X is Elon Musk’s lonely occasion now

That is an version of The Atlantic Each day, a e-newsletter that guides you thru the most important tales of the day, helps you uncover new concepts, and recommends the perfect in tradition. Sign up for it here.

As we shut out the 12 months, it’s official: The Twitter we as soon as knew is lengthy gone. Elon Musk’s reinvention of the platform, from its title all the way down to its core options, has rendered it practically unrecognizable to customers. The lead writers of this text, Tom Nichols and Lora Kelley, have every hung out considering and writing about X, in addition to posting and lurking on the platform. I chatted with them just lately about Musk’s murky logic and the brand new web period he’s by accident ushered in.

First, listed here are three new tales from The Atlantic:

‘It Nonetheless Has a Kitchen’

Isabel Fattal: Do both of you name it X? Does anyone name it X?

Tom Nichols: No person I do know calls it X. What silly branding, to go on the web with one thing known as X. It’s like Musk simply doesn’t perceive the positioning that he purchased—I believe that’s been an issue from day one. Musk wished the brand new Twitter to be identical to the outdated Twitter, besides it could be a spot the place he and all of his associates are cool.

Lots of people use the metaphor of a playground, however it’s like strolling into a celebration in an house constructing, and other people aren’t laughing at your jokes, so you purchase the entire constructing and say, That is my house now, and I personal the constructing, and you need to like me and snicker at my jokes.

Lora Kelley: Musk made modifications to the algorithm to assist his personal posts get extra engagement, in line with reporting earlier this 12 months. He desires it to be the place the place he’s the funniest man.

One thing I’ve heard comic associates say up to now is: In the event you’re doing a stand-up set and the viewers isn’t laughing, it’s not that there’s one thing improper with the viewers. There’s one thing improper with the jokes that you simply’re telling. I believe Elon Musk is making an attempt to make use of his billions of {dollars} to reorient that logic, and it’s not likely working.

Isabel: Inform me the way you every use Twitter (uh, X) proper now.

Tom: I don’t use Twitter professionally as a lot as I do to submit cat photos and speak about classic tv and swap nerdy recommendations on gaming. I do submit tales from The Atlantic, and I do push my books each probability I get. However I first got here to Twitter years in the past, after I was a professor, and, as an educational, I had many different assets for substantive conversations—so Twitter was principally about political arguments whereas posting little life bits right here and there.

Today, my political engagement with the platform has dropped considerably, as a result of it’s too tiring to must wade by way of all of the crap.

Isabel: Have you ever had a productive political debate on Twitter up to now six months?

Tom: No. In the event you had requested in regards to the previous six years, I might have mentioned sure.

Lora: I’m largely a lurker at this level. I used to be by no means the most important Twitter person; I’ve at all times used it to share article hyperlinks and do some reporting. I do have this thread of anthropomorphic tooth, my best expression of Twitter use.

Tom: I’ve not seen this. Is that this one thing I would like?

Lora: Sure!

Isabel: At this level, Twitter isn’t a lot use for dependable information, however there was a time when customers have been counting on the platform for information updates—possibly an excessive amount of. Do you suppose that an overreliance on Twitter for information was a mistake even within the pre-Musk period?

Tom: It was at all times a mistake to rely solely on Twitter for information. Nevertheless it was actually helpful. I’ll truly say a advantage of Twitter being much less helpful for information, which is that it doesn’t enable folks to stay within the second of a nationwide disaster all day. They really must unplug.

Lora: I agree with Tom that relying solely on Twitter for information, to the extent that folks have been doing that, was a mistake. However I did discover it helpful to listen to straight from individuals who have been residing by way of information occasions—the day-to-day experiences of residing on this nation throughout instances of change. I used to seek out sources for articles on Twitter, however it’s gotten much less helpful since Musk made modifications to options equivalent to search and DM.

It’s a disgrace that that’s gone. However the web site has gotten so unhealthy currently that it’s straightforward to idealize what it was like earlier than Musk took over. Individuals have been being harassed and sharing every kind of bizarre, funky data again then, even when the proprietor of the positioning wasn’t personally pointing users to this data.

Isabel: We all know that the platform has misplaced some of its users beneath Musk. Do you suppose we might see a mass exodus within the coming months?

Tom: All good events find yourself within the kitchen, with a small group of individuals which are having a variety of enjoyable as a result of they’ve moved away from every thing. Twitter nonetheless has a kitchen; you’re nonetheless linked to the folks you have been linked to 5 years in the past or three years in the past. From time to time, some uninvited doofuses drunkenly stumble by way of. However by and enormous, we’re nonetheless having enjoyable, simply with a smaller group.

We haven’t hit the purpose the place everyone leaves, however there are actually a number of locations to go in the identical constructing: Bluesky, Threads. It was that Twitter was just about the one place within the constructing the place there was an excellent occasion. Now the occasion’s dispersed. That’s all Musk actually achieved: reminding those who there are different choices, and making it conceivable for different platforms to select up the slack.

Lora: I do suppose that this has been a present to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg. It’s ironic: Lots of people are flocking to Threads, however a number of years in the past, lots of people within the media and on the whole wouldn’t have flooded to a Zuckerberg-operated product.

Tom: Elon Musk has achieved the not possible: He’s made folks suppose properly of Mark Zuckerberg.

Isabel: How do you every method the thought of leaving X? Is there one line the platform might cross that might make it not possible to remain?

Tom: The individuals who depart annoy me, as a result of they’re just like the individuals who say, “If Trump’s reelected, I’m shifting to Canada.” You don’t clear up something by going wherever. You keep and also you voice your objections, and also you talk with the folks that you simply need to talk with.

The one factor that would kill off Twitter is that if Musk removes the block perform. Then I believe everybody must depart, as a result of it could grow to be unmanageable.

Lora: For me, it is likely to be much less of a dramatic “I’m quitting and by no means coming again” and extra of a decline in my utilization, which has already been occurring. As somebody who writes about these subjects, it’s fascinating for me to regulate issues, however I’m already discovering the positioning much less helpful.

Tom: We’re by no means going to get to the tip of Twitter, however we’re on the finish of Twitter as probably the most influential social-media web site. I additionally suppose that would change. If Musk have been to depart and grown-ups have been again answerable for Twitter, Twitter might truly come again.

Lora: I additionally surprise if the period of those large, dominant social-media firms is winding down, particularly for youthful customers who’re coming of age on the web. For a number of years now, a variety of youthful folks have been shifting towards direct messages, group messages, and smaller-format social-media experiences fairly than posting to the world on a feed.

Tom: In that sense, Musk broke the spell. He taught those who they will stay with out deep engagement on social media.


Night Learn

An illustration of a sheet hanging over a painting
Illustration by Matteo Giuseppe Pani. Supply: Getty.

Why Black Jesus Made My Grandmother Uncomfortable

By A.J. Verdelle

Once I was a tween, and simply starting to be aware in regards to the giving of presents, my sisters and I have been Christmas purchasing at one of many festive pop-up markets in our nook of the town. We discovered a stellar present for one among our grandmothers, which we knew for certain she would love …

By her personal cautious design, Ma Jones was the personification of Black matriarchy: loving, hovering, caring, devoted nearly to the purpose of martyrdom. She labored three jobs not for herself, however for the household; not for herself, however for our future. Not one among us doubted that she modeled herself after Jesus—his behaviors, his beliefs …

We discovered a portray of Jesus who was as chocolate brown as Ma Jones. I can nonetheless see her—darkish pores and skin ringed with knowledge strains, displaying age in the identical method as bushes …

When gift-giving time got here, my sisters and I labored as a group to ceremonially reveal our studiously chosen current. Our grandmother regarded on, smiling. We fastidiously unsheeted our Jesus, and we watched our grandmother as recognition slowly dawned … Our grandmother turned and left the room, holding her hand over her mouth. Sacrilege!

Read the full article.

Extra From The Atlantic

Tradition Break

A still from "The Color Purple," showing Fantasia Barrino wearing a red dress and red lipstick
Warner Bros. Footage

Watch. The Shade Purple (in theaters) finds its personal rhythm in a tear-jerking and exultant epic.

Learn. Condolence, a brand new poem by L. A. Johnson:

“After the store-bought Christmas / dinner was ordered     bought / picked up by me     and introduced on / ceramic dinner plates as a result of / it’s Christmas     in spite of everything.

Play our daily crossword.

Katherine Hu contributed to this text.

Whenever you purchase a e-book utilizing a hyperlink on this e-newsletter, we obtain a fee. Thanks for supporting The Atlantic.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles