By Anne T. Donahue
Good morrow, friends, I have a question:
Why are they still here? Why are, the symbols we once used to prove ourselves as actual people still next to our names? Why won’t Elon Musk just take our blue checkmarks away? Take them! Please! We don’t want them anymore! Nobody in their right mind is paying for Twitter blue and we are all terrified that strangers will think that’s something we’ve all done! Take the checkmarks, we don’t want them! We all need validation, yes, but certainly not enough to pay $11/month for it.
This is the second time the most unfortunate person in the world (Elon Musk, owner of Twitter) threatened that we’d wake up on an April morning and find ourselves stripped of what used to mean something. In March, we were threatened that April 1 would mark the end of blue checks for non-Twitter Blue subscribers (again, we were like “Please, I beg you, take it from me”) and then we got a follow-up announcement that on 4/20 (#wow) the change would finally take.
It hasn’t taken. They’re all still there. They, like the sled in Citizen Kane, continue to haunt our waking moments, threatening to expose us for fools who once thought this (she said, gesturing widely before pointing at Twitter) all meant something.
Even though it kind of did. If you’re freelancer or an artist or a person who uses the internet to share their work and to make pals (hands up if you met literal best friends you now have via Twitter), Twitter has been a really useful tool. Sometimes it’s still a really useful tool, provided you’re willing to sift through the garbage mountain to find that crumpled up receipt it turns out you still need. That’s why I’m still there, and will be until the app blows up and leaves me running for the Geocities webpage I made in honour of Empire Records in 2001: I need to use Twitter because that’s where work and friends are. Also, jokes. Which sucks for everybody, but is the cold, hard truth made even more bitter by the aftertaste of realizing that a truly uncool person is dangling our checks like it’s something that defines us. Would it be nice to know if an account was attached to a real person or company? Of course! But also: fuck off.
We’re not the same internet heathens we were when we played hashtag games and live-tweeted NBC musicals. Over the last few years, we’re older, much more tired, and aware that our addiction to social media has had dire effects on our brains. When we log on to Twitter in the year of our lord 2023, it’s not to see if we’ve made a splash with our quick take on two escaped capybaras (though I wish, my God, do I wish). Now, we log on because that’s where everything is. It’s the cafeteria in the mall you’re stuck eating in because you work there, and you don’t have enough time on your lunch break to drive back home. It’s soggy pizza you feel sick after eating, but it’s better than being hungry all afternoon.
It sucks, but it’s true. And truer still is that we’re all aware of this in the same way we’re aware that everything ends. Once upon a time, a blue check meant you were the person you were claiming to be, and it helped to know that the real Pizza Hut account was the one behind those DMs offering you a coupon. Was it a thirst quencher? For sure! All of us are thirsty bitches, and to get a blue check was like taking a wee sip. (The novelty wore off after like, a day, but alas.) Yet now, it’s being held over us as if we scored VIP wristbands. Nothing about Twitter is VIP. We’ve finally come to realize that, and I wouldn’t be upset if the current CEO understood that too.
But alas, he will not. And instead of doing anything remotely interesting or cool, he will lord blue checkmarks over us until we’re all dead. He will, despite our cries of “Please! Just take it! Take it all!” will emerge from his den to announce new dates and new programs and new ways of feeling special. And we will continue to eat the soggy pizza because some of us (hello) don’t have it together enough to pack our own lunch.
Though please, on the off-chance that he’s Googled his own name or the name of his company: take them. Take the checks. Lift this weight off our shoulders and free us from the confines of giving a shit. On a beautiful spring morning, I had to think about Twitter and whether or not I would have to read the term, “legacy account” again. Instead of going outside and getting the recycling bins, I am indoors, away from the sunshine, letting a social media website seep into my mind. So do away with them – let us live. Because you may take our blue checkmarks, but you will never take the type of desperation most of us feel to post the work we’ve done to a website referred to regularly as a dumpster fire.
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