I’m trying to remember the last time I wrote in this blog. I think it’s been months. I admit fully and firmly that I’ve dropped the ball. Frankly, I’m tired. I’m tired of talking to myself. I’m tired of feeling like one of the few sane minds in a room full of cuckoo birds. I’m tired of watching people whom I know to be smart, rational people put their brains in their back pocket. I’m tired of the encroaching groupthink mindset that wants to push me into being absolutely for things, or absolutely against things.
Take Elon Musk, for instance. The guy recently went through with one of the dumbest moves in financial history when he purchased Twitter. The left went bonkers, screaming about the horrors of an eccentric, often erratic millionaire taking over a website mostly known for its high levels of toxicity and reflexive vitriol. In some quarters, folks are acting as if winter is coming. Maybe a nuclear winter, complete with total, eternal darkness, sparse life underground and 12-fingered children playing with two-headed mongrels in piles of glowing dust.
And why? Because, Musk dares to espouse the value of free speech. How dare he consider allowing Trump back on Twitter. How dare he give a platform to haters, homophobes and heretics?
Worse yet, he dared to cut Twitter’s bloated staff by half, a privilege extended to any new management when they take over a company. The former heads of Twitter knew this was a possibility when they agreed to sell. Included in that massive slashing of personnel was the entire accessibility team. For those uninitiated in the disabled club, these are the people who insure that Twitter is useable for those folks who do not interact with their computer devices in conventional form; folks like myself who use a screen-reader to voice the text on my screen.
Predictably, the disability justice crowd went nuts when the news came down last Friday. I’ve learned to reduce much of the shrieking of the online woke mob to background noise, but a few people whom I consider to be reasonable, level-headed thinkers also began to doomcast. One of them was my pal, Steve Sawczyn.
I mention Steve specifically and by full name because he is my benefactor. Steve is the reason why this blog exists; financially speaking. He pays the bill every year that allows me to continue to log in and share my inanities with all of you. I know Steve personally and he is a calm, kind man with a decent family who is generally not given to panic, hyperbole or capriciousness.
This is why I was startled when I read a tweet from Steve in the wake of the mass firings that said, “A few hours ago, Twitter laid off its entire Accessibility Experience team. This is sad not only because so many lost their jobs, but because so many more around the world may lose their voice.”
My response to Steve was characteristic of Twitter in immediacy and tone and indicative of my foul mood. “That is a load of horseshit! You can’t possibly believe that.”
Steve’s response was equally characteristic, equal parts brevity and deadpan. “This too shall pass.”
I want to repeat that I know Steve and he is a smart cookie. If he really believes that many blind people would lose their voices if Twitter should become unusable, he’s making this argument in good faith. A lot of the woke disabled left do not argue in good faith, such as their recent efforts to cast the legitimate questioning of John Fetterman’s fitness for office as, “Ableist.” If Steve says it, I’m sure he believes it to be true.
I have also learned a very painful lesson over the past seven years or so. No one is too smart to be stupid. Let me be clear that I am not saying that Steve is a stupid man. Quite the contrary. However, even the smartest people can behave in a stupid manner if they give themselves permission to do so.
I can’t tell you how many people whom I previously viewed as those of high intellect and strong character who evolved in their defenses of Donald Trump’s every action and utterance from tentative rationalizations, to shameless justifications, and finally, to full-throated cheerleading. The consequence of this was for the left, also populated with a lot of people who should know better, to use Trump as an excuse to rationalize, justify and cheerlead their own stroll down the path of casual authoritarianism. See previous arguments on abolishing the filibuster for more information. The latest culmination of this is the second of two speeches delivered by the current president of the United States, warning that, if Republicans win back control of Congress this coming Tuesday, Democracy will be endangered.
This unfortunate phenomenon is what us political junkies term, The Flight 93 Mentality. It stems from a now-deleted essay by Michael Anton in 2016, comparing the eminent presidential election to the doomed Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Anton’s ultimate point was that Americans (those who chose to vote for Trump) were the ones who would save the plane before it became a deadly missile that would inevitably destroy our country.
The premise was poppycock in 2016 and it is abject folderol now with Biden piloting the plane! I’m sure that Biden is typically unaware of the grand paradox (there’s that P-word again) of his assertions. If voters exercise their democratic privileges, they will only preserve said privileges if they keep one party in power without a proper counterweight. Come to think of it, I doubt Biden even knows what a paradox is. I’d hate to see him try to pronounce it. God, I love ableism!
How does this relate to Elon Musk and Twitter? Very simply, Twitter is a large source of the problem. Various doomcasters, doomscrollers and doomtrollers all find plenty of fodder on Twitter. Indeed, why can’t we distill the great nuances of life down to 240 characters, static photos and short video clips?
Am I saying Twitter shouldn’t exist? Hell no! It’s the consequence of a free society with innovation at its core. Am I saying it’s largely a cesspool of digital sewage? Absolutely! The whole blue checkmark debate reveals a virtual cast system perpetuated largely by those who decry cast systems in other quarters. Am I saying that blind people shouldn’t care about Twitter? Of course not. Bud disabled people around the world had a voice long before Twitter came to prominence and, now that we’ve proven that the bell cannot be unrung, we will find a way to express ourselves should Musk crash the plane in a grand, fiery plunge.
I think some of this current panic mongering comes, not just from the fear of lack of access, but from a personal animus toward Musk. Many people (disabled included) view Musk as a Trumpian figure who’s takeover of Twitter signals the decline of the noble order of values that once held sway in this valiant land of blue checkmarks. This is more uninformed fiddle faddle. I am not a cheerleader for Elon Musk. I don’t see him as a conservative avatar, or an avatar of any sort, for that matter. Like most rich people, the guy is probably equal parts crazy, narcissist and asshole. He has too much of an affinity for the Chinese government for my liking, which means he probably enjoys his own brand of autocracy. But how is this any different from the previous regime who chose to suppress the Hunter Biden story in hopes of swinging the 2020 election in their favor?
Elon Musk is now the sole controller of Twitter. That is the reality. He’s not going anywhere and he will not be cowed by online theatrical protests. If Twitter really is a hallowed ground of sacred principle, and if the disabled want Musk’s attention, how about trying to start a dialogue with him rather than going all fetal position inside of your own comfort bubble? Or maybe Jonathan Mosen will have his way and the NFB will sue Twitter. If there’s one thing the NFB knows how to do, it’s sue. I guess Mosen likes the NFB now, or at least, he likes them when they suit his purposes. I hope he doesn’t have any underage daughters who plan to attend their convention without a bodyguard.
In the meantime, another guy I follow on Twitter noted yesterday that the Instacart app seems to have become partially inaccessible. You can load your grocery cart, but you can’t check out. Yet, not a peep from the usual suspects. I guess mundane things like buying groceries isn’t nearly as sexy as hand-wringing over a crackpot rich dude who just took a wrecking ball to the latest international order.
Finally, on another subject, I wanted to write a long blog entry about the death of Queen Elizabeth and the profound sadness I felt when she left us. I guess it’s just not in me. I will simply say that, upon her death, it felt like the last truly adult head of state left the table. Now, it feels as if the kids are flying the plane. I know that new leaders will rise and some of them will be competent, but right now, it feels as if we’re in a void with no one to look to for guidance. What we’re left with is a country that can’t even hold a Prime Minister, another that will likely have a rematch between two addled octogenarians for the presidency in two years, war in Eastern Europe and a lot of countries who are casually veering toward authoritarianism. Does this seem like doomcasting to the two of you who are reading this? If so, than I have plenty of good company. God save the Queen.
As for you, Steve, if you’re reading this, feel free to pull the plug when the next bill comes due. The world will have to wait for my final thoughts on Better Call Saul. Honestly, at this point, I think I’m past caring.