Hello! My name is Kevin Munger, and I’m delighted to have gotten the call up to the blogging big leagues. I’ve been blogging since the beginning of the pandemic at Never Met a Science, a combination of meta-science (get it) and media theory that I intend to continue here.

Crooked Timber has been around for longer than Twitter, and it looks like that which has burnt brightest will burn shortest. 

Twitter’s spectacular conflagration, the wildfire currently burning through some of the dead wood of the digital media ecosystem, both entrances and illuminates. The fantastic release of energy produces pyrrhic phantasms, full of soot and fury…and while the catharsis and camaraderie of the bonfire are not to be taken lightly, we shouldn’t assign any meaning to the random sparks. Breathless attention to what Trump did every day in 2017 was understandable (if ineffective); breathless attention to what Musk does every day in 2022 is embarrassing.

I have been extremely critical of Twitter’s impact on intellectual life, yet I am not pleased to see so many academic colleagues “leaving” Twitter because a Bad Man is now in charge. This isn’t just hipster churlishness; being critical of a bad thing for the wrong reasons can be pernicious. The implication of the current critique is that if the Bad Man were removed, Twitter would be ok.

This wishful thinking has been the opiate of the academic/media/liberal professional class for the past six years, ever since the Great Weirding of 2016. The high water mark of any trend is of course the beginning of its decline, as evidenced by the fumbling of the Obama-Clinton Presidential handoff. This class–my class–has been adrift ever since, disoriented by the reality of contemporary communication technology. Rather than confront the depth of the challenge to the foundations of liberal democracy, we are sold crisis after crisis with the promise that solving this one will bring us back to “normal.”

To be clear: the crises are real. It’s the normalcy that’s fake: “Boomer Ballast” (the central argument of my recent book) has unnaturally preserved the façade of postwar America even as the technosocial reality shifts under our feet. I fear that ours is not an age for “normal science” in the social sciences, where ceteris is sufficiently paribus to engineer marginal gains. 
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