As I write this shortly after midnight central time, it seems as though Twitter is on life support. The actions of new owner Elon Musk have driven away large numbers of employees (not counting the thousands he fired shortly after acquiring the company), and there may not be enough key personnel left on the payroll to keep the service going.
If that’s the case, I’ll be sad to see it go. Yes, Twitter could be frustrating as hell when it served as yet another platform allowing lies and hatred to be spread world wide. But in the 13 years since I joined its community, I have met many smart, funny people and followed lots of fascinating writers, critics, reporters, comedians, magicians, and authors. I check my Twitter feed several times a day, and never fail to see things that interest me.
When Musk took the keys to the place, I worried it would be consumed by haters and trolls who would turn it into such a toxic environment that I’d walk away, disgusted. I didn’t expect that Musk would destroy it from within. I feel for the people who spent years of their lives building Twitter as a global town square, but now have to watch the thing they were so proud of being burned down. Perhaps they, or someone else, will be able to design a platform that’s even better — and somehow manages to operate in the black.
If and when Twitter takes its last breath, I’ll be left with no social media presence. Oh, sure, I’ll still write regular content for my website, HarrisOnline.com, which has been my online home for more than a quarter-century. But I left Facebook a year ago, never had a presence on Instagram/LinkedIn/TikTok, and would never go anywhere near Truth Social. I note that several of the people I follow are moving to Mastodon, but I find it too difficult to use and too under-utilized at this point. And you certainly don’t want me to start showing up on OnlyFans.
If Twitter does go belly-up, there’s a chance it could be resurrected after a time, but who would be left? And which personnel would remain or return to face yet more abuse from Musk as he watches his $44,000,000,000 investment turn into a funeral pyre?
Wednesday morning, before I began my weekly session with the latest group of start-up founders I’m mentoring, I told them to take one important idea from the carnage Musk has created — a credo for top executives at every company, regardless of size.
Be Kind. Don’t treat your underlings like trash ready to be disposed of. Don’t get into flame wars with your customers. Treat people with respect if you expect the same in return. Never let your employees or customers see you lash out in anger. Don’t expect people to put in excess hours you’re not paying them for.
Hardcore management tactics only cause bitterness and resentment, two words that are not conducive to creativity and growth. Whether you’re a billionaire, a millionaire, or someone just beginning to build something out of an idea, you’ll find that kindness goes a long way.
Oh, and if you do build something akin to Twitter, let me know so I can jump aboard.
I look forward to hearing what Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway have to say about all of this later today on their podcast, “Pivot.” But in the meantime, I do have to give Musk credit for not completely losing his sense of humor:
How do you make a small fortune in social media?
Start out with a large one.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022