Mar 16, 2023, 06:29AM

I Don’t Make the Rules

Going 15 rounds with Elsie the Cow and Twitter Support. TKO.

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As noted in this space last year, I was agnostic when Elon Musk took control of Twitter. It was a source of entertainment when anti-Musk zealots claimed they’d leave Twitter—immediately!— and post their stories/cliché-ridden comments/sanctimony on left-leaning sites that had a whiff of Air America about them, although I’m not sure since I haven’t looked at Mastodon or Post News. Maybe they’re humming!

The gleeful predictions of Twitter’s almost-instant demise were, big surprise, a lot of hot air. Maybe Musk succeeds, maybe he won’t, but I glossed over the moral indignation. I also thought it made sense when Musk took a scalpel to the bloated Twitter staff, not executed in the most gracious or elegant way, but his managerial style, or lack thereof, isn’t uncommon, another Doom Indicator that critics lapped up, even if other tech companies soon followed suit. All of which makes sense in a turbulent economy; when market shares and advertising zoom zoom zoom to the blue-cheese moon, most entrepreneurs (or corporate managers) go on exuberant hiring sprees, raise salaries to be one of the guys/gals and engender at least temporary loyalty, and today, add (or expand) dog runs, snack bars, chefs and the usual 401(k) mumbo-gumbo—no doubt Cajun cuisine was a hit at Facebook and Google—and my, happy work environments were made even happier. Because if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

When the accountants of these companies huddle with executives to warn about fiscal distress, new villains headline the financial news, and social media. It’s no longer a family affair, but is cyclical, and in next couple of years when, one hopes, the economy’s again robust, the hiring and perks will return.

I don’t think it’s related to Twitter’s vastly-reduced staff, but last Saturday, after clicking on a seemingly innocuous tweet of a friend—a solicitation to vote for him as Best Photography Presentation on Twitter, or something to that effect—my account, started in 2008, with a relatively modest 3700 followers, was down the tubes. Turns out it was a bogus tweet that wasn’t from my friend, and by clicking on it, a hacker stole my identity and sent out absurd crypto scam tweets—this occurred while I was “re-connecting” with Bad News Bears with my wife and son Nicky, a film that always puts me in a good mood, but soon after the dark clouds appeared. Dozens of friends emailed to let me know I was hacked, an appreciated and polite action, and I dutifully contacted Twitter to patch up my leaking dinghy. (A sidebar: one longtime friend who warned me, an accomplished fellow I knew from the old days in NYC, after trading remarks about social media malfeasance, we had a “catch-up” session about our families. It was delightful: no politics or Ukraine, just lively banter.) 

No response from Twitter. Tried to log in to my account. Denied, like a bad credit card. Contacted Twitter Support again, and then again on Sunday, and still no resolution. I was aggravated, but figured that no one was at home at Twitter (wherever that is, the physical office in San Francisco or home in Mumbai) because it was the weekend!

(I remember in the Jack Dorsey days at Twitter that when the accounts of acquaintances were hacked, or capriciously banned, Twitter Support, which then numbered seven million people, were equally arrogant and unresponsive. I don’t take this personally; it’s a social media website, not my bank fucking up and informing me I’m six months behind on my small mortgage, a matter that demands immediate attention to rectify the mistake and restore my gold-card credit score. On the remotest of remote chances that my bank’s lender is reading, that was a hypothetical! Good giblet gravy, you better watch your step today because everyone’s watching.)

The hacker substituted their email for mine, and phone number, so on Monday I received a curt email from Twitter telling me to “create a new account” because that’s all I can do. (I did run through the Byzantine process of starting over, and, after flunking the “are you human” security graphic four times, finally hit paydirt and a new me was created, along with an avi taken from a 1962 Christmas party at my Uncle Pete’s house in Douglaston.) My previous email to Twitter Support saying that I paid for that microphone… I mean blue verification, meant less than zero. I guess that’s the way the now-unavailable quadruple chocolate macadamia and vanilla frosted cookie crumbles.

The loss of Twitter access screwed up my routine, which was displeasing, and I don’t agree with scores of users who claim “taking a week off from Twitter allowed me to embrace real life; it’s like fresh air!” I also live in the physical world, and though the Twitter disruption was a pain in the neck—akin to the days when there were newsstands and a favorite magazine wasn’t shipped on time, or there was a snag in your daily newspaper subscription; or, when I ran weekly newspapers the press broke down and the print run was 12 hours late—it was hardly the end of the world. What I missed during the brief trip to social media Siberia was scrolling Twitter in the morning, since breaking news stories—you have to judge the accuracy for yourself—appear almost simultaneously; for example, when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says this or that, and this or that causes the markets to tumble or rise, that won’t appear on The Wall Street Journal’s website for another hour. Likewise, if an MLB player is traded, signed to a huge contract or injured, sports posters are all over it, while confirmation waits at MLB Trade Rumors.

Is any of the above important? Certainly not to anyone but me and Splice Today writers, but it’s a Five O’Clock World and I felt it was my duty to “share.” Fuck you and fuck me, because as the ridiculously canonized Walter Cronkite said each weeknight, that’s the way it is. To his credit, at least “Uncle Walter” (barf) didn’t close with “It is what it is.”

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023


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