Look at me, I wrote a think piece about Twitter

So it’s actually happening. This is the year that the tech billionaires destroy the world they built, like Tezcatlipoca and Quetzelcoatl flooding the earth to snuff out the Fourth Sun. This first sentence has a Boris Johnson vibe to itpompous, a little glib, a decent analogy but with details I googled five minutes previous. We might feign surprise, but tell people they are gods for long enough and they will behave like gods- petty, horny, possessed of unlimited destructive power, and above all, bored. The Gods must be Bored. I watched Devs once and thought it was pretty good. If I solemnly inform you that ‘we’ feel a certain way, who the fuck are you to tell me I’m wrong?

I have never actually used Twitter. I have- I joined briefly when I was nineteen, got bored and quit very quickly, but it makes the story less interesting. And yet I felt a compulsion to join the platform as it flickered out of life- to swim amid the phantasmagoria of a recently submerged world. Actually I joined because I needed it for work- although somehow I don’t think I’ll be needing it anymore. You might wonder what pulled me in. You don’t though. The truth is I have developed a strange kind of bond with Twitter- one which I will here describe as a para-parasocial relationship. Literally anybody can invent pop psychology on the internet. It’s that easy.

What do I mean by this, you ask? Somebody.please.look.at.me. Twitter is unique among social media platforms because even those who are have never joined are constantly aware of its presence. In reporting and opinion every day, it crawls into our consciousness. Without ever having ‘been there’, I can tell tales of the Twitter wars. I can catalogue the public meltdowns of celebrities whose careers never interested me. I have screenshots of posts saved on my desktop. Like all good pop psychology, there’s a kernel of truth to this- it’s legit weird how much of a relationship we can form with a community we’ve only watched from a distance. Like children of the diaspora, we obsess over the health of the motherland we know only from stories. If you think about this simile too much, it collapses like a dying star. Please move along.

We must of course show solidarity with those fired by the capricious gods of big tech. In all workplaces, people deserve better than threatening late-night emails, sudden access revocations, gruelling work hours and gaslighting from corporate overlords. If I write this with an affect of social conscience, maybe it’ll get picked up by The Guardian. And yet, in a way, we are all being gaslighted- gaslit?by Elon Musk. Here I am trying to equate ‘losing income and health insurance’ with ‘reading contradictory news stories about a platform I never use’. Platforms like Twitter become part of our social milieu- their lies bleed into our lives, and their collapse touches us all. With extreme dexterity and grace, I’ve somehow managed to make this story about me.

There will be new platforms, of course- new places to laugh, and rage, and grieve. The 280-character format may have given form to some of our worst impulses, but human nature doesn’t change. You can tell this is the last paragraph because I’m making airy generalisations about human nature and the future. My para-parasocial relationship with Twitter is quite unique- but its collapse offers scope to create more meaningful communities, without this pithy demon of distraction. Plz add me on Instagram. Maybe the best honour which we can bestow upon Twitter is to go out into the world- (!) – leaving behind the feedback loop of outrage and suspicion, and build the new realm of the Fifth Sun, together. And what brave new world, that has such people in’t. Please can I have my Guardian column now?


The Secret Scoop On Tonight’s Presidential Debate

Hey! I’m back. After my blog fizzled out in the spring, some of you may have thought I was just unemployed and vaguely depressed. Far from it. Interviewing a local councillor about COVID-19 preparedness was merely a cover for a secret mission into the heart of a profound darkness, one which is threatening to engulf the whole of the US of A and, by extension, the free world in which we across the pond yet live. I have seen behind the curtain, and I know the sinister forces that would bring us to heel. I have trained in four martial arts and can kill a man in five languages. I can leave coded messages in the arrangement of flowers in a vase, which reveal the exact location of an enemy of the state. I have convened with the other defenders of freedom, and over vegan moussaka and apple brandy we have shared a meeting of minds, and spoken frankly about the burden of saving the world.

As a result of my escapades, I have a pretty good idea what’s going down at tonight’s 2020 US Presidential Debate. This will be a night to change the course of history, and all you poor creatures don’t even know it yet. I cannot reveal my sources until the night is out, but when everything falls into place: well, you’ll have heard it here first.

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The Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. EST 8:45 PM. Lights come up on Chris Wallace. He is watching, waiting. He makes small talk with the huddled masses at home, but nobody is fooled- he matters, they don’t. This will be his day in the sun, his wingbeat of glory. His wife watches from their living room couch, fingernails digging deep into her palms. Hating him, hating the very essence of him, but unable to change channels.

Trump enters stage right. He is clearly trying to look confident, but he appears weary, withdrawn, unhappy. The rings round his eyes where the tan line stops are pasty and cracked. Biden, meanwhile, takes the helm at the second podium with a bounce in his step. He suddenly looks younger than his seventy-seven years. Something is different about tonight. He allows Wallace to prattle on for a while; then the moment comes.

The two leaders are invited to shake hands. Trump is droning on even as he approaches his counterpart, some poor man’s parody of WWE smack talk. Biden grabs his hand, shakes it forcefully pulling him in, and quick as a flash, kisses the president’s still-yapping maw. ‘I got the virus, Donnie’, he mouths at the horrified Commander-in-Chief, a whisper so delicate it barely splits the air between the two sparring partners.  ‘Now you got it too’. And Biden slumps to the floor, smile beatific, as the bullet from the CIA plant on the Fox News camera team finds its mark.

— — — — — — —

In her office, Kamala Harris smirks, allowing herself a third celebratory single malt whiskey. Biden was so easy to manipulate! Never underestimate the humble dedication of a Senate veteran to this magnificent country and its three hundred and thirty million lost souls. But once Kamala’s secret Marxist sleeper cells activated in each state legislature across the country, she would channel the flow of election night and reap the rewards. With Trump soon dead, QAnon would be in disarray, and nobody would be able to challenge the evil at the heart of the American government. The elites would return to their satanic rituals. Normal order would be restored.

Harris puts her feet up on the desk, and barks a command at Alexa, who obligingly plays the first synth squelches of ‘We The People’. Unfortunately, the drumbeat from the smart speaker edges out a second, quieter noise- the spasmodic clicking of a rope harness being readjusted. Adumbrated against the anonymous DNC complex, a woman rappels down the external wall, her signature blonde coif flapping in the September breeze. Perching on the windowsill, she sees the prospective Veep unguarded, flicking through her phone. The window isn’t even locked. Amateur.

Harris finally hears a scrape and feels the cool air of an opening window, but it is too late. She spins, and sees an elderly woman, lit cigarette in the corner of her mouth and black lycra uncomfortably stretched over the unmistakable outline of a pantsuit, pointing a loaded pistol in her direction. ‘Don’t shoot. We can talk-‘

‘Pokemon GO to hell, bitch’, mutters Hillary. And she pulls the trigger.

— — — — — — — —

Later that night, with Huma Abedin and Tom Perez sweetly dozing in the bed next to them, Bill turns to his wife. ‘I just don’t understand it’, he says, wearily. ‘You know the death squads will do anything you ask them to. Why do you have to do your own dirty work, and put us both in jeopardy?’

Hillary smiles. ‘You and I both know that the DNC will never work out what happened. They can’t even get the vote out in Wisconsin. But it keeps me young, Bill! Christ knows I need a bit of action. Leaking the demonic secrets of the establishment is good, honourable work, but I wasn’t born to hide behind a codename and a message board. I was born to keep the forces of evil at bay, and ensure that good prevails. They don’t call me Agent Q for nothing’.