That Feeling When by Nikhil Taneja: The fall and fall of Elon Musk’s Twitter

Published on Nov 19, 2022 02:40 AM IST

The possibility that this could be the beginning of the end of social media doesn’t seem all that horrible

Twitter faces an uncertain future after its shaky new start and mass lay-offs (Hexcode)
Twitter faces an uncertain future after its shaky new start and mass lay-offs (Hexcode)
ByNikhil Taneja

If you haven’t been living under a rock (or if, perhaps, you are a literal bird), you probably have seen the horror comedy that’s unfolding on and around Twitter after billionaire memelord Elon Musk bought it over. We may be watching, in real time, one of the most influential companies in the world being razed to the ground by a man who spent $44 billion to buy it, and is now determined to turn its value into zero. It’s been a raging, relentless, rivetting dumpster fire, and that is the politest way of putting it.

Billionaire reality show

It would’ve all been so funny if it wasn’t all so tragic. We’re watching the sloppiest reality show unfold in front of us, and we’re seeing, in all likelihood, the inevitable fall from medium-grace, of one of the most mocked, and talked about, uber rich people on the planet. There’s also the fact that Twitter, in the last few years, has become a smorgasbord of hate, misogyny and polarisation, and maybe we would all be better for it, if there were one less social media platform that demands our constant attention, only to serve us a steaming pile of poop.

But it’s hard to ignore (and to be honest, it’s fairly depressing) the fact, that we’re also seeing the very worst excesses of billionaires with free flowing cash, but virtually no accountability. In a way, Musk’s takeover of Twitter mirrors very closely Trump’s takeover of America. Both flamboyant public figures with a devil-may-care attitude, who, while coming up in the world, never stopped screaming and shouting from the time they were born, and who are, by now, so thoroughly addicted to the spotlight, that they’ll do whatever it takes to remain firmly in it, even if that means the destruction of the very thing that has kept them relevant, and of course, (in)famous.

Down like the Titanic

What really gets my goat is the staggering impunity with which this has been happening. It’s like Twitter has been taken hostage and is being sold for parts in a losers-take-all flash sale, and the rest of us have no option but to watch in abject horror. But spare a thought for the nearly 3,700 people laid off from Twitter’s workforce, in the most cruel, vicious and vile of ways, who’ve been treated for their work with incredible disdain, and who’ve been rewarded for their professionalism with an utter lack of dignity. If it wasn’t bad enough to watch a company you may have worked for, for several years, to implode, you now have to deal with the mental health toll of being laid off in the most brutal and public of ways.

If the platform was to go down like the Titanic (because the iceberg sought it out), let me be the first to say that at its best, it was an invaluable resource of breaking news, an irreplaceable library of expert knowledge, and an incomparable way of building a community, even if, at its worst, it was the epicentre of toxicity on the internet. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it once it’s gone, but for now, with what it’s all turned into—and turned us into—the possibility that this could be the beginning of the end of social media, doesn’t seem all that horrible.

Perhaps, once we are all free of this blue bird, we could go out and look at the blue sky, for a change.

Nikhil Taneja is a writer, producer, storyteller, public speaker, feeler of feelings, men’s mental health advocate and co-founder of Yuvaa

That Feeling When is a fortnightly column that offers a relatable take on mental health and emotional well-being.

From HT Brunch, November 19, 2022

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