Nov 14, 2023, 06:28AM

Elon Year Two Marks Key Achievement

The silence of the grad students.

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I saw “performative” the other day, the first time in a while. I don’t remember seeing “problematic” anywhere. Also, there seems to have been a great subtraction of quarrelsome threads, like an underbrush that’s disappeared. Now that they’re gone, it feels like the brambles reached the eyes. Look about you as Elon Year Two begins and you see bareness but experience a certain peace. No more Progressive Twitter. They’ve gone away.

There are other changes; some are more noticeable and others may be more serious. But the flight of the performatives fills my personal sky. As their cawing retreats, I wonder if I really want to ditch Twitter. I’d have taken off a while ago except for the usual guff: an invite code that didn’t work, a log-in that dead-ended. Now I find I like the deserted-mall
feel of new Twitter.

Elon Musk’s one great achievement here is to occasion his own shunning. He’s so distasteful and incompetent that he provoked an exodus. Of those who departed, many were surly and brain-proud, and now life feels cleaner for their absence. Musk is also brain-proud, in a douchey, clownish, know-it-all way, one practiced by a different crowd than the departees. In addition, he and his gang have nasty beliefs (objectively nasty beliefs, to use another clinker that’s thinned out these days). But Elon and his bunch don’t swarm about me the way the high-minded did. The boy-king is located there on his hill, to be pointed at. I have to live with his dumb edicts, like anyone. We all live with the rot caused by his tech crappiness (@Natalya74659 likes your tweet). But he doesn’t get in close and kill the soul.

Posturing, outflanking, extortions of belief, the chasing of some sense of intellectual advantage or moral advantage. The piebald scratching of the would-be, the alley cats clawing each other for fishbones out back where academia keeps its bins—excuse the word-jazz, “piebald” should be over by “alley cats.” But this swings and you get it. I mean status anxiety among Progressive Twitter was pervasive and left the nerves jangled and the heart soiled. Group think, the flipside of anxious status competition, also showed up. You know your standing’s all right when you and everyone else are all going after the same person. Whoever it is, they didn’t measure up, they weren’t smart and/or moral, and you definitely are because you’re chasing them, not the other way around. Of course, you get to chase them, the chase exists as a chase, because everyone else is doing it.

The mobs form less easily in Elon Year Two. No more Character of the Day. Maybe they’re doing that at Bluesky: some left-wing schlub who writes brochures for Northrop Grumman is getting strung up for wearing a keffiyeh or not wearing a keffiyeh. Here we delete bots and leave snide remarks about news clips and have the occasional conversation, sometimes sort of pleasantly. Progressives aren’t gone from Twitter; no group is, as far as I know. But that’s different from Progressive Twitter. Those of us who are still here are leftovers. There are fewer of us prowling around to take offense and footfault each other, and we lack critical mass. We don’t generate the overpowering, brain-crippling funk that produces avenging crowd after avenging crowd.

Maybe the people who took off, as huff takers, are the ones most inclined toward mutual bickering and collective shows of outrage. Either way here’s the rest of us, and now not even Musk counts as main character. I’m guessing the bots do.


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