Tag Archives: Twitter

The death of twitter and the process of enshittification in the tech world

Only a month after Twitter’s primitive AI content moderation locked my account for a sarcastic tweet attacking supporters of George W. Bush , Twitter is dying. Elon Musk seems to have fired too many necessary tech people along with all of the deadweight in content moderation and censorship.

Good riddance. It’s a miserable, and highly addictive, social media network that only brings out the worst in people. Even worse, it no longer works the way it originally did. Before 2014 or so, you followed x number of people. You got their tweets in your timeline. Now you have to sift through an endless parade of people you don’t follow and never intend to follow but who the algorithm thinks you should follow. In this sense, Musk changed very little. Last year when the Democrats controlled Twitter you were spammed with Tweets by Molly Jong Fast. Now you’re spammed with tweets by Ben Shapiro. Privileged liberals and privileged conservatives are equally annoying.

The whole process (bait you with something good and then switch it out with crap after you’re locked in) has become so normal in the tech world that Cory Doctorow has coined a term that fits so well it’s worth reading the whole article .

On Leftist Twitter Mobs


Stop reading Confucius you ableist. Get out in the fields and pick some rice.

Last Thursday night, I was attacked by a leftist mob on Twitter, “dragged” to use the commonly accepted parlance. First they went for the resume I have posted on this website. After they realized that it’s a satirical resume with no real information, useless for “doxing” me, they turned to my review of Wonder Woman. My observation that Gal Gadot is a very attractive woman offended them deeply. I was “sexualizing” and “objectifying” a “badass heroine.” Surely, they seemed to believe, this revealed me as a creepy old white man, and would inevitably lead to my losing all 1200 of my followers on Twitter. When that didn’t happen – I lost about 30 – they began to insult me. I was a shitty writer. I was bald. I was ugly. I was sexually frustrated. I was an ugly old, bald, sexually frustrated failed writer with a raging hard on for a Zionist war criminal (the above mentioned Gal Gadot), all of which of course is perfectly true, and none of which had the desired effect, that I “delete my account” on Twitter. Finally, they wheeled out the leftist weapon of mass destruction. One of my trolls, who had a female screen name and a physical appearance as feminine as mine I masculine, was a self-identified “gender queer,” and my use of the pronouns “she” and “her” had revealed me as a “transphobe” and almost certainly a “Gamergater,” which, they declared, was obvious after a more careful examination of the above mentioned satirical resume. So they spent the next two days filling my “mentions” with scatological memes, Photoshopping corncobs onto my eyebrows, and congratulating themselves that they had “dunked” on me real good.


I guess the Photoshopped corncob over the eyebrow is the leftist Twitter troll’s version of the dunce cap.

While none of this is particularly surprising or uncommon, it is notable, if only because, for me, the shoe is usually on the other foot. I’m a leftist myself. I’m an enthusiastic participant in leftist Twitter mobs, and have no intention of giving it up simply because I’ve seen it from the other side. I highly recommend it. Leftist Twitter mobs are a cheap, no risk, enjoyable way of turning the tables on the elite, most, if not all of whom have Twitter account. That Hillary Clinton supporter who insists on using the term “Berniebro” well into 2017? Drag him. That overpaid New York Magazine columnist who whines about “free speech” whenever a group of Nazis is chased off campus, but remains silent about the ongoing suppression of the BDS movement? Drag him. That white actress who insists on taking roles as Asians or Native Americans? Drag her. Of course she has an intern who answers her tweets, doesn’t know you exist, and won’t notice the social media campaign flooding her “mentions” with hate, but drag her anyway. Yesterday, leftist Twitter found a particularly deserving target, Kevin Drum, a so-called “liberal” who writes for Mother Jones magazine, but who seems to have been wrong on every issue since the Iraq War, which he supported. This week he outdid himself, writing a short essay wondering why “people” are disgusted by the homeless. I observed that the homeless of course are people, and my response, perhaps influenced by the way I had been in his place only the day before, was fairly mild. Other people were not so restrained.


My trolls tweeted this image at me repeatedly.

So what did I do to deserve being “dragged?” Did I speculate on why “we” find the homeless “disgusting?” Did I make a racist or homophobic remark? Did I say something genuinely transphobic or genuinely sexist? Of course not. I had, rather, blundered into an ongoing and perennial debate among social media leftists about education, and, by doing so, revealed myself to be “ableist.” Reading Marxist theory, it seems, is occasionally used by white male leftist “gatekeepers” to exclude the mentally disabled, women, the poor, and people of color from the left. It takes time, leisure, and a lot of formal education to make it through the entire three volumes of Capital. Besides, some people argue, since working class people live the reality of class struggle everyday, they don’t have to read about it in a book written 150 years ago. Privileging the written word is, well, privileged. I had meant to say “there should be no hierarchies on the left. Everybody should be an intellectual. Everybody should get an education.” It was interpreted to mean “only educated people should be allowed on the left.”

Twitter being Twitter, a microblogging system with a 144 character limit, I did not have time to sufficiently develop my argument, but if I had, it would have gone something like this. Working class people don’t need to be told not to worry about formal education. In fact, the less “privileged” you are, the more you need books like Capital, Wealth of Nations, Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare. For the genuinely wealthy and privileged, life under capitalism makes sense. It seems rational. You work hard, you get what you want, and even if you don’t work hard, life always seems to turn out okay. For the working-class, on the other hand, life under late capitalism can be a thoroughly baffling experience. Why can’t I pay my bills? Why can’t I afford good health care? Why does it seem that the harder I work the poorer I get? The ruling class doesn’t want us to understand the system that keeps them rich. They want to keep us ignorant. They deluge us with propaganda, TV shows, bad movies, comic books, shitty music, cable TV news, all of which is designed to make us feel that the world we live in is the only possible world. Just read a play by Shakespeare or listen to a piano sonata by Beethoven on the other hand, however, and you instantly realize that that “another world is possible.” The scales fall off your eyes. You feel yourself in touch with the deepest and most humane impulses of humanity. Adam Smith or Karl Marx may take time and study but it’s worth finding a way to learn their major works. Both men made mistakes, but both provide you with a critical perspective that helps you begin to understand why the world is the way it is. Besides, while Wealth of Nations and Capital are both difficult books, they’re both much easier than the Bible, which is a devilishly hard work to master. If the same evangelical Christians we call inbreds and morons can make it through the Book of Deuteronomy, surely even the most disadvantaged leftist can make it through the Communist Manifesto.

Alas, however, it all came across as “this cis gender white man hates transpeople and the disabled.” Perhaps, as Marshall McLuhan argued, “the medium is the message.” What I noticed in my leftist trolls, the virtue signaling instantly turning into ferocious anger when contradicted, the self-congratulatory tribalism, had a startlingly familiar quality to many Republicans I’ve tilted with online. Indeed, much of what my leftist trolls filled my “mentions” with over the past few days, the memes, the sex shaming, the obsession with human excrement, the harsh accusations that I was ‘being too emotional,” was almost indistinguishable from what I used to get from the Trump Train. The democratic, anti-elitist effect of social media, while genuine, is not genuinely socialist, but rather populist. The leveling effect of “dragging” a member of the elite on Twitter works both ways. It does indeed cut the target down to size, but it also puts blinkers on the members of the angry leftist, or right wing populist, mob. If the Trump Train sees everything as a liberal conspiracy funded by George Soros, my leftist trolls seemed to think everybody they didn’t like was somehow a member of “Gamergate.” Indeed, their obsession with a largely online feud that very few people outside of social media enthusiasts have even heard of was startling. Even if I were as sexist, racist, transphobic, sexually frustrated or abelist as my trolls maintained, I’m still a 51-year-old man, far outside the Gamergate demographic, and couldn’t name the five most popular video games if you held a gun to my head. Perhaps I should just take my own advice and read a book, or, better yet, ride my bike. That would be good advice, but it’s advice I doubt I’ll take. Social media for me is as much of an addiction as Diet Coke, and I’ll almost certainly be back on Twitter tomorrow morning. Oh hell, I’ll be there tonight.

Twitter: The Id of the Worrrrrld of Tomorrooooow!

“I got summer hating on me ’cause I’m hotter than the sun/got spring hating on me ’cause I ain’t never sprung/winter hating on me ’cause I’m colder than y’all/and I would never, I would never, I would never fall/I’m being hated by the seasons/so fuck y’all , hating for no reason.”

 – “Mr. Carter” by Lil Wayne (featuring Jay-Z) off of Tha Carter III (2008)

I don’t Tweet. I’ve tried a couple of times, but even for an aspiring obsessive-compulsive self-trained as a child to hunt for every worthless item within the fantasy worlds of obtuse Japanese RPGs, trying to catch up on the witticisms of those I followed after a lapse of checking my account for even a couple of days repeatedly dissuaded me. What I truly enjoy is reading about Twitter. It’s the sort of thing that makes the would-be intellectual confident they’ve earned their professorial beard and pessimistic ennui. It is the distillation of first-world humanity’s collective id, our frustrated inner child, the hole we leave in the wall right after we stub our toe, the reason we want that pack of dogs Michael Vick abused to be retrained so, if just for a day, they can eat Adrian Peterson, and then be retrained back. It’s also why we know that won’t happen, or, at least if it does, one of the dogs will maul another one of the dogs or something before they get retrained back to being nice dogs. Can you Manchurian Candidate dogs like that? I’m not sure. I’ve always been a cat person.

I’ve recently gone through a long piece about Vanessa Place, a person (a “conceptual poet”) doing a thing (okay, I’ve had my fun), specifically, tweeting the entirety of Gone with the Wind piece-by-piece, and the controversy this has garnered. Posted alongside racist caricatures and depictions of blacks from throughout history, the project is an apparent effort to draw litigation from the estate of Margaret Mitchell, calling attention to Gone with the Wind‘s racism in the process. On the other side are the sorts who mistake ever recalling any racism in history, even for the purposes of seeing that said racism is known of and acknowledged, as itself a horribly racist thing to do, because who the hell ever learned from history?

I find Gone with the Wind tepid. It’s boring, it’s racist in the special kind of way that only a 1930s love note to the institution of slavery that still wanted to sell tickets to well-to-do bourgeois in the North could have been, and it centers around film history’s coldest, most-inaccessible, most-put-out-about-not-being-an-ingenue villain, Scarlett O’Hara. While this reading may not be common, what is less common is the identification of the book and movie as being short only one Shirley Temple and one Bill Robinson of being “period pieces” of the “super-duper racist” period. Place’s Twitter account is plainly a series of excerpts deliberately paired with provocative and racist imagery to communicate that Gone with the Wind is racist. But unlike Birth of a Nation, the cinematic and technological achievements of its film adaptation were never ultimately looked at in the pall of the racist shadow cast by the film’s content. This in no small part due to Hollywood resting their heads comfortably up their own asses for the better part of a century, satisfied to coast by as “progressive” for having once given an Oscar to a black chick who played–if you’ve never seen Gone with the Wind, I shit you not–a slave called “Mammy.” And then they took 24 years to give an acting award to another black person. And after that, they took 19 more fucking years to do it again!

“Did you hear it? He talked about how people in Hollywood are ahead of the curve on social matters. He even took credit for the civil rights movement!”

As the internet finishes its assimilation of the first world and increasingly spreads through to the second and third worlds, Twitter may become not only the first world’s id, but humanity’s id. If Twitter as a social medium did serve some function during the Arab Spring, then the resultant political environments should only reinforce this notion of the role of Twitter as humanity’s id: your id can win a war for you, but it can not rule your country for you.

This brings us back around to Vanessa Place: Is she just a distraction? She’s not a distraction, mind you, but her role as a marginal artist doing an ongoing art project that’s marginally clever makes the controversy surrounding it ripe for amplification.

Did anything, for example, really change when Google began indexing blogs along with the “news?” Rather than being directed to specific articles at the sites of newspapers and cable news outlets, you are directed through an endless stream of backdoors to approved thoughts and information disseminated by those same major news outlets. I feel like I never fucking leave the Washington Post’s stupid blog section, and I don’t even go there without being linked first. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, every mass media outlet that was initially poised to look like so much discarded lettuce on the meat patty of the Internet has morphed into much of the patty’s bone meal substance and the nutrition-less bun containing it.

The layman who hoped to one day elevate to the sort that could gripe for money about their pet peeves by first elevating themselves into “bloggers” have become the minor leagues from which the mass media calls up its newest recruits to be drafted into the ranks of bloggers the mainstream outlets have begun to employ, working from home with no editors, no oversight except toward the avoidance of ruffled feathers, and no apparent spell-check software. Whereas the “blogosphere” was supposed to be the dream of an independent and democratic platform for expression and thought, it has become the night club from which the major label poaches the rock band willing to sell out in order to help marginalize the ones not willing to sell out, and they do so now at an ever-increasing clip so as to drown out any chorus of opposition otherwise.

Where the mainstream media spins the stories of government, these bloggers in their employ spin for them the stories of society, telling you how you should be thinking about how someone else acted, or how someone else thought, but most importantly, never telling you how you could act, never telling you what you might be able to do to take the power into your own hands. Where they talk about or live-tweet protests, even ones they cover in person, they throw up the old walls of casting those concerned as the societal “other” within whatever context the “other” is represented, to ensure you do not feel solidarity with anyone working toward having a potential effect on their surrounding environment. By seizing control of the blogosphere (gesundheit!), not through brute force but through establishment of the idea of legitimate blogs as opposed to independent blogs, they can direct the social conversation in addition to the civic conversation, choosing writers who they find inoffensive or whose views tow some narrative they benefit from popularizing to whatever degree they intend to.

It is in this way that Twitter is the id of the internet, but cannot, at least in the present world in which information and social attitudes filter from the mainstream media-down, aspire to be an outlet for the superego. On Twitter, the desires of the super-ego are argued endlessly via the id, necessitated by the false scarcity of space in which to deliver a thought that will largely be seen isolated from like ones and without context. Ultimately, this is what the whole Vanessa Place argument is about: suppression of the ego, her artistic criticism of Gone with the Wind and its lauded role in our society, by the superego, demanding that challenges to the offensive not offend by showing you what the offensive is, via the medium of the id, the knee-jerk reactions and intellectual shock and awe. The id is struggling to take control of the ego and superego, and as in life, it is failing.

It is a false debate at hand. It is a conversation doomed to go nowhere, purveyed by bloggers trawling Twitter for non-information to distract from foreign bombings of hospitals and domestic police murders of blacks, of the inherent criminality of the current structure of the financial system and the mass spying into all of our personal lives. They profit as entities from information control, not from information dissemination. The conversation over Vanessa Place’s Twitter account is but one of thousands cherry-picked by bloggers themselves cherry-picked for their easy offense, an army of writers meant to shape the modern discourse, not serve it. And it is exactly what Time Warner, and News Corporation, and Comcast, and Jeff Bezos, and Tribune Publishing, and all the other mass media companies with everything to lose from truly democratic dissemination of information, want.