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What will happen to memes if Twitter implodes?

In the wake of a mass resignation by employees that sent the social media company into turmoil, many users were left wondering where they will get their daily dose of humor if the app closes down entirely

A woman looks at a Twitter meme on a cellphone.
A woman looks at a Twitter meme on a cellphone.PACO PUENTES

“If Twitter shuts down, where will we laugh when World War III breaks out?” my friend U. asked me early Wednesday morning after sending me several memes that were posted after a missile hit Poland. We were talking about how when things go wrong, people take shelter in humor.

On this social network, which is sometimes useful for accessing information, although there are days when it is filled with apocalyptic messages that have not been fact-checked, many users took it for granted – based on the first available information – that the missile that exploded in Polish territory had been launched by Moscow and that NATO, invoking Article 5 of its Treaty, would respond with an attack on Russia because it would be an aggression against a member of the Alliance.

That would have meant a serious escalation that could only lead to WWIII, which has been a trending topic on and off ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It is already the fourth time so far in 2022 that we are at the gates of a third world war. Please stop now,” a user named @EasternTankie tweeted. So yes, let’s all calm down. Fortunately, things don’t work that way, although some believe it does. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the explosion was likely caused by Ukraine’s anti-aircraft system.

But my friend’s question was relevant for several reasons: first, because she is my official provider of memes, and also because just a few days earlier, a user named Mike Sington tweeted that a professor at New York University had predicted Twitter would collapse during the following week.

The replies to Sington’s tweet were not long coming: “And couldn’t it be sooner?”; “And what am I supposed to do now at work?”; “Can’t it wait until after the World Cup, please?” A user named @BruiserK brought up an earlier post where @JustynTyme said: “Twitter really gives off a ‘just hit the iceberg but we haven’t sunk yet so what the hell’ vibe these days.” Other people directly tweeted a GIF of the orchestra on the Titanic.

Every time Elon Musk opens his mouth (or tweets), the social media company trembles. On Friday, November 4, the new owner of Twitter fired half the staff by email – some employees found out because they could no longer access the company’s remote system –, the following Monday he asked some of the fired employees to return (perhaps realizing that it is not possible to run a company without workers), and most recently he has stated that he wants employees to work in a way that will “need to be extremely hardcore,” as shared by @GergelyOrosz. The employees had until 5pm ET to respond in the affirmative or get fired. The note ended with “whatever you decide, thank you for your efforts to make Twitter successful,” which sounds like code for you’re going to be fired if you don’t want to work 13-hour days. Long live slavery.

If Twitter collapses because workers want labor rights and do not wish to be exploited, where are we going to get the memes from? What if another world war breaks out? “Honestly, I’m sick of living on the edge of the Apocalypse. When it’s not the economic crisis, it’s climate change, or the pandemic, or World War III. Catastrophe is making us depressed, anxious, ill and addicted to evasion through screens and alcohol,” tweeted @erinacevs.

We want rights, we want to live our lives, we want to laugh, and we also want social media. We complain about everything.

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