The Death of Twitter and Why I’m No Longer There
The sad demise of 15 years on the birdsite.
Back in the dark ages of 2009 I joined the new-ish social media site called Twitter. “Ha!” I scoffed. “Microblogging is such a stupid concept. It’ll never take over actual blogging. And tweet is such a stupid word, no one will ever use that.”
Well, I was wrong. I quickly came to find that Twitter was a great site with genuinely powerful engagement and a real sense of community. It quickly became the go-to site, particularly for writers and readers. Through simple and enjoyable engagement with other users I slowly built a significant following there. It became a true engine for awareness of my work and drove book sales. For a non-famous writer like me, that kind of reach makes a massive difference. Plus, there was the simple fun of sharing time with other tweeps. I made real friends on Twitter, people I’ve come to see as close and important to my life. Some of them I’ve never met in real life yet, but still hold them dear.
I’ve always maintained a website, as I still think the most important thing for any creative professional is to have your own online base where people can find you and your work, that’s not subject to vagaries of rich man-children. But beyond that, even though I have accounts on Facebook and Instagram and other places, Twitter was always the main focus of my attention. When people asked what the most important social media for writers was, or for me personally, I would always, without hesitation, name Twitter.
Beyond the benefit promotionally for me and the friendships I made there, it became my go to source of cross-referencing news. It became the default emergency channel whenever any major global event was going down. So many people there were just fucking funny. It was instrumental and of enormous benefit in so many ways, in so many people’s lives.
Elon fucking Musk, the right wing, parasitic shitstain emerald heir came along and fucked it all up. Musk is a person who thinks he’s way smarter than he is. Allegedly, he buys his way into things and claims to be the brains behind them while the real brains behind those things quickly set up departments to manage him and keep him away from the real running of the place. Space-X, Tesla, they all managed Musk and let him crow about his smarts while they got on with the job.
But when the utter fuckwit bought Twitter, there was no one to rein him in and his absolutely braindead ideas have crashed that site more quickly than anyone thought possible. He gave back access to people who had been banned for literal fascism and Nazism. He destroyed the verification process that made the site so valuable in so many ways. He turned a powerful engine of social good into a cesspit of fuckwits and fascists and laughed about it all the way.
Sure, Twitter had its problems before he took over. There were ongoing issues that people continuously tried to address. Everywhere in life has problems, but the good on Twitter far outweighed the bad. Musk reversed that in less than a year. (He initiated the acquisition on April 14, 2022, panicked and tried to back out soon after, but couldn’t and the acquisition concluded on October 27, 2022. We’re only in September 2023 now and the place is a bin fire.)
But that’s not why I’m no longer there.
Despite all the above, people like me stuck it out. We’d been there a long time. I wasn’t about to give ground to fascists, although it did become harder and harder to justify staying somewhere that enabled the literal worst of society. I struggled with the ethics of it but always hoped it might somehow rise from the ashes. I hoped Musk would throw in the towel, find a way to take his losses and fuck off, and perhaps the Twitter of old might rise again. I’d spent nearly 15 years building a following of over 17,000 people there. It was my home. Fuck this guy for coming in and shitting all over it.
And then I said a bad thing about another rich dude.
I mean, it’s not like I haven’t said stuff just like it a hundred times over the years, but apparently this time I broke the camel’s back. Multi-millionaire Tim Gurner went on record, on video, saying that employees had become too arrogant and he wanted to see unemployment rise by 30 to 40% to put pain into the economy and remind workers of their place. I mean, what an utter cunt. This guy who’s made millions off the backs of poorly paid workers. So I quote tweeted that video and said, “This fucking scumbag. We really need the guillotines.”
And I stand by that. As Van Badham says in her excellent piece on this in The Guardian, “workers in Australia have never been more productive while capitalists have never swallowed up so much of that gain for themselves, taking more in profit than they give back in wages”. You can read the whole thing here, and that will also give you the video in question: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/sep/14/tim-gurner-ceo-comments-more-unemployment-millionaire-property-developer-workers-neoliberals
Record-breaking profits should mean record-breaking wages for everyone from the ground up, not just these parasitic fucks sitting on top, suggesting the people they need for those profits are somehow arrogant. We have never needed the threat of revolution more. Something has to change. Capitalism is killing everything, from the worker to the planet itself, and people like Gurner and Musk are sitting on piles of cash like dragons sitting on hoards of gold, and they’re fucking laughing at us.
So I stand by it. Except someone reported that tweet and Musk and his minions subsequently suspended my Twitter account indefinitely. Someone suggested Musk has set bots to crawl Twitter looking for any tweets with the word “guillotine” and they’re suspending those accounts en masse. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s the sort of fragile knee-jerk response we’ve come to expect. From the guy who bought Twitter because he wanted a return of free speech. Sorry, just rolled my eyes so hard I saw my heels. When Musk claims he’s returning free speech to the people he means all the hateful shit people like him say while shutting down any dissenting voice. Speech is only free for the arseholes.
I appealed the decision and was told (within an hour so almost certainly by a bot), “Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision. Your account has been suspended and will not be restored due to violations of the X [because they call Twitter X now, but I never will] Rules, specifically our rules around: Violating our rules against violent speech.”
People need to unionise. People need to support strikes like the current WGA/SAG-AFTRA strike. It’s awesome to see the auto industry in the US finally saying enough is enough and striking too. It feels like a general strike is on the way. We need to empower workers again because people like Musk and Gurner will just use us up as grist in their money-making mills. They’re not even pretending any more, like Gurner saying publicly and clearly that he needs to actually hurt people to smash them back into line. To teach them their place. Fuck. That. Guy.
The cost of living crisis isn’t due to rising prices. It’s due to rising profits. That’s got to change.
Meanwhile, perhaps the Twitter team did me a favour, as now I don’t have to agonise any more about the ethics of staying there. They made the decision for me. Fuck ‘em. I hope they drown in their own cesspool.
I’m furious with Musk for destroying something as good and powerful as Twitter used to be. Who knows what the next thing might be, but there’s no replacement. There won’t be another Twitter any more than there was another MySpace. It’ll be something different. At this point in time, it seems most people are moving over to bluesky, and you can find me there - https://bsky.app/profile/alanbaxter.bsky.social
And I’ll always have my website at www.alanbaxter.com.au
Meanwhile, let’s hope the unions and strikes start to take some power back, into the hands of the workers, because if they don’t it can’t long until guillotines really do become a reality.
Anyway, in the meantime, my new novella launched through Absinthe Books, an imprint of PS Publishing, this weekend and I’d love it if you checked it out. And if you’re still on Twitter, I’d appreciate you letting people know that I got bounced and maybe still spread the word over there about my books? And perhaps this newsletter too.
Huge thanks, fiends, and I’ll see you… around!