When I was 11, my dad got a PCMCIA for his laptop. Out of an abundance of trust, he let me access the internet, trawling forums, mIRC rooms, and eventually early online games like Ultima Online and EverQuest from a very young age. While one might say “this seems risky,” and one might be correct, it was a valuable part of my upbringing, because I was…not great at making friends in real life. I was overweight, unconfident, dressed poorly and parsed this into being someone else’s fault. My aesthetic self was not something that I was proud of, but online, as per Gary Larson, nobody knew I was a dog.
The internet (I believed at the time) was the way I’d learn to socialize, and on some level it was. I got more confident in my opinions and my persona without worrying that anybody would remind me I was 350lbs, which allowed me to start arguing with confidence, which led to the first of many times I would get corrected, either for what I was saying or for how I was saying it. I’d learn significantly more about socializing online before 18 than I would doing so offline, and the mistakes that get people in trouble — I don’t mean anything noxious, I mean being totally overconfident and misinformed and getting owned for it — were happening in forums that would cease to exist, before the Internet was quite so easily-browsable.
I feel like growing up on the early Internet prepared me for the nightmare that Twitter has become — an eternal Player Versus Player Online Role Playing Game where the CEO has become the largest raid of all time. It also resembles an online forum where the admin has gone mad with power, choosing to ban detractors based on hastily-invented self-protective rules that even their dumbest stooges can’t really justify. By banning several reporters from major news outlets — and frankly, it’d only take one — Musk has immediately burned any hope of defending “free speech” on Twitter, because he broke two of the most important forum-based rules:
- Don’t tell them you are mad.
- Don’t ban them because you are mad.
Musk’s flimsy justification that his “assassination coordinates” were being posted is a pathetic attempt to hide a story that I am, honestly, afraid to post on Medium, which is directly connected to Twitter, because people are being banned for literally posting a quote from the police. I can’t remember the last time I was scared the admin might ban me for saying the wrong thing. I just know it was at least 20 years ago…