I asked my son last night what he thought about Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
He paused for a moment and first replied that he thought free-speech was good and important, then, that he didn’t think it would make any difference to anything and finally, that as Elon Musk has done so much to promote electric cars that we shouldn’t be too concerned.
It all came-out in one go and I wasn’t sure what to think or reply.
Yes, I agree with free-speech and yes, the world is so obfuscated and yes, he is the electric car guy.
What about bots Tweeting? What about lying leaders? What about the AI manipulation? Either the technology doing what it wants or someone guiding its hand, via algorithms.
Having watched a You Tube with Elon Musk I know he is worried about AI, which suggest that at least he is aware of the problem, although it’s likely that the folk currently at Twitter are just as concerned.
As with most conversations, it ended with my not conveying all that I was thinking, and us drifting-off into the more mundane.
‘And, I don’t use Twitter,’ he added.
And, what about Twitter?
What about Trump’s suspended account?
What about suppression in China or North Korea and the removal of the site in Russia?
What about free-speech and being able to say what you want, when you want, to who you want?
As I was thinking about this blog today, whilst walking the dogs on the damp Doncaster streets, I recalled a previous blog and a book that has influenced my thoughts for decades. It is by Steve Biko, called, ‘I write what I like.’
Younger readers will not know about Biko and they might not have even seen the movie. He was an Anti-Apartheid campaigner who was arrested by South African police and battered to death.
Yes, he wrote what he liked.
I have reflected on my own facility for free-speech. Can I say what I want?
I am bounded by my own internal anxieties and concerns, my consideration of what others might think about me. I am constrained by professional regulations and guidelines. I have patient-doctor confidentiality.
Most of what I think remains inside.
Some people, let’s call them extraverts tend to let everything spill-out. I am not one of those.
This blog is a form of cognitive expiation.
I write what I think people will read and what I think won’t make them suspect I am too unhinged.
Trump Tweeted what he thought.
A recent Netflix documentary, the Social Dilemma, describes some of the problems associated with social media and in particular Facebook and Twitter (other platforms are available and used by younger people.)
Yes, social media was fundamental in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Obama’s campaign has used social media successfully too. It just so happens that my world-view aligns with Obama’s and Trump, well, his contempt for the world will always make me feel sick.
I don’t know the extent to which social media has influenced politics in the UK. It is hard to say, although likely Brexit and BJ being the PM are consequences of programmer manipulations.
Contempt, and I think of Reece-Moog.
I think of that guy who yesterday resigned for watching pornography on his phone in parliament.
I read an interview with his wife yesterday. She was of the opinion that women wouldn’t become involved in the ‘industry’ if they didn’t get something out of it.
I wanted to slap her.
Will Elon Musk owning Twitter make any difference to the behaviours of these people?
No, I doubt it.
I also think of the Tesla super-chargers at the service stations. Most almost always lying half-unused whilst other electric car drivers like me queue to use the one or two public chargers.
I think of inequality.
Recently I watched Jeremy Paxman’s interview with Russell Brand. He (Russell) was explaining why he doesn’t vote, the rationale being that left or right, the system is so corrupt that nothing but a total revolution will make any difference.
I can’t see a revolution any time soon.
Musk buying Twitter is a revolution of sorts although a silent one, brought to life by digital interfaces arguing with one another.
And, as the poem goes, ‘Prices will rise, politicians will philander.’
The inevitability of change. The futility of reflection.
Live for the moment, the here and now. There isn’t anything else.
My thoughts are not my own, they are the run-off, the slough of being alive.