If Twitter burns to the ground, find me on the Heathrow live feed, writes Felix Desmarais. Photo / AP
Twitter may be dying, and it’s chaos over there.
Not just because of the unusual antics of its new owner, but as usual, because of some of the users themselves.
Billionaire Elon Musk bought
the social media platform in late October for a casual US$44 billion. It’s haemorrhaging staff – who keep the site running – through firings, redundancies and resignations. It seems the great tweeting bird may soon fall from the sky.
Like the band on the Titanic, with seemingly impending cyber-doom, some Twitter users are holding on for dear life, and issuing their final words on the site.
A Twitter user – or Tweep – since 2012, I initially joined because it was where all the comedians were (which is what I was at the time). Then I stayed because it was also where all the journalists were (which is what I became).
I thought carefully and issued what may be my last tweet, reminding people that the word travesty means ‘misrepresentation’. It drives me crazy when people use it as a synonym for tragedy.
It’s a travesty of the word travesty when people use it to mean tragedy.
It’s the hill I will die on, and I’ll use my last breath to say “travesty does not mean tragedy”.
Of course, it could all be for nothing – perhaps Twitter will limp on.
Some on the site seemed devastated. I’m not. It’s been a love/hate relationship for me.
There was a lot of good on Twitter – mainly the humor and memes – but it’s also littered with bad faith trolls, people who want to tell comedians they’re not comedians, and people who want to tell journalists they’re not journalists, and some just truly rotten people.
It can often be where grown adults make a really good case for climate change to go ahead on schedule. The earth will survive us, after all.
If Twitter dies, I will miss the photos of corgis and videos of planes landing in crosswinds, but I can also easily find them elsewhere.
That’s not to say I won’t also find trolls elsewhere. They’re an occupational hazard for journalists, much like cow pats for a farmer. Farmers invest in good gumboots (or indeed step on the cow pats without a bother). A wise journalist doesn’t bother reading the comments.
I’m grateful I happened to be born at a time that meant I remember a time before the widespread use of the internet (the dial-up tone gives me waves of nostalgia) but I was also young enough that I’m virtually a digital native.
I can see the blessing and curse of the internet. I look at the pile of books next to my bed and wonder, if it were still an internet-less world, would they have all been read by now? I suspect they would have. I was a voracious reader before the net came along. Really, I still am, albeit reading, constantly, on various screens.
But the internet is also a gift, and there are pockets of it that make the rest of the unfettered apocalyptic cyber trashfire (sort of) worth it.
I found a prime example of it this week. I love aviation – if I hear a plane overhead, I’ll fire up the FlightRadar24 app to see what kind of plane it is, where it’s going, and its altitude. Sometimes I listen to live air traffic control via the internet. Listening in to LAX last week, I wondered if there was a live feed to match from the airport.
Sure enough there is, and it happens all around the world. On YouTube, you can watch planes landing in Lanzarote, Nuuk, Manchester, Prague – you name it. Aviation enthusiasts stand for hours filming take-offs and landings, commenting with the same infectious enthusiasm my 3-year-old nephew has for fire trucks.
And the comment section? Full of people saying cheery hellos to one another from all around the world, and mutually enjoying their niche interest. They’re all so nice to each other.
So if Twitter burns to the ground, find me on the Heathrow live feed. No more birds for me, thanks, only planes.
• Felix Desmarais is a journalist and mostly-former stand-up comedian.