The Most Pointless Twitter Discourses Of 2022

Honestly, I don’t care if you’re a nepo baby.

by Moya Lothian-McLean

21 December 2022

Elon Musk Twitter account on smartphone and Twitter logo in background.
It’s been a heady year for Twitter chat. Image/Reuters

Believe me, I would love to stop writing about Twitter. Hopefully over the Christmas period, a large wormhole will open up in San Francisco, hoovering up the bird app HQ. Until then, all I can do is reflect on a year where the social media platform went from providing a home for farcical discourse to being the subject of it. This was thanks to Elon Musk, whose $44bn takeover of the site has resulted in increasingly tiresome and daffy new changes, reported diligently by press and Twitter users alike, in a regular Clown Daily bulletin.  

Sadly, Apartheid Clyde’s purchase of the social media platform has underscored how dependent people who shape our society (including journalists like me) are on it. It’s thrown up big questions, like: “Why can’t we log off?” and “Is it bad that a majority of conversation creators and policy makers are locked into daily aggressive – yet ultimately meaningless – exchanges, the results of which are then cascaded through traditional media and political institutions as if they are representative of the general concerns of the wider public?” And also: “No, really, why can’t we log off?”

In the spirit of that, please do join me in the mud. In the spirit of needless content, I have collected three Twitter furores that resisted banishment to the refuse bin of my mind. Without further ado: my top pointless Twitter Discourses of 2022. 

Jorts the Cat is ableist.

What’s the background? 

Jorts, as the subhead suggests, is a cat. Or rather, he is purported to be a cat. Honestly, we don’t really know if he exists or not in the real world – only that a year ago, a post on Reddit’s ‘Am I The Asshole?’ forum went viral, detailing a long story about Jorts and some whacky workplace shenanigans involving margarine. The entire quirky escapade smacks highly of fellow fictional Twitter character RS Archer but what do I know!

Off the back of Reddit fame, a Jorts Twitter account was launched, quickly revealing this iteration of Jorts to be highly pro-industrial organising. The heady mix of anthropomorphised animal and union content was too much to resist: Jorts became a Twitter hero.

What was the discourse? 

In October, a Twitter user, posting from the handle @queenveej, shared a complaint about a grocery delivery service.

“My last time using grocery delivery,” they wrote. “I got a man, he started refunding stuff that I knew dang on well the store had. I was so pissed I got in the car and went to the store he was at, bruh was literally standing in one aisle on the phone.” 

To which the Jorts account replied: “Idea: Go Get your own groceries.”

Unfortunately some who saw this decided such a statement was an erasure of the sort of people who rely on grocery delivery services, i.e carers or disabled people. Jorts valiantly attempted to point out that it was unlikely these demographics would be hopping into their car to chase down a service worker, but it was too late. The narrative was written: grocery apps that don’t pay workers a living wage, but rely on the consumer to top up their income via tips, were good. Jorts the cat was ableist

Why was this a pointless discourse of 2022? 

Jorts the cat being ableist comprises essentially everything that makes discourse on sites like Twitter both so hysterical and flat. A person posing as a cat on social media becomes a leftwing sensation (as much as anything can be a sensation on a site made up of siloed bubbles) until they suggest that privately-owned courier apps are a business model antithetical to fair working conditions and pay. 

The logic of Twitter is frequently as follows: the system is bad, but things are morally good if they make life easier for me. Underpinning most discourse is an acute paranoia regarding one’s moral status, which becomes synonymous with how much systemic oppression one faces, as if we cannot understand an oppressed individual is capable of being – like any other person! – a massive dickhead while still retaining an understanding that they face societal marginalisation. Anyway: Jorts is cat and he’s ableist, next. 

Anne Frank had white privilege. 

What’s the background?

Anne Frank was a German Jewish girl who famously hid in a secret annex in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam for two years during the second world war. She died in Bergen-Belsen aged 15 in 1945.

What was the discourse? 

That Frank’s access to the annex was, in part, due to ‘white privilege’. I will say no more.

Why was this top pointless discourse of 2022? 

The “Anne Frank had white privilege” discourse was a crash course in how social media allows a completely ridiculous statement, probably issued by a 14-year-old, to be taken at face value and treated with the same sincere consideration as, say, a non-ridiculous statement penned by someone who is not 14. 

We could unpick why white privilege is a limiting interpersonal framework for understanding both how race fluctuates depending on context. But it feels trite to do so in response to something as unserious as “Anne Frank had white privilege”. In 2023, wouldn’t it be swell to pick battles actually worth engaging in? But then I’d probably be down several paychecks.  

Nepo babies.

What’s the background?

Famous people have children. Those children often follow their parents into fame. 

What was the discourse? 

A particular branch of discussion about nepotism and elitism that has been 2022’s long-running discursive arc, culminating in a December New York Magazine cover dedicated to the nepo baby. This discourse focuses specifically on nepotism within entertainment industries and asks: “Why are so many famous children of famous parents populating the likes of Hollywood?”

Why was this top pointless discourse of 2022? 

It ran for literally the whole year and every time the discourse died down, a nepo baby would be asked about how they deal with the fact their mum is Heidi Klum and Twitter  would hear about it and the entire machine would crank up again. 

It seems quite obvious that yes, it is bad and unfair that the children of the rich and famous get an automatic leg up into industries impenetrable for many others. It also seems a given that if they’re good at their work, there is likely to be less resentment about their good fortune than, for example, greets Brooklyn Beckham’s photography offerings. What else is there to say?And yet, this discourse ran for 12 calendar months.

The reason was that it was easy to tune in and out of, allowing resentment to be expressed on the fly while also doing little to change the fortunes of the Lottie Mosses of this world. Remember: it’s not a discourse™ if it actually achieves any material result beyond riling up all involved and reminding people Lily Allen exists

Moya Lothian-McLean is a contributing editor at Novara Media.

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