“Which stage of capitalism is it when ordinary consumers beg a multinational corporation to insult them?” Slate asked its readers recently. The absolute best, I’d argue.
Unlike Slate, which literally instructs readers not to insult Slate in its comment policy, I’m rather fond of self-deprecating humor. But while I’d jump at the chance for Wendy’s to say I need some chicken tenders for my malnutritioned Ethiopian child-like physique, casual corporate bitchiness would really be best weaponized to slaughter social media censors.
How so? Well, along with these lip-smackingly delicious putdowns Wendy’s dispatched to random Twitter users on National Roast Day, serve yourself a helping of this saucy swipe the fast food giant took at McDonald’s:
So cold. And mind-numbingly effective, amassing nearly 50,000 likes and likely winning over more than a few mouths from Mickey D’s. The restaurant sprinkled some salt on that Mac-sized wound with several follow-up sallies, repurposing a troll tactic I call “shock and awe,” a digital Baghdad bombing using “spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.”
Indeed, McDonald’s did not retaliate.
But imagine if, instead of at the golden arches, Wendy’s had directed such a remorseless barrage at Twitter, perhaps something along the lines of “At Wendy’s, our potatoes come both fried and baked. But not so baked as whomever made Twitter’s code of conduct,” followed up by “Sure, our mascot’s a ginger. But by perpetually banning all of the best accounts, Twitter has become even more soulless and undesirable,” and then maybe like seven or eight more.
And frisky fast food titans like Wendy’s and KFC need not be our only crusaders against Twitter. Netflix has also provoked the ire of washed-up, humorless hipsters like Erik Sherman of Inc., who presumably curled up into a ball and cried before bashing the video streamer for this tweet:
To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017
I’d gladly forfeit a few inches on the digital privacy front to catch a peek at what’s playing inside Jack Dorsey’s $10 million coastal house in San Franpsycho. What is it, Jack? Do you watch Titanic for solace knowing your product is not the only once-great invention to get irredeemably shipwrecked? Does Jurassic Park make Instagram’s outpacing of Twitter by tenfold in additional monthly active users more stomachable, knowing that doomed dinosaurs can at least torment humans before vanishing into the dustbin of history? Or perhaps you’re simply watching Cuck.
Elite corporations like Netflix and Wendy’s share a couple of key things in common with banned Twitter users like classical liberal YouTuber Sargon of Akkad, conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, and, most recently, comedian Owen Benjamin: a healthy penchant for humour and a willingness to use that skill to boost their respective brands, sentiments that should make them natural allies in the fight against speech gatekeepers like Twitter.
But what distinguishes the corporations from the individuals? Apolitical legitimacy. Free speech is too important to be confined to hilarious but niche headlines like, “Twitter Bans Breitbart Firebrand After Brutal Ghostbusters Mocking.” These stories appeal only to a small demographic of partisan readers.
“Fast Food Giant Freaks Out After Twitter Suspension,” however, erases the stigma that gets so often and so unfairly attached to free speech issues these days and fully ushers the story into the mainstream.
Targeting consumers is extremely amusing, but progressive hand-wringers are always whining that corporations don’t do enough to help the environment. So why don’t particularly snarky and derisive corporations assuage these concerns by taking some time out of their days to purify the social media environment? Sling a few facetious tweets at Dorsey et al. The coastal hipsters aren’t aloof enough to ban Trump — likely fearing costly litigation and polarization of a large enough chunk of their user-base -- and a similar aversion would spare big-money corporations the banhammer.
Given the cooperation of enough corps, there are three foreseeable outcomes, listed below in no particular order:
* Twitter gets bludgeoned with banter over its arbitrary speech policies, bans some high-profile corporations, but relents after immense public backlash and revises its code of conduct to eliminate subjective harassment/“hate speech” provisions.
* Twitter doesn’t stop banning high-profile users, loses millions of monthly active users, and fades into obscurity.
* Twitter doesn’t stop banning high-profile users and the Based, Trump-Era FCC steps in to regulate Twitter as a public utility.
From banning Roger Stone over foul words but ignoring ESPN anti-Trumper Keith Olbermann’s potty mouth to banning anti-SJW satirist Godfrey Elfwick but leaving up the “Kill Fascists” account inciting violence against “fascists,” rank hypocrisy drips from Twitter’s every move. It is high time the little blue bird of social media had its wings clipped. Former University of Toronto professor Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message,” but sometimes the medium deserves to be the martyr.