Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
No, Elon Musk Did Not "Ruin" Twitter

No, Elon Musk Did Not "Ruin" Twitter

Politics Did.

beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
- Charles Bukowski

An old friend texted me recently to ask how I was handling the “new Twitter.” I had to think for a minute, and then I realized that in the language of the Left, he meant that Elon Musk had bought the site, and now it’s overrun by hate speech and neo-Nazis. Do I still feel safe using it?

“Oh,” I texted back. “I’m not in the bubble of the Left anymore, so it doesn’t bother me. I like it. I am a fan of free speech.”

There was a long pause, something I’ve become accustomed to when conversing with someone on the Left. They don’t want to argue. They don’t want to go any further. They just want to slowly back away.

The idea that Twitter was now overrun by “hate speech” was just an accepted reality because that is how much power the blue-checks on Twitter have to influence the mainstream media narrative, which trickles down everywhere.

But when a viral video circulated with a BBC reporter who could not name even one example of hate speech, that didn’t make news in the mainstream because it contradicted the narrative.

The story will make the rounds on the Right, but the mainstream narrative has more power, and if a story contradicts the government’s official narrative, it will never make the news. That’s still true with Musk as the new owner, but it’s a step up from the government using Twitter as a filter to silence dissent.

That Twitter users had enough power and status to decide reality is what made Twitter dangerous. This has been true since the beginning, as it slowly became the most powerful propaganda tool the Democrats had.

Once Musk took over Twitter and decided the blue checks were granting status to people deemed “special” but not to others, he set about messing with their own self-importance by taking away their privilege of the verification badge, giving users who pay a monthly fee the opportunity to have a blue check instead.

What is brilliant about this, and maybe most people don’t get it, is that Musk understood the collective power of the blue-check army and now he’s punctured it, dismantled it, like stealing all of their horses in the middle of the night, leaving them nowhere to go to fight the next battle.

But they aren’t used to anyone challenging their power. Musk has been feeling the impact of their collective wrath ever since. HOW DARE YOU!

“I’m not paying for that,” they proclaimed. But oh, how delicious it will be to see some of these once-mighty prominent legacy blue-checks naked without that little verification symbol.

Supposedly that’s somehow ruined Twitter. What it’s done is democratize it. It might be more chaotic now, maybe even slightly more unpredictable, but that makes it more thrilling, not less.

What “ruined” Twitter was the #resistance, transforming the platform into one massive propaganda outlet for The Democrats in an imaginary battle with Donald Trump that began in 2017, when the company tweaked its algorithm to push more engaged tweets to the top of everyone’s feed.

Even if they have the choice to see “latest Tweets,” most prefer to see what tweets are driving the narratives in a given day so they can ride the wave of outrage, whatever is trending, whatever person is “it,” who can be dunked on, humiliated or bullied into an apology or chased off the platform entirely.

The bullying on Twitter had become a problem, not just for users, but corporations and institutions that were suddenly worried about being hurled into the public arena for shaming. That is Twitter’s curse and power, which is why Musk never needed to sweat competition like Substack Notes.

As someone who has been swarmed and bullied more times than I can count, I already feel a little more free using Twitter now. They’re right that it has changed. But Musk didn’t ruin it. He rescued it.

Elon’s Stumble

Elon Musk has made, by my calculations, only one major mistake since he took over Twitter, and that was assuming journalist Matt Taibbi owed him something after the two broke the all-important Twitter Files story. He thought Taibbi should move his Substack over to Twitter to help Twitter profit.

But this vindicated the hysterical rantings by people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mehdi Hasan. They accused Taibbi and others of being bought and paid for by “the Richest Man in the World.” Now they had proof that was the intention all along.

Taibbi, however, was never working for Musk, and if he has any loyalty, it’s to Substack, where he’s built his substantial following of readers like me who rely on him to tell us the truth. It’s also his main source of income. Musk isn’t paying him.

It wasn’t so much what he did to Taibbi that was the mistake. It was more about giving up a powerful Chess piece he had with the alliance of journalists investigating the Twitter files. Despite how the legacy media has been trying to downplay it, it is the story of the year, maybe of the decade. This was not a fight worthy of Musk and the power he now holds with Twitter.

And frankly, Taibbi didn’t deserve it. He put his reputation on the line, and was interrogated by Democrats in Congress who treated him like a traitor to his own country. He had to sit there as Mehdi Hasan performed some odd “gotcha” theater just so he could send out Tweets, anticipating the pats on the heads from the smug and self-righteous brigade. GET HIM, they collectively hissed. How dare he try to embarrass the Security State! To hold the powerful to account! How dare he do journalism!

Taibbi and Musk were on the same side, and fracturing that relationship, and devaluing the Twitter files, is too big of a win for the blue-checks.

Substack Notes was never going to be a threat to Twitter. No other social media site has the power to humiliate influential, high-status people. It is the designated arena for public shaming, and it’s the only one. Unfortunately for the left, they don’t realize they were largely responsible for making Twitter that powerful. And now it’s backfiring on them.

Musk should have Taibbi back to work on the Twitter Files to keep up the pressure and drive heat from Substack back to Twitter to form a powerful resistance against the dominant groupthink.

Musk is under enormous pressure now, with the legacy media attacking him daily, not to mention our government seeking his destruction. To the Biden administration, he barely exists except as a threat, not with his SpaceX program or Tesla. That does illustrate perfectly what the modern Democrats value, and it’s not success or hard work or innovation.

Regardless, Musk’s power in working with Taibbi and others on the Twitter files, whether they continued or not, was making them sweat. Otherwise, there would not have been such a massive effort to pretend they were meaningless.

What a sad state of affairs when people like David Frum, your classic blue-check, marinate in their own smug satisfaction. Their fame, such as it is, being a big fish in a tiny pond, hopelessly addicted to the hearts and the RTs. Imagine being a guy who did matter once, now having to turn to a flattering reflecting pool to feel a tiny flicker of importance.

Their job was supposed to be to chase the story as Taibbi did. Instead, their jobs became chasing the reporters.

Elon’s Warning

2016 was the first time Mark Zuckerberg put his powerful new toy, Facebook, to the test, and it helped Trump win. But by 2020, Zuckerberg, probably because he wanted to absolve himself of the guilt of 2016, “helped” the Democrats with not just a $400 million cash infusion but also that same technology to “find” the right voters not to suppress their vote but to collect their ballots.

If Zuckerberg has data on almost 300 million Americans, imagine how easy it would be to find those exact voters to pull in wins in key swing states where the “enthusiasm gap” would have led to a second term for Trump. While no one can ever prove this is what they did, Mollie Hemingway’s book on the 2020 election details just how deep Zuckerberg’s involvement went.

Now, factor in the power of AI. Democrats are ready to use influencers already whoring themselves out to big brands to convince a generation raised on brands to imprint on the Democratic Party. It won’t be that hard to use AI to ensure the right news gets to the right people, and the bad news stays out. They don’t even need the blue-check army anymore with AIs shaping the media narrative.

The Democrats seem to only want power now. They’ve sacrificed everything they used to value, from objecting to dark money and Citizens United, to aligning themselves with the Deep State, defending the FBI and the CIA. They’re certainly not the Democratic Party I grew up supporting.

The War of the Words

So much of the reaction to Trump had to do with what the Left had become before 2016. If political correctness was already a problem in the 90s, by 2015 it had become almost a crisis in America. Everyone noticed it.

From 2015:

Even before that, back in 2011, this video talked about the rise of political correctness, tying it to the Frankfurt School and its influence on colleges with Critical Theory. Watching this video is shocking because it could have been made today. What was confined to college campuses has now become our entire country at the hands of the Democrats and their powerful alliance with cultural and corporate America.

The Left colonized the internet first, and especially the social media empires. Twitter was co-opted by Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2008 as a revolutionary way to mobilize young people. From then on, the Democrats, or left-leaning, college-educated eggheads, dominated Twitter.

Trump was the first major threat to that power as Trump used Twitter in a way no other Republican or even any politician had. He used it to go over the heads of the media and get his message to the people directly. The more he tweeted, the bigger his follower count grew.

Trump was the existential crisis to the Left not because of anything he did but because of what he said. That he was overtly offensive at a time of extreme word policing was his superpower, and the thing about him that sent much of the Left cascading into waves of hysteria for the four years he was in power.

But that was always what Trump represented. He was the guy who shocked people with what he said because it was brutally honest. That was true in the 80s and true on his show. Anyone who was a fan of The Apprentice often took what Trump said with a grain of salt. But the eggheads on Twitter, the intellectuals, weren’t watching The Apprentice so they took what he said literally.

Here is a clip from The Apprentice and 1980s Trump.

So much of the battle for Twitter is simply about words. Words control ideology, which ultimately controls the people. Musk’s objection to how Twitter was being managed was that they had the power to decide what words were allowed, what jokes were allowed, and what news stories were allowed, and that, he rightly believed, was not only destroying Twitter but it was destroying our country too and everything we value.

I’ve heard people say that Elon Musk cares what people think of him, as though they’ve cast him as a supervillain with no feelings or compassion. Why wouldn’t he care? Not many people can take that level of incoming and wipe the slate clean the next day.

But we need him. We need more people like him to thrust a bold middle finger at the information monopoly the Left controls. We need more people with courage to carve a path out of this crippling sea of misery we’ve created. We need role models who are resilient and who send the message to the young that words are just words. We can survive them.

Musk is still a superhero for the modern age, smart enough to notice what threatens our civilization, brave enough to speak up about it, and rich enough to buy Twitter for 44 billion.

The tweets by the blue-checks that they seem to think matter are just cyber dust - a layer of data to trap them in time as people who were caught up in their own unearned importance before the whole thing came collapsing down, before Twitter and this country were wrestled free from their grasp.

Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.