Far from being the platform on which we all coalesce to read, share and debate the news, Twitter has become the news itself in the past year.
It is perhaps the most meta (self-referential) phenomenon of the internet era. Elon Musk, the richest man in the world etc., who everyone ‘online’ talks about constantly, buys the platform that is his own personal animus, makes no money from it, hashes it all up.
The recent news over the weekend of accounts being limited to reading certain numbers of tweets depending on how new the profile is, or if they pay for the once-hallowed blue tick, has swept away everyone in yet another woofing contest over who runs Twitter and how and why.
When I started my career in journalism over a decade ago, Twitter was extremely inconsequential in my day-to-day activities. This stayed mostly the same until I entered financial journalism in 2016, right around the EU Referendum.
The pivotal events of that time – think Brexit and Trump – really turned (for me anyway) Twitter into the bristling arena of political debate and toxicity that it still largely is today. A place to bathe in breathless information sharing.
I would watch political journos all tweet the same simultaneous BrEaKiNg nEwZ as Theresa May invoked article 9 of the riot act or whatever, or Boris prorogued his lunch or something. It was constant. Then it got even worse during Covid.
No other piece of technology in the world leads us to question whether democratic governments are in charge, or being led by “dogpiles” and the scourge of online mobs quite like Twitter does.
Instagram is a walled garden of inanity while Facebook is something I go on nowadays when I need to know if there’s been a spate of bin violence by the local seagulls (I live in a coastal area before you ask).
LinkedIn is where I go if I’m really hankering after some humblebraggery. Don’t ask me about TikTok because frankly I’m over 30 and have no idea what goes on there.
And the trend which has now reached a crescendo is that Twitter far from being the platform of news, has become the news.
The timing of the latest controversy ties together all sorts of mad modern media threads including the threat of AI, how news pays for itself, who you can trust to report it, whether it really is just about making an extra buck or two out of users.
It just so happens it coincides with a book I am reading by Rolf Dobelli entitled ‘Stop reading the news: a manifesto for a happier, calmer and wiser life‘ (buy it here).
Fully aware of the irony of myself reading this, someone who literally works in the news media, it is an interesting polemic that reminds us the world exists without the screeching polemics and breathless reporting that turns the wheels of the news cycle.
While I am stopping some way short of fully taking Dobelli’s advice, the irony of Musk’s Twitter “rate limit” is he’s put us all on a news diet of sorts.
Your 600 tweets are up buddy, now go outside and breath in some fresh air.
Month ahead for July
This month, as we enter the Northern Hemisphere holiday season, is full of the usual fare.
With the housing market increasingly important at the moment we’ve got Halifax HPI on 7 July, RICS residential market survey on 13 July, Rightmove HPI on 17 July and ONS UK HPI on 19 July. The British Mortgage Awards are on 6 July.
And finally, the ‘Oscars of the financial media,’ Headlinemoney, is on 12 July.
ONS monthly employment and wages is on 11 July while monthly GDP is on 13 July, and inflation falls on 19 July.
Have a look at the rest of the essential dates in July 2023, and all the very best from us here at MRM and Mouthy Money.