Dear Elon: Here's What I Wish You Knew About Twitter

An open letter to Mr. Elon Musk, disruptor and Twitter CEO extraordinaire:

Since the first moment you whispered aloud the idea of buying Twitter, I have reveled in the nonstop hysterics of the Very Online™ progressive set. Even in the early days when we weren’t sure if the sale would ever be reality, just the specter of the left-wing meltdowns was enough to make me grateful even for the simple idea.


Things have certainly improved since the leadership has changed hands, and the Twitter Files have been a thing to behold.

Every day I see comments from you about how the platform will change – little nuggets meant to keep the users informed. I like and appreciate the transparency, and the willingness to take into account what users want their experience to be. Some of the proposed changes seem interesting, some of them I’m neutral about, and others worry me. I’m obviously just a writer…and a customer. It’s not up to me to decide how your businesses are run (good thing, too, because I’m quite sure I haven’t the slightest clue how to get to the moon), and I’m not writing this to pick apart which ideas I love and which I hate. However, as someone who has been on the platform for a long time, and who has basically grown my career through this platform (and also as someone who has met some of my best friends through this platform), I thought I’d take a few minutes to let you know what has worked for me and many people I know over the years. Perhaps it’ll be a welcome change from all the complaints about what doesn’t work.

Twitter is a microblog.

There is something very interesting about having to condense one’s thoughts into 280 characters (which is an improvement from the original 140). It requires a certain skill to master, and over the years the people who have mastered that skill have become the go-to accounts for humor, journalism, critical thinking or just gossip…whatever. My friend @iowahawkblog comes to mind right away. He has become the master of quick wit and condensed, provocative thought on Twitter. He doesn’t really do anything else in the online political sphere. He has become the epitome of the microblogger, and his follower count shows that people respond to that. He can turn a couple of sentences into a sword and slice right through the noise. It’s a skill I’ve often been envious of. Deeper thinking, thoughtful explanations, critical examinations – these are all things meant for blogs and articles and Facebook posts. Twitter works because the conversation is bite-sized. People who want more than a bite go to dinner somewhere else.


Twitter is great for ridicule. 

I know it’s petty, but it’s true. As we know, a progressive/Marxist tactic in the arena of ideas is to mock and “otherize.” It’s an effective one, and until the mass-adoption of Twitter, conservatives weren’t really good at it. But bad ideas deserve to be mocked, and should be mocked, soundly and often. Twitter’s microblog format makes mocking bad ideas easy, concise and very, very fun. @LibsofTikTok comes to mind, as does @DefiantLs. It’s the bite-sized set up that makes such mocking so accessible, digestible, and shareable.

Twitter is great for conversation.

Or at least it used to be. The brown shirts who have ended up running the joint over the last few years really killed conversation, but recently (as your recent increase in user accounts indicates) it feels like conversation is back. Sometimes when we hold “conversations” on Facebook, they feel more like lectures. I know I’ve written diatribes that I look back on and think, “Yeah, no wonder no one commented. Who wants to read a thousand words on why I think we need to end the Fed on Christmas Eve?” Many times I will quit reading a response that is longer than a paragraph. Social media conversation often feels hampered but the unlimited nature of the communication. Twitter forces users into a back and forth that helps push genuine conversation along. Yes, it can also be a total crap show! Tis the nature of social media in general. Even still, as it currently stands, the format is superior in social media for conversation.


Twitter (was) can be a meritocracy.

Censorship craziness aside, one of the best parts of Twitter (originally) was that you could earn your status. It wasn’t just a platform for sharing your work, it was also a way to elevate your brand. It was popularity that was earned, not bought. Later, yes, people began figuring ways to game the system. But in the beginning it really was about being engaging enough to earn the follows of people who shared your interests. I could never have reached the people I’ve reached without that meritocracy. Before Twitter Blue, that blue check felt like a validation of that work. I know some people felt like it created a “class structure” and maybe it did. I never felt that way. I felt like it was a sign that this account has generated enough interest to be protected from parodies and fraud accounts. I don’t mind the new system now. If people want to buy a check, great. Twitter has to earn money somehow. I’m just saying I liked the meritocracy the blue check used to represent. I still think that meritocracy is the best aspect of Twitter and I’d love to see it revived.

Twitter is great for networking.

I always thought it a bit odd that you could share other social media platforms on Twitter. It seems a bit like giving competitors a helping hand. I soon came to understand the value in letting users do that. It encourages users to stay by making it pay. If I couldn’t promote my other socials in my feed, I’d still enjoy Twitter, but I might spend more time on those other socials building them up, because I no longer have this great avenue. It’s a little thing, but something I think about from time to time. It used to feel like Twitter was on my side as a creator, and sharing was a big part of it.


Twitter builds relationships.

I know some people are already laughing because we all know how brutal the bird can be. I get it. Still, I’ve met some of my closest friends on this platform. Months or years of “conversation” and joking around turned into real-life meetings, which turned into lasting friendships. My friends Gary and Shelli Eaton come to mind. My podcast co-host Amelia Hamilton. My faithful amiga Michelle Lancaster. So many more. These are all people I began talking to on Twitter. Now I count each of them as dear, sincere friends. I’ve stayed in their homes, broken bread with them, shared their tears and their triumphs, and they mine.

All because of this hellscape that I can’t seem to quit, called Twitter.

That’s what’s great about Twitter, Mr. Musk. I hope these things never change, but if they do, I’ll at least be glad to have had the experience – both the good and the bad. For all its problems, I’ve never wanted to leave the platform. And says a lot.

Merry Christmas!


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