From the moment Elon Musk took over the reins of social media platform Twitter, chaos seemed to engulf the site. But even on November 17, when the farewell tweets were flying and users feared the site would implode, Black Twitter was still Black Twittering.
And that’s exactly what Black Twitter is doing, he says Arionne nettlesLecturer and Director of the Audio Journalism Program at Northwestern University.
“It’s always really scary when something you love is about to end, but like Black Twitter, you can’t get too excited because it just means the jokes get harder, right? That’s literally what Black Twitter is for,” Nettles said. “There isn’t a tragedy that can’t be turned into comedy and turned around, and I think that really reflects what we do culturally, which is we get away with the joke – and on Thursday night we had a lot of those jokes.” “
Exavier PopeAttorney, ESPN Las Vegas contributor and SuitUP News anchor, echoed Nettles’ assessment.
“I think that’s the nature of Black Twitter, it’s being able to kind of grill out loud — because you know what? We’re on social media, people still can’t get the jokes, but we, so it’s been really great to share that with the world and be able to impact culture with it,” Pope said. “To see that possibly go away, but we’re turning into something fun, so that’s how we do it.”
But Black Twitter isn’t just saying jokes CityCast Chicago host Jacoby Cochran.
“I looked for collective grief on Twitter where we watched as our brothers and sisters were gunned down in the middle of the street,” Cochran said. “I’ve also watched Twitter, especially Black Twitter, do things like World War III, the potential for nuclear war, and funny jokes with SpongeBob memes, so that’s the reach for me.”
And that’s why one of the most memorable black Twitter experiences for him was on January 6, 2021.
“While so many people, I think, are wringing their hands and saying, ‘Our country isn’t like that, that’s not us, who are we?’ I felt like I was standing on my porch with a bunch of my friends, my family members, my cousins, and I was just pointing across the street like, ‘Oh my god, do you see these people?'” said Cochran. “It was in that moment that it was, look how much time you put into denigrating us, oppressing us and look at this power you created underneath it all. I just felt like we had a lot of fun laughing about it since so many people have lost their minds in one of two directions, either in total ignorance or in naivety.”
Nettles says it’s also a cultural touchstone that she often turns to in her work.
“There are literally times when I’m working on research and can’t remember the article I’m talking about, but I do remember the Twitter discussion surrounding it,” Nettles said. “So I go back to Twitter and look it up … and that’s just so unique because we’re just having these conversations here and it’s really an archive, a history, a library of all that information.”
Pope streams his show “SuitUP” on Twitter, a place he says helped him get his content out there and has been working well for him ever since.
“It’s a place where I’ve been able to say things that go viral quite often, and [have] Articles were written about things I Tweeted about, so I worked to make SuitUP News out of them,” Pope said. “And so I’ve used this platform and I’ve been able to touch, inform, inspire and also entertain people, especially when I’m talking about carrot cake. It’s become a thing in the last two and a half years. I hate it. It’s disgusting. It’s supposed to be objective in society, but people seem to embrace it and we talk about it every day.”
So, if Twitter disappears, where do former black Twitter users go?
“So many other social media platforms have tried to replicate the virality of Twitter… but none of them quite captured that feeling of being in the public square and talking to Cicero. I’m not sure anyone will be able to dominate this particular space in the same way,” Cochran said. “We’ll find each other, we always have… we’ve evolved and we’ve figured it out.”