Elon’s Modern Day Tower of Babel Event

So Elon bought Twitter this week, fired most of the staff (except the people who have been writing the most lines of code, and if you work in software engineering you know what a genius idea that is), alienated a bunch of potential 2023 advertisers, and then alienated them more by threatening to publicly shame them.

It reminds me of the Tower of Babel story, where ancient leader Nimrod (according to Jewish-Roman history) decided to build a tower so big that it would reach all the way to God. (How big? About 3x the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which is pretty big at 2722 ft, just over half a mile tall.) Apparently God didn’t like that, so he decided to bust up the party by making people unintelligible to each other.

A literal Tower of Twitter. Image Source: https://sf.curbed.com/2020/5/13/21256351/twitter-building-headquarters-work-home-employees-sf

According to the mythology (which actually appears in many traditions), the reason God made the decision to magically and instantaneously create several languages was that the people were getting too powerful. Because they could communicate and coordinate, they were relying on each other to accomplish great feats (namely: building a giant tower) rather than putting their faith in their deity to help them overcome differences and achieve unity.

It’s pretty easy to see what role Twitter (powered by its Translate Tweet button) and Mastodon are playing.

The only thing I’d love to know is… in this modern drama of social media evolution, who’s playing God?

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