To mangle T.S. Eliot, this is the way the world ends, folks - not with the bang of nuclear World War III, but with the whimper of a tweet. Elon Musk, the world's richest billionaire whose very name exudes rank ferality, just bought Twitter and is taking it private.
The corporate media monolith and of course the Twitterverse itself are in a veritable frenzy of belching out What This All Means. If you look on the bright side of things, Musk promises that the algorithm, which now favors some users over others, will become open-source. The methods of our manipulation will be visible to one and all. The Musk oil salesman will teach us to embrace the new freedom of our servitude. Dissidents will no longer be banned or censored.... unless, of course, they reside in either the Ten Percent Far Right or the Ten Percent Far Left, which shall be defined by Elon Musk himself so as to conduct censorship in the most libertarian and transparent way possible.
And if, as diehard users fear, Twitter devolves from its current high-minded civility into such a free-for-all Babel that nobody can even hear himself Tweet, shouldn't we view it as a respite rather than a tragedy? This is especially true if it is deemed unusable and/or untouchable by the ruling class influencers and scolders who currently manufacture and control the "discourse" and the "narrative." Or, Elon Musk could suddenly become bored and shut the whole enterprise down on a whim, but in such an ironclad patented legal way that nobody else can ever revive it in any form whatsoever.
Alternatively, if the ruling class twitterati find themselves simply unable to quit Twitter, they at least might finally be spurred to follow through on their heretofore flimsy threats to hold it, and all the remaining social media giants, legally accountable for the material they allow to be published on their platforms. The elites might even become so desperate that they seize the companies altogether and place them in the public domain, just like our other for-profit public utllities, such as life-sustaining water.
Elon Musk may own the world, but as a person born outside of these United States of non-Usian parents, he at least can never buy the actual presidency - notwithstanding the fact that he and his oligarchic cohort effectively own the government - otherwise known as privatized profit at socialized cost.
As you may have gathered by now, I don't care one whit about Twitter and its future. I did mindlessly sign up for it when it first appeared, but I abysmally failed at tweeting out even one single tweet.
If Twitter disappears, as I sincerely hope that it does, journalists will actually have to write articles whose paragraphs are separated by plain indentations instead of those ubiquitous, supposedly pithy Tweets or at minimum, numerous links to Tweets themselves. Following these links only requires me to register in order to read them. And life is way too short as it is, especially with Hitler Putin threatening to nuke us or at least mess with our power grid, at which time the existential angst of whether to tweet or not to tweet while obsessing over followers and ratios will be rendered absolutely moot.
In other news, Big Oil is paradoxically balking at Joe Biden's kind offer to drill baby drill the whole world into extinction. The reason? The oil companies are afraid they won't be able to keep fuel prices high and their profits higher if they extract too much. Or as the New York Times explains it,
The biggest reason oil production isn’t increasing is that U.S. energy companies and Wall Street investors are not sure that oil prices will stay high long enough for them to make a profit from drilling lots of new wells. Many remember how abruptly and sharply oil prices crashed two years ago, forcing companies to lay off thousands of employees, shut down wells and even seek bankruptcy protection.
Who knew that greed had its upside as far as the environment is concerned? Perhaps our lawmakers can stop subsidizing these companies and the courts can stop offering them bankruptcy protection even as they pocket their windfall profits from price-gouging during times of war and plague.
One more bit of good-bad news before I go. PepsiCo, which owns the Frito-Lay division of junk food as well as its diabetes-causing sugary sodas, reports that its own profits have risen only modestly, those rises being due solely to the obscene price increases it has recently plopped on its products. In other words, if they hadn't raised the price of Cheetos and Lays potato chips so drastically, then they would be in the hole. Or, to put in Timesplaining-speak:
Like other food and beverage companies, PepsiCo is walking a fine line, determining how much it can raise prices on its key products before consumers balk and either buy less or seek out cheaper substitutes. Still, acknowledging that consumers are facing higher prices in all aspects of their lives, executives said they would be watching behaviors closely as they weigh further price increases for the year.
So that makes me wonder whether the real reason that Netflix is losing so many subscribers is that the high cost of noshing while watching has forced people to make the hard choice to just give up the watching, which is much less addictive than sugar and salt. And pretty soon they won't be able to afford the noshing either. Cheetos already are threatening to become a delicacy affordable only by the board members of Exxon-Mobil, Twitter, Netflix and PepsiCo itself.
And with the prospect of losing access to Twitter for lack of the bitcoin price that Elon Musk is said to intend charging for the service, without the gas to drive their cars to the grocery store to buy the Cheetos, without the cash to pay to watch Netflix cake-baking shows, without, perhaps, even the electricity to plug our devices in to achieve blissful forgetfulness this overreach by the voracious class of capitalist greedsters might be just the thing that we need to survive as a species... if, of course, they don't kill us, their hosts, first with their own addiction to endless war.
|"Hey You, Get Under My Bus" - photo by Kat Garcia|