By Liam Steele
Twitter, X, Y, Z, whatever the fuck they’re calling it now, has been at the forefront of free speech (i.e., giving literally every numpty with internet access a platform) for years. With its recent change-in-hands to everyone’s favorite manchild billionaire, Musk of Eel, the platform has expanded this free speech base and allowed everyone—even public figures not particularly favored by popular media for whatever reason (i.e., orange businessman, Chicago rap man)—to use the platform.
Free speech is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s what allows me to rant to you in print form for the next few hundred words. But sometimes free speech is abused by people who, quite frankly, shouldn’t be allowed to yap as much as they currently do.
Elon’s takeover began with the expulsion of much of the platform’s moderation staff, allowing every manner of unsavory post to appear on your homepage. This has led advertisers to pull out of the platform in droves. You see, Musk’s change of the platform’s name, despite appearances, may have been a stroke of genius.
It may seem to us that changing the entire identity of one of the most well-known websites on earth to simply “X” was a bad move, but in reality, the rebrand may have been the best way for Twitter (see title) to become the terrible hellhole it is today. By making an immediately noticeable change to the website after its acquisition, Elon created something to rally his insufferable army of NFT-obsessed, soylent-sipping dickriders behind. In almost every post of his, the comments are flooded with “X is the future!!!” and “Long live X!!!”, the cries of a glazing committee now even more enamored with the billionaire’s every unfunny childish whim and vapid meme than ever before. With a cause to rally behind, the creatures feel like they own the platform, and as such, are free to say whatever the hell they want.
Further facilitating this yapping—as well as financially making up for the loss of advertisers on the platform—is the new Twitter verification system, dubbed “Twitter Blue.” This system makes it such that anyone who feels uppity enough can pay 8 dollars a month to have their tweets pushed onto the masses with priority over other tweets, as well as allowing users to earn money from tweet engagement, which sometimes incentivizes misinformation, omission of context, and inflammatory posts. This is a far cry from the once highly sought-after status of being “verified on Twitter,” which was reserved for actual notable public figures, not just any basement-dwelling dingus with nothing better to do in life than pay 8 dollars a month to jaw off to the online world.
To get real for a bit, I wrote this article because I noticed so many accounts that rose out of seemingly nowhere which exist for no other reason than to spread hatred for every possible group you can think of, not to mention a great influx of absurd opinions from every square inch of the political compass. These accounts seem to be everywhere you look on Twitter, with one for just about every -ism and -phobia you can conjure in your mind.
Pictured: the usual suspects
Tweets, and subsequent comments, from an account named ‘iamyesyouareno’ are some of the strongest examples of posts intending only to divide. From condescendingly asking “What could possibly go wrong?” in reference to the election of Somali-American politician Nadia Mohamed as Mayor of a town in Minnesota, to saying “That’s why they have to fight in packs.” in reference to a video of a brutally one sided fight between a black and a white teen, this account strives for hate and division every day. Clearly it works, as the comments on these inflammatory posts include unironic statements of “the west has fallen,” cries that “they are out to replace whites,” and so on and so forth. Throughout many of these posts, comments also contain the rather cowardly use of censored derogatory speech, including “blks” and “ngrs,” along with terms like “monkeys,” “kangs,” and “dindunuffins” (not to say that I’d prefer full on slurs, but I do feel that expressing opinions as strong as these requires speaking with ones chest). Overall, Twitter, especially after Musk’s takeover, continues to serve as a cesspool of hate speech, furthering social and political divides and the hopeless, listless sentiment that hangs constantly within our minds as Gen-Z.
At this point, I feel the need to restate that I support free speech. Still, when the “political opinion” expressed in a post is clearly nothing but hatred, should anyone really be forced to put up with your bullshit? Must there always be an “us” and “them” narrative in talking about your fellow man? Should we do nothing at all to ward off the intense feeling of hopelessness for the world that online media instills in us day by day?
To give this rant a meaningful takeaway, I urge anyone reading to quit being a “doomer,” especially as we confront the stresses that come with the end of another semester, and to practice and preach hope (shoutout professor Kandukira). If we look online, especially at Twitter in its current state, where the worst is always on display and allow ourselves to act like nothing will ever improve and that there is no hope, that might as well be the case.