but usually people with that type of wealth have no grasp on what reality is for folks who grind out 40- or 50-hour weeks just to make a living. I’m talking about regular people, people living paycheck to paycheck, people who work to pay their bills, people like me (and probably you).
Elon likely has no idea what living with financial stress is like, but as active as he has been on Twitter, he strikes me as someone that at least knows what is funny to regular citizens. When one person asked him to also buy McDonald’s and fix their perpetual broken ice cream machine problem, he quipped “Listen, I can’t do miracles, OK.” When United States Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Elon of potentially allowing “hate speech” on Twitter, he simply replied “stop hitting on me, I’m really shy.” Elon seems like a funny man of the people.
I’m not certain that Twitter had really been moderating right-leaning accounts, but what I do know is this: They removed my account for saying what I believed was happening with the pandemic, and they removed the account of the sitting president for the same reason in an election year. That’s some unprecedented power. For the first time in my life, we had a major public forum where opinions and thoughts could be shared across the country, and the powers that be took it away. Right or wrong, I believe that unless what someone is saying is illegal, they have a right to voice that opinion. The former controllers of Twitter apparently did not agree. They silenced Donald Trump. They silenced me and countless others who did not go along with their narrative.
I am hoping that once Elon officially takes the reins on the massive Twitter public forum, he can drain the toxicity of it. Everyone can hopefully have a voice, right or wrong. Elon says he plans to bring the fun back to Twitter, and considering his light-hearted responses to mean-spirited tweets directed at him, I have high hopes.
Musk says he plans to champion free speech within the constraints of the law, meaning if something is so egregious that we don’t think people should say it, we will create laws against it. Otherwise, it’s open-season on saying whatever you feel. Beware of finding yourself in an echo chamber, but I say get out there and start sharing those beliefs and opinions. We never know when we may find something brilliant from the least likely of sources.