Here is a taste of Atlantic writer Kaitlyn Tiffany’s piece, “Twitter Was the Ultimate Cancellation Machine.”
Whatever else it is, Twitter is a place where the average person can subject others to their displeasure. They have been mistreated by Southwest Airlines. They have been angered by the comments of a man who sells beans. They have learned, to their horror, that the father of their favorite indie-pop star previously worked for the U.S. State Department. In posting about these things in a venue where the target of scorn might actually see the complaint—along with perhaps millions of other people—the aggrieved may experience some instant relief. If you want accountability on social media, you tweet.
Which raises a weird question: If Twitter withers under Elon Musk, where will we go with our beefs? Even before Musk’s takeover, the platform was supposedly shedding its most valuable users; now many others are expected to leave as the platform becomes glitchier and more toxic.
Twitter has never been perfect, but it has been functional. The options for those seeking justice there exist on a spectrum from the silly to the profound; most are somewhere in the middle. A hideous crime has been committed against Taylor Swift fans by Ticketmaster, and they would like the Federal Trade Commision chair, the Millennial icon Lina Khan, to see their righteous anger and intervene. That’s mostly ridiculous, with a dollop of substance behind it; Ticketmaster isn’t undeserving of scorn. But the balance tips when ostensible do-gooder brands are called out for their antithetical labor practices, or when celebrities and politicians abuse their power to harm the people below them: The dynamic is sort of goofy, given that it still involves an avalanche of tweets supplemented with memes and in-jokes, but the impact is undeniable. The most famous example of this is #MeToo, which has been criticized for its perceived excesses and misfires but which was also awe-inducing in its weight and consequence.
Read the rest here.