Twitter, Heal Thyself
Twitter has been a top news story these days. And most of the controversy seems to be centered around Elon Musk and his attempts to fix the popular social media platform. While it’s true that Musk has had his fair share of Twitter-related controversies, it’s important to recognize that this “global town square” must own some of the responsibility for the raging conflicts that vilify Musk and have called into question the very viability of Twitter itself.
Is seems that this is less about Musk and more about the many of those who live and die by that tweet and retweet — and you know who you are. It’s about the self-absorbed, self-appointed, and self-righteous pundits that always seem to know better. Yet it’s their disdain for Twitter and Musk himself that lives in dramatic counterpoint to their perch on Twitter — a position that establishes and sustains, in many instances, their notoriety and profession.
Twitter has always been a hotbed of controversy and conflict. But in recent months, it seems to have reached a fever pitch. Twitter is like the Wild West where anything goes and everyone has an extended clip of 280 characters. The platform has become a magnet for those looking to do damage, whether it’s to an individual or to Twitter itself. It seems that Twitter itself has become weaponized as a social tool of instigation and oppression where the “authoritative voices” define the lethality of the tweet.
But I think there’s hope. Once we shift away from the political banter and dystopia perspectives, we can see that this potential power stems from Twitter’s ability to gather and analyze massive amounts of data in real time, allowing it to detect emerging trends and patterns that can drive our collective understanding of the world forward. It’s the quintessential hive mind — a collective intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals.
In many ways, Twitter is a living organism and is an expression of the millions of voices that animate the platform. It’s time for Twitter users to take a long, hard look at themselves and recognize both problems and opportunities in what may be the most powerful (digital) democracy on earth.