Musk hangs from fraying Twitter tightrope

Twitter has attracted controversy since Musk's takeover. Photo by Adam Fleischer.

The opinions expressed in The Lawrentian are those of the students, faculty and community members who wrote them. The Lawrentian does not endorse any opinions piece except for the staff editorial, which represents a majority of the editorial board. The Lawrentian welcomes everyone to submit their own opinions. For the full editorial policy and parameters for submitting articles, please refer to the about section.

I must start with an apology to the readers for my cautious optimism over Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. In the months between my last assessment and now, every possible low I could imagine was surpassed; and yet, one could argue this is a good thing. Musk has taken a seemingly anarchist and whimsical approach to everything about Twitter. After his purge of various Twitter management, Musk began a new campaign of making Twitter far more “free”. He did so by banning various journalists who criticized him, firing the janitors then recommending employees bring their own toilet paper and not regulating who would buy a blue check, the sign of a verified user. The latter has led to several darkly hilarious incidents of random users impersonating major persons and companies and then saying compromising statements. For instance, a Nestle account tweeted “We steal your water and sell it back to you lol.” To those who have despised the platform for years, the Musk-Twitter management saga has become a new source of comedy as the platform has begun to implode. Musk’s various announcements have generated controversy on the platform and for investors, but raucous laughter online. Some of these announcements have included Twitter being bankrupt or needing to sell off its assets, and Musk even held a poll on whether he should stay or whether he should resign, where 57.5% of participants voted for him to step down. Musk replied to the poll by saying he will step down once he finds someone “foolish enough” to take over.

Despite the perceptions that this is terrifying chaos, some view it as a necessary check or blow to a company that has had an infamous reputation as an echo chamber to various extremist groups, from pop culture to politics. Though not cited in major publications, general moods on internet platforms tend to view the continual chaos on Twitter as both a popcorn show and net good for humanity, though the latter part given its volatile chief is questionable. Despite Musk’s flirtations with the idea of letting controversial right-wing persons such as Donald Trump return to Twitter, many pundits have rejected him for being too much of a “joker.” Said pundits see him as a man who flips sides depending on how much he can get out for himself (or for the laughs), as observed when Trump rejected Musk’s invitation to return.

Was this all intentional sabotage? Possibly, but if so, he has done a terrible job of facilitating that among staff as he has repeatedly purged staff who he suspected would destroy the platform. If his intent was internal sabotage, wouldn’t he keep those he suspects of destroying the platform to maximize coverage of destruction? Some say this is simply an extension of Musk’s hubris and a repeat of the triumphs and failures of Tesla, where he meshed brilliance and incompetence; the Tesla Model 3 car was said to have brilliant electrical design but was lambasted for shoddy frame construction. SpaceX, another company owned by Musk, was repeatedly stalled by rockets exploding upon landing or takeoff (SpaceX itself created several self-laugh videos featuring their rockets exploding in spectacular fashion). The saga of Tesla and SpaceX under Musk’s direction seem to be repeating for Twitter, albeit with less success and more laughs.

To quote author Edgar Allen Poe, “To die laughing must be the most glorious of all glorious deaths!”