Serial Novel “The Sorrows” - November 6

Kensington for the weekdays and Lechdale for the weekends sounds like a perfect plan.

Proof that despite your endless promises you’ll never retire. Perhaps you missed your calling. You should have skipped the illustrious career in PR and become a politician. Always saying one thing and doing another.

Surely you were joking about Elon Musk and Twitter. You’d never sack half the workforce at the firm? Or would you? Surely you’d have a touch more grace than firing them with a generic email and locking them out of their offices. Nothing says power to the people like mass job cuts, eh.

Funny to watch Elon twist himself into knots as he sets the whole network on fire. Blaming imaginary activists for turning advertisers against him, against the platform.

Free speech cuts both ways. If advertisers don’t want to be associated with unmoderated hate tweets from deranged racists, they’re simply exercising the exact free speech rights that Elon so vocally promotes.

You’ve obviously put all client Twitter advertising on hold. What else can you do? Of course it’s fun to watch an erratic ultra-rich loudmouth narcissist spiral out of control. But there’s no need to pay him for the pleasure.

It’s like watching one of his SpaceX launches where the rocket achieves liftoff and then skitters out of control midair and explodes in a giant fireball of high-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen.

We’re on the bleeding edge of history. The future of social apps is likely to be smaller and more focused. That will require a different business model. Advertising won’t be the dominant business model because it creates too much friction 

Elon is trapped by his own foolish decision-making. He has to do something that has plagued every single social media product - monetisation.

Charging users $8 a month for the blue verification checkmark sounds logical and looks good on a spreadsheet. Not so much in real life.

Twitter currently has 420,000 verified users. If every single one pays $8 a month, that’s only $40 million a year. Which doesn’t even make a dint in his $1 billion annual interest payment on the money he borrowed. An interest payment that’s ballooning by the minute.

Elon can’t run a business or make money without hefty government contracts and rebates. Maybe he’ll reach out to governments to underwrite his public square. Or tap his investors for more cash.

Do you know who the second largest investor in Twitter is? Saudi Arabia. The bone saw-loving kingdom that just sentenced a 72-year-old American man to 16 years in jail for his tweets.

Elon doesn’t realise that Twitter’s problems aren’t engineering problems, they’re political problems.

Did you see Qatar had some blowback on their World Cup fan program? They offered football fans free flights, free tickets to matches, free accommodation and even free spending money. There’s just one catch - they have to spy on other fans.

They have to report any tweets and social media posts by fans critical of Qatar. It’s part of their agreement. This is what happens when you let government lawyers run PR.

Hopefully someone who wasn’t bribed by free flights can use their free speech to tweet the names of each of the 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who have died in Qatar building the stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup.

Qatar throws journalists in jail, treats LGBTQ+ people as criminals. Women need to ask men permission to study, marry and travel.

Welcome to the autocracy. With a dash of sportswashing to direct attention away from all the human rights abuses and corruption scandals.

I trust you’re not going to the United Nations COP27 climate summit. They’ll be more than enough leaders flying in for the opening days. Boris is going to be gallivanting about.

I wonder how many private jets will be parked on the runways. Hopefully not as many as Davos.

All that pomp and piety before the real negotiations start in the back rooms. All the argy-bargy, all the pushing and shoving, all the threatening and reckoning.

At least there won’t be any environmental activists around. Egypt’s National Security Agency will make sure of that.

Thanks for sending through the latest Climate Outreach report on young adults in Europe. Nice use of the phrase ‘climate justice’.

Stunning to see how scared the young are of existing power structures. Only one in ten admitted they would be prepared to break the law to tackle climate change. Perhaps they’re keeping their powder dry.

Although they admit the status quo isn’t working and want to see big changes but feel powerless to bring this about. And they don’t believe government is capable of doing what’s needed to combat environmental problems.

Why young people haven’t stormed every parliament in every European capital instead of glueing themselves to paintings is beyond me. Perhaps the future doesn’t belong to the young after all. Hopefully it doesn’t belong to Elon.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m having second thoughts about buying a Tesla.


Thank you for reading this chapter of “The Sorrows”, an experimental serial novel about the end of the world written in real-time by Stefano Boscutti. Subscribe now to receive new chapters for free via email.

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