OPINION - Musk or no Musk, I have finally given up trying to give up Twitter

·3-min read
 (Sarfraz Manzoor)
(Sarfraz Manzoor)

I learnt that Elon Musk had bought Twitter, fittingly enough, on Twitter. The response to the richest man in the world buying the social media site has been mixed, ranging from those who thought it was merely bad to those who believed it was absolutely terrible.

The billionaire calls himself a “free speech absolutist” — others use less polite terms — and the fear is that by reducing content moderation and allowing the likes of Donald Trump back into the fold, the platform will be flooded with harassment and hate speech. That’s what has prompted various celebrities to grandly declare, on Twitter, that they are leaving.

The actress and activist Jameela Jamil was among those to announce she was off. “I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny,” she tweeted to her one million followers, adding: “One good thing about Elon buying Twitter is I will finally leave [Twitter].” The tweet gained 7,000 likes.

I can understand why some are queasy — there are surely better ways to spend $43 billion — but the Musk deal did not tempt me to leave Twitter, instead it finally confirmed that I never will.

I joined Twitter in 2010 and have repeatedly tried to give it up. That isn’t because I find it to be, in the words of Phillip Schofield, who revealed he had deleted the site’s app from his phone, to be a “cesspit” and “vile and disgusting”. I would reserve such harsh words for those who truly deserve it, such as Jeremy Kyle, who made a comeback no one was demanding this week on TalkTV.

No, my complaint isn’t that Twitter is too hateful or polarising, it is that is so entertaining. Addictively so. Twitter makes me laugh far more than it makes me wince. It offers such an effective platform for people to showcase their wit that it has made a show like Have I Got News for You, once a must-see, now feel largely irrelevant.

The laughter comes with a price. There was a 14-year gap between the publication of my first and second books. My excuse? Children and Twitter. How much more productive might I have been if I didn’t fritter away time scrolling and tweeting.

I do sometimes worry about the damage Twitter has wreaked on my anxiety levels, especially in the days that Trump was still active on the site. Twitter is maddeningly hard to give up because at its best it is hilarious and informative, quick-witted and stimulating. There are times when I have reached out to my followers when I have felt flat and dispirited and they have lifted me out of my gloom and cheered me up.

That is not a side of Twitter we often hear about but it also exists. Which is why, Musk or no Musk, I have given up trying to give up Twitter.

It’s hip to be old and shameless

I am sadly accustomed to childhood heroes dying, but the news that Liam Gallagher needs a double hip replacement hit me hard.

I saw Oasis in their prime in the early Nineties when Gallagher was at his swaggering peak. He was feeling supersonic then but now, he told Mojo magazine, “my hips are f***ed... and my bones are mashed up”.

Gallagher, below, went on to say that he would rather live with the pain to avoid having a hip operation. “It’s the stigma,” he said, “saying you’ve had your hips replaced… what’s next?”

He needs to have a word with Sir Rod Stewart, who posted a video this week of himself running on Instagram. “After a knee replacement and ankle fusion surgery, at 77 I’m back to top fitness,” he wrote.

There is no shame in having a knee or hip operation if it helps you live your best life. It was a great song but it was a lie: you and I aren’t going to live forever.

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