In his statement announcing he’s successfully bought Twitter, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, claimed the site “is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” It’s an interesting way to characterize a website people use to either post reactionary quips they spent approximately 10 seconds thinking about, or to garner fleeting digital attention in an attempt to fill whatever emotional holes exist within them.
Yes, we suppose there are a few people out there who use Twitter.com, the site that gave us accounts like @Horse_ebooks, @Seinfeld2000, and @JurassicPark2go, as an important forum for serious debate. Podcast hosts, tenured college professors the rest of the faculty secretly hates, and, well, Elon Musk, do exist. But for most of the world, the site is best used for getting a cheap, quick little laugh.
Because let’s be honest—when you heard Musk was buying Twitter and you had serious questions about what it all meant, you probably went to sites like CNN or The New York Times first to find answers. Maybe you even went to Reddit. But if your immediate thought was “Okay, but did anyone make some Grimes jokes yet?,” you went to Twitter. That may be a necessary niche to fill—but one worth paying roughly $44 billion for? Only time will tell if this ends up better for Musk than the time Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace, but until then, here’s a round of what Twitter actually does best: dumb little jokes.