An insightful exchange about healthier “social media”

Gail is Gail Collins. Bret is Bret Stephens. They write for the New York Times. As the Gray Lady styles it:

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every week.

Gail: Lord help us. Even if Twitter tanked, wouldn’t there be some new post-Twitter communications system coming around the bend soon? You’re 10 times smarter than me about this stuff, so tell me what you think, and I’ll adopt it as my theory. At least for the spring.

Bret: Maybe in the distant future a big media company will create a platform in which non-unhinged adults can exchange ideas, air their disagreements without rancor, make a few jokes, have their claims fact-checked before they are published and then go out for a friendly drink.

I’m sympathetic to the idea that social-media companies should try to honor the spirit of the First Amendment, even if they aren’t legally bound by it. But the idea that Twitter is a good forum for speech is silly. Trying to communicate a thought in 280 characters isn’t speaking. It’s blurting. You don’t use Twitter for persuasion. You use it for insults and virtue signaling.

A healthy free-speech environment depends on people talking with each other. Twitter is a medium for people to talk at others. The best thing that could happen to Twitter isn’t an acquisition, by Musk or anyone else. It’s bankruptcy.

Gail: Wow, I’ve always pretty much avoided Twitter, but it was mainly out of laziness. Now I’m cloaked in righteousness and am deferring to you on all Twitter topics.

This Is Not the Year of the Optimist

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