Will Linda Yaccarino turn Twitter into a dating site?
The new CEO could temper some of Elon Musk's wackier reforms
Those who rejoiced at Elon Musk buying Twitter are now lamenting his rumoured appointment of NBC executive Linda Yaccarino to be the site’s new CEO. The anons who cheered the site’s takeover by a man some viewed as on their side are now decrying its return to the clutches of a “lizard woman”, which is to say an apparatchik of what neo-reactionary theorist Curtis Yarvin calls “The Cathedral”.
If so, there is at least one silver lining to the Longhouse roof: we may see censorship back soon, but we will at least be spared any further misguided attempts by Elon Musk to render things visible and accessible that stop working when they’re visible and accessible.
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Much digital ink has been spilled on the blue tick debacle. A marker that carried implicit social cachet because you couldn’t (at least officially) buy it did not long retain that cachet once available for $8 a month. And the online rumour circulating shortly before the announcement of the company’s new CEO would have had much the same effect: that is, that Musk was reportedly considering launching a Twitter dating function.
As any fule kno, Twitter is already a dating website. You don’t have to delve very far to find now-married couples who met on Twitter, and indeed I know some personally. But making this explicit would not have improved on its existing function.
Twitter is the origin of many love stories because it works in exactly the opposite way to a dating website. Instead of casting the net too wide, resulting in endless bad dates, it provides some measure of filtering by social circle and an opportunity to meet people who share the kind of niche interests you would never put in a dating profile.
In contrast with a dating website, too, it incentivises corresponding at length before meeting up. But most of all, Twitter is effective as a dating website because it isn’t a dating website. Instead of awkward meetups within an explicit frame of seeking romantic (or even just sexual) compatibility, it prompts conversations, some of which may go on for a long time before anyone realises anything else is going on.
By downplaying love, it has afforded space for love to creep up on people. In this it underlines a paradoxical feature of our now-emerging digital norms: one starkly at odds with the free-speech absolutism advocated by Musk and others. That is, digital cultures are liveliest not when they’re most liberated, but when subjected to a measure of constraint — even when those constraints are, from a “classical liberal” perspective, objectively oppressive and illiberal.
This wasn’t obvious in the early days of the internet, because the constraining factor was the level of technical knowledge you needed to be very “online” at that point. Since social media removed that constraint, though, the need for boundaries has grown increasingly apparent: this is as evident in the retreat of “dissident” discourse into gated group chats, as in the rollout of digital censorship measures across the West.
But it’s also culturally necessary: total exposure is a disaster for everything about human social interactions that thrives on tacitness, such as social status or sexuality. As the blue tick story demonstrated, making everything visible and equally accessible does not, in fact, make everything egalitarian. Applying the logic of total visibility to Twitter’s undercurrent of flirtation might, by the same token, result in more hookups originating on Twitter. But the price would almost certainly be fewer Twitter love stories.
It remains to be seen whether Linda Yaccarino will in fact turn out to be Musk’s creature or that of “The Cathedral”. But should the anons be right, Yaccarino will bring Twitter once again under a regime of speech restraint like the one that preceded Musk’s acquisition of the site. If she does, though, perhaps the blame will lie less with the WEF or other such metonyms than with the distinctive ways our now firmly digital-first political landscape departs from the norms of the liberal one it displaced.
The relentless discussion about Twitter generally, and Musk’s takeover specifically, is a wonderful indicator of the elite vs the rest phenomenon.
I believe 20% of the U.K. population and 25% of the US have a twitter account. Probably only 10% of these accounts are really politically active. Everything this 2 or 2.5% of the population say is hugely amplified by the MSM, giving them a fantastically disproportionate voice, completely out of touch with those of us who don’t want to go near the thing.
I don’t disagree with your statistical estimates much but Twitter is not necessarily all political. We’re just at a point in time where everything is viewed through a “lens of politics” because western academia was infiltrated over the past 50-60 years by Critical Theory and it reduces everyone to their politics.
Power and influence are not necessarily political. Elon Musk didn’t become the richest man in the world through political means. He did it through traditional meritocracy. He was and still is a tireless visionary. He doesn’t get everything right. But he applies a process and works out contradictions into new syntheses with an appreciation for his own fallability.
The Public isn’t helpless. They can choose who or who not to follow. You’re right that a small percentage of the population produces a disproportionate level of publicly digested information but that’s how it should be in a meritocratic hierarchy.
Like Jordan Peterson says it should not be about “abolishing hierarchies” as the Marxists claim to want but creating hierarchies that favor honest meritocracy. An honest meritocracy that promotes equality of opportunity and rewards successful ideas with humility is the best we can do.
Completely agree. Can we stop talking about twitter completely, and can we talk about Elon Musk a lot less please. We are all about to go extinct in under a decade, and I for one would rather talk about more interesting things, like the proper way to address St. Peter at the Pearly Gates for example. Because it would suck to be turned away from the Kingdom of Heaven because we didn’t know the correct secret masonic handshake because we were all too busy scrolling twitter all day every day. Also, it would be quite nice to have some advice from UnHerd on how to leave a nice tidy estate behind, tax affairs sorted etcetera, for our Robot Overlords, I mean what would they think of us if we leave behind a big mess for them to have to deal with, they would probably conclude it was just as well they wiped us all out, the load of hopeless chaotic idiots that we were.
How Late It Was, How Late.
I love Twitter. You can curate it to your tastes and they are not necessarily political. I follow politics, cute animal videos, science and medicine, chess, original thinkers, interesting people, sport, culture wars and and…. I now follow Linda Yaccarino and am curious to see what if anything she will say. I am ready to pounce! Elon’s posts are usually good value.
I only do political Twitter, and it honestly never occurred to me that people use it for dating. It’s obvious when I think about it, but I have never encountered it.
I didn’t start using it until 2021, but I spend quite a bit of time on it now. I post on Twitter on almost entirely dissident topics, but it is all fully public, as is my identity. I belong to no groups or communities on social media. I have little time for anonymous accounts.
Twitter 2.0beta has been a massive improvement for me; the cancelled, the terfs and hundreds of dissident doctors and scientists are all back, and they can pretty much say whatever they want. I ran out of popcorn watching the hypocritical bleating of legacy blue ticks.
I talk about the WEF, and I do believe that they are acting in concert with the usual suspects to try to centralise power and control, but I am not yet panicking about Musk’s appointment. I am bemused about it.
Yaccarino is just such a cartoon baddie. You could barely imagine an appointee more calculated to enrage the Musk fan club. So what is he up to? I don’t know, but I’m going to wait and see.
When he bought it the Woke threw their toys out of the pram and announced they were off to Mastodon, but never in fact left. I am not going to fall into the same trap and make myself look silly, as some others are doing. In replies to Tweets today Musk has said there will be no return to bans or shadow bans and that a wide range of views will still be encouraged. Musk’s ego is bound up in this; he has staked much of his personal credibility on his free speech absolutism, so backing down on that would be very damaging.
I don’t think the biggest danger to free speech is this appointment. I think the real problem comes from governments around the world. We are seeing repressive free speech legislation in Ireland, Brazil and Canada. Our Online Safety Bill (especially with the amendments, e.g. Bethell), and new EU legislation, will likely force Musk to censor Twitter for us anyway.
The WEF are wrong ‘uns, but one has to be careful not to think they have mystical powers. Their influence is not directly on Twitter; it is on the governments passing the legislation that affects Twitter. The worst thing I think that can reasonably happen here is that we revert to how it was before Musk bought it, perhaps with even tighter censorship. I believe Yaccarino is being brought in to focus on advertising, which she is an expert in, and I suspect if she oversteps the mark, she’ll be out. Musk has agreed to put Twitter through a test of the new EU legislation later this year, one of the few platforms to do so voluntarily, and I wonder if she is on board to try to help him final a way through that.
I think Musk is enjoying this; he tweeted one of his favourite slogans earlier: “the most entertaining outcome is the most likely”.
Good points. I think we should wait and see. The Yaccarino appointment is unexpected, but maybe Musk knows something we don’t.
“. . . total exposure is a disaster for everything about human social interactions that thrives on tacitness, such as social status or sexuality.”
Formerly, I would never go near Twitter because of its well-earned reputation of censoring the non-woke. However, after a month or two of reading about Musk and the “Twitter Papers” that exposed the collusion of the FBI and CIA etc, I put my toe in as a sign of support to Musk’s endeavors. So far, I’m careful about whom I follow (eg am following Mary and Kathleen Stock of UnHerd), and only look in occasionally.
Moreover, I’ve never been aware (or cared) that it had an implicit dating function, so this article was news to me.
That said, I thought Mary’s insight (summarized in the quote about) highlights a truth that is being obscured by the social media feeding frenzies: the best relationships tend to be those in which everyday interaction slowly reveals attractive characteristics of someone you work with or go to school with etc, and the most rewarding often occurs when you are quietly surprised to learn that the other finds you attractive- when you were just enjoying conversations with them.
In short, the explicit goal to find a mate (or get laid etc), generally distorts the “tacit” things about the other person: once you define the other as a “candidate” for some specific purpose, it’s difficult to get to know them. And such knowledge should precede the attraction. As Robert Frost put it:
“Heaven gives its glimpses only to those
Not in position to look too close.”
The mere whiff of WEF, isn’t that enough?
I don’t use Twitter, but i can imagine the slowly growing realisation that there’s an attraction between two people during online discourse. Words have power.
What this reminds me of most, is the good old-fashioned consequences of – entirely by happenstance apart from a shared work interest – finding oneself spending a good deal of time alongside someone who, over the course of weeks or even months you start to find attractive. This was how i met my future wife, and also how my marriage eventually broke up, through falling in love with someone else.
In both instances, there wasn’t an initial kapow!! of physical attraction, although that gradually changed. So i can imagine how online words might act in the same way; perhaps even more powerfully since they’re ‘curated’ to a greater extent. I hope those who eventually decide to meet up aren’t therefore disappointed by the spontaneous reality!
I met my husband online… it allowed for appreciation of the written word over a period of time and removed the happenstance thing, which is often fuelled by alcohol. We have been together 20 years.
Well quite. Didn’t Rostand write a play about all this, about 125 years ago.
Mary! You’re a genius. Not just about Twitter or even digital interactions in general, but all human interactions. The chance to sort of sidle up to other people, regardless of the actual reason, is what human social-rubbing-together is all about. It explains why the dog-park scene can be so gratifying; aside from actually meeting someone significant to you ( which, alas, never happened), there’s the idle flirting, the humor, the just plain old talking piffle, etc. There’s even a theory that they built Stonehenge just for an excuse to get together every year; eat, drink and be merry and look the other way while their horny teenagers got on with their adulthoods.
One question: what did you mean by “Longhouse”?
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