Yes, I’m flipping off the bird millions once heralded as a Phoenix of the digital age. Ever since Elon Musk’s ostensible rescue attempt of the once-venerable social media platform known as Twitter, or Twatter as I often refer to it, it has appeared as if the feathered god of 280-character messages could soon burn to ashes.
Twitter is currently operating with a skeleton crew after more mass resignations following the first round of firings. While I don’t revel in anyone losing their job, as I experienced as recently as two years ago, I also find it difficult to shed a tear for the latest slew of resignations. Many (but not all) of the now-unemployed “twits” earned lofty salaries and received generous severance packages I could only dream of receiving when I needed it. And let’s not forget the “golden parachutes” high-level executives bounced with in the forms of multi-million dollar payouts.
Following the last exits, the only employees I found the most sympathy for were the talented IT folks who were employed through H1B visas and are now at risk of being forced to fly the coup.
Before Musk took over Twitter, there were rumors he intended to lay off 75% of the staff. Some expressed doubt, but many believed it, including yours truly, despite the self-proclaimed “Chief Twit” responding to the rumors by saying he didn’t intend to let go of the majority of staff. Yet, here we are, about a month into his full takeover, and most of the staff is gone. Mainstream media have a strong track record of vetting insider sources, so I found it hard to believe there wasn’t any truth to the rumors of Twitter embarking on a dangerous crash diet. Whether employees were fired or left little choice but to resign after receiving a ridiculous ultimatum, Twitter is practically on life support now.
It’s not something to take lightly, and some of the more responsible news outlets have taken wise steps.
CBS News announced last week that it was suspending its account in light of the mass downsizing at Twitter. This is likely to save themselves from the free-for-all of racism, bots, security risks, and so on. Celebrities have followed suit, and in some cases dumped Twitter altogether. More will likely follow over time, and hopefully journalists will as well.
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I’d be surprised if Musk isn’t enjoying the chaos — and fueling it. He reinstated Trump over the weekend and a few more of the hate and disinformation mongers who the media can’t help but latch onto everyday.
If you didn’t see this bird coming a mile away, you need binoculars. And perhaps that makes sense, but I can honestly say I’m sick of the bird watching.
While everyone, particularly the media, is abuzz about the fate of the once-beloved, virtual “town square,” its demise would be a funeral I wouldn’t mind attending. Yes, Twitter has proven its utility, but it’s been a long time since constructive conversation was a draw. It is now a smorgasbord of memes, juvenile antics, and users one-upping each other with immature insults. Even the largest news organizations have a tough time garnering engagement with anything substantive, yet lowbrow content soars. Sadly, if I were to judge upon Twitter’s audience, people in mass don’t care about the world’s issues or the power that Twitter once had in invoking thoughtful ideas on how to solve them — one brief message at a time.
And quite frankly, Twitter hasn’t been doing well for awhile, so I didn’t find it difficult to believe its profitability issues were substantial prior to Musk. Now, disinformation is rampant and the platform is bleeding advertisers.
I can’t help but wonder if Musk always intended to kill the bird — or at least pretend to in dramatic fashion — he loves staying in the media cycle. God forbid two days pass and he isn’t making frontpage headlines. Holding Twitter hostage with a knife at the neck is perhaps what we should have expected from the egomaniac. After all, Elon never wants his favorite topic to change — Elon. And maybe the media doesn’t either judging by its obsession with Musk; you would think the planet revolves around his Twitter shenanigans.
I’m in the small camp of critics that is under the impression the seemingly impending doom of Twitter may have been premeditated. Why is anyone’s guess at this point but I never saw Musk as a fool.
Be that as it may, it’s time to move on. There’s no time — or need — to grieve.
Twitter may rise from the ashes again. I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar on it, but I can see Twitter surviving. However, it’s tough to make a good sequel these days. And I’m okay with skipping the next version, which will probably look nothing like the iteration people were so fond of… if the platform doesn’t disintegrate.
People have been relentlessly asking where the glorious firebird is headed. Without wings, I’d say nowhere. But if the chatter over Twitter’s future lives on, I for one, will be grateful when the general public starts asking “why should we care?”
Corey A. Washington is Editor and Publisher of BLK News Now! His journalism experience includes Television, Print, and Digital Media as a Writer, Content Producer and Digital Producer. Some of those media outlets include CBS Phoenix (KPHO), NBC4 LA, ABC7 LA, California Black Media, SCNG, and more. He is passionate about the Black Press and advocates for the advancement of Black America by highlighting racial disparities in the U.S. and abroad, as well as great achievements in the Black community. He can be reached at Corey@BLKNewsNow.com.