Vibes in the Machine
pirate wires #89 // twitter cracks reveal a vibe shift, #metoo v. a kindly juiced up god of gym bro justice, media moves, low interest rate phenomena, and dawn of a new paradigm
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Blink. Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Twitter increased character limits on tweets for verified users, a major bug took down most of the site. For a few, harrowing hours, with direct messages nuked, tens of millions of users who attempted to post were blocked from doing so, and provided with the following, brief message: “you are over the daily limit for sending tweets.” It was as if Elon Musk himself were telling our nation of the too-online to calm down. You’ve had a long year getting mad about a lot of loser bullshit, now it’s time go outside and live your life.
It was a culture war détente. It was a pause, a long, reflective breath, and a heavy sigh. It was also a familiar feeling.
In the context of our recent breaking stories, not only on Twitter but across all the major platforms, it’s clear this phenomena — this exhaustion with the drama, this social media malaise — runs deeper than Elon’s recent Twitter growing pains. In tech, between layoffs and hiring freezes at almost every major company, and a significant decline in funding for startups, winter is here. Last year’s crash gave way to a single, industry bright spot in artificial intelligence, a rapidly maturing, paradigm-altering technology now challenging us with questions well outside our standard box of angry, happy colors. Back on Main Street, record inflation and skyrocketing interest rates have given way to broad, genuine concern for the future. Such anxiety has likely been exacerbated by a new Cold War with Russia, itself at hot war in Ukraine, and almost daily new displays of aggression from China, the agent of our last pandemic. But the pandemic, at least, seems (close to (perhaps!)) finally over. With viral panic expired in all but the most agoraphobic corners of the Washington Post, a sober look around reveals our cultural trends have all turned decidedly against 2020’s “mostly peaceful” riot culture. Altogether?
I think we’re in the middle of a vibe shift.