For a few moments last night, Twitter was, blissfully, free from the musings of the blue check brigade.
If you don't know what this club is you're rather fortunate as the blue check brigade is the gaggle of people you're to believe are more important than you, as evidenced by the small blue checkmarks that appear beside their Twitter handles.
A confession: I am a member of the club insofar as I have a checkmark, as does my gracious host Mark Steyn. Though philosophically I'm relieved to be on the outside of this in-crowd.
Blue-checked accounts were locked down by Twitter Wednesday night after a mass Twitter hack saw numerous high-profile accounts, including those of presidential candidate Kanye West, former president Barack Obama, and man-who-may-or-may-not-know-he's-running-for-president Joe Biden, tweet out a bitcoin scam.
Twitter froze these accounts before any more fell victim to the hack, but it wasn't long after that the antsy Twitteratti started posting from exile on non-checked backup accounts, seemingly unable to go even a couple of hours without the world knowing their thoughts.
In their absence the normally insufferable Twitter was a more authentic place as regular folks, for once, got to set the narrative.
The blue-checkers' greatest fear was realized – that the world kept spinning in their absence.
While the checkmark may seem – and ultimately is – laughably insignificant, it's the symptom of a bigger problem and the cause of another.
Twitter's stated purpose for blue checkmarks is to demonstrate an "account of public interest is authentic." Those in the media (who comprise the bulk of blue-check holders) tend to view a checkmark not as a symbol of authenticity but rather of ascension to some higher moral or intellectual stratum.
Perhaps the great Blue Check Lockdown of 2020 was a cosmic penance for the collective self-righteousness of the group – we may never know.
Coming in the middle of this year's unending mass cancelation, it was, I'd say, a welcome episode to see the elites who find perspectives other than their own repugnant forced to sit on their hands, even if only for a short time.
The great irony of Twitter's response was that in seeking to protect the integrity of high-profile accounts by locking them down, it amplified the voices of people with large audiences that Twitter has, for petty partisan reasons, denied its coveted "verified" status to.
"Be gone blue checks. Your validation is nothing more than an email address from a fake news institution," one such unverified tweeter, Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, wrote. "We are the media now."
Short-lived as the celebration was, it was nice to break through the echo chamber.
When I first got my blue checkmark I learned of an unadvertised feature on Twitter allowing me to filter my feed to read only tweets from other people with checkmarks. With the click of a button, I could wipe out any conversations emanating from the regular old plebs who are the Twitter version of flyover country.
In doing this, I can concoct and curate a reality in which I only engage with people like me because those are the only people I see.
This feature on one of the world's largest social media platforms is designed to make ordinary people invisible to those sitting in their virtual ivory towers, perhaps singing that old tune from Camelot.
I know what my people are thinking tonight
As home through the shadows they wander
Everyone smiling in secret delight
They stare at the castle and ponder
Whenever the wind blows this way
You can almost hear everyone say
I wonder what the king is doing tonight?
If you can concoct a reality for yourself wherein ordinary people don't cross your radar, what incentive is there for you to entertain them, let alone understand them.
And while there are those who deliberately wall off the world around them, there are others unaware there even is a world – or worldview, rather – outside their own.
Columnist Salena Zito tried to break through this by taking her Harvard students on a road trip to a town that while only an hour and a half away was, culturally, on another planet.
After spending time with the police chief, the mayor, small business owners and other townsfolk the students were forced to reckon with the fact that they had just broken bread with – gasp – Trump voters. Most of them had never seen one up close, and certainly hadn't recognized them as anything other than a caricature.
It's why the graduates who populate most newsrooms are so woefully unequipped to write about national trends when a majority are from liberal, coastal states and have never seen a farm, fired a gun or stepped foot on a factory floor.
The state broadcaster in my very own deranged dominion of Canada was busted (by me) a few weeks back for broadcasting a children's "news" segment calling J.K. Rowling "transphobic" for daring to suggest only women are capable of menstruation.
The network later said the segment didn't meet its journalistic standards (that CBC has standards is, in and of itself, newsworthy.) I don't doubt that there were producers and writers from downtown Toronto who were genuinely shocked that anyone could possibly believe what Rowling did.
The answer to the divide is dialogue and debate. The answer is to engage with the culture rather than run away from it. The answer is to keep fighting. But in spite of that, I won't deny that it was nice, for a couple of hours this week, to see the silencers silenced.
If whether you're checked or unchecked, such as it is, Mark Steyn Club members can feel free to weigh in to let Andrew know what they think in the comments. If you aren't yet a member all the information you need is here. Mark Steyn Cruisers will remember Andrew as our cruise master of ceremonies and panelist. We're set to sail once again next year along the Mediterranean, so do check out the details here if you'd like to book a cabin.
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