Living in Society

Twitter Take Three

Despite yesterday’s mass resignation at Twitter, things seem back to normal. When an authoritarian boss gives employees an ultimatum to work harder or leave, for most people the only choice is to leave, thus depriving the authoritarian of their leverage. This is America. That is, unless your visa is based on such work and employees have morphed into slaves.

My freakout regarding Elon Musk buying Twitter is over. The big picture, obvious to any sentient being, is the transition is not going well. I don’t like the many little changes I’m seeing in the platform, yet I’m still there and will be for the short-term. Also, I can enter my birthday and get balloons on my account that day. That might be nice. Give me an edit button and it would be the cat’s meow.

Most of the rest of this post was written before Musk’s arbitrary deadline for employees last night. I plan to continue unless there is a subscription fee or the platform goes dark.

After the election I purged accounts. During a political campaign, the reasons for following had a shelf life until the general election. I got down to 160 or so. Now I’m thoughtfully curating a timeline that provides me the best of what is available and relevant. As of this writing, there are 173.

The core of people I follow are those with whom I have some personal connection or long term interaction on Twitter. I’ve been to their house, went to school with them, worked on a project together, or otherwise know them in real life. There is also a small cadre where I don’t recall how we got started in social media yet the thought of dropping them was too much to bear. This is to be expected.

I distilled the many possible local news reporters to a group of about a dozen that I either know or interact with frequently. I follow a few reporters who work for major news outlets, like the awesome investigative reporters Robin McDowell and Margie Mason with Associated Press, Emily Rauhala with the Washington Post, Jane Mayer and Elizabeth Kolbert with The New Yorker, and a few others. Wednesday I added Trip Gabriel with the New York Times and Vaughn Hillyard with NBC News. Both of them have been a frequent presence in Iowa doing political reporting and highlight important national stories without their tweets being too many.

After Michael Franken lost the Iowa U.S. Senate race, I had to find some Democratic senators to keep tabs on what the upper chamber was doing. Amy Klobuchar started following my account during the 2020 Iowa caucus cycle after I followed her, so there is one. I also decided to add back Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Chuck Grassley follows me, yet I don’t follow him any longer. I get plenty of information about Grassley from other sources, including occasional in-person encounters, and his weekly legislative newsletter. My other U.S. Senator is Joni Ernst. Because she is a rising Republican star, there is plenty of information available about her activities. I follow my congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks and she follows back.

Lastly, I revisited some of my connections with Friends Committee on National Legislation. I follow Joe Volk who is now retired and was general secretary when I visited in Washington, D.C. We did some events together in Iowa. I follow the current general secretary, Bridget Moix. I also follow Jim Cason whom I met in D.C. and Arnie Albert who was my D.C. roommate and is retired from American Friends Service Committee in New Hampshire. Friends Committee on National Legislation provides direct, accessible information about what’s going on in the capitol.

Like most users, I have no idea what Musk is doing. Perhaps he does, although Twitter users are doubtful and last night’s events were unexpected. He is apparently living at his office until whatever plans he has are realized. If he were to fail, which I doubt, I would shut it down and not seek another platform to replicate it. Twitter is useful for what it is –a valued news source. If it went away, I’d just have to adjust.