@Dril talks on Musk and Twitter

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With over 1.7 million followers, Dril, known for his absurdist humor, is the kind of influencer that could only emerge on an app like Twitter.

Dril started his account in September 2008, just two years after Twitter launched, and as the platform grew, so did its impact. He’s become the face of what’s often referred to as “weird Twitter,” a broad and amorphous coalition of comedy accounts. Now, for many Twitter users, he serves as a canary in the coal mine. “If dril leaves Twitter there will be nothing left,” one user tweeted. “If @dril leaves Twitter, Twitter is basically dead even if it doesn’t actually die,” another She said.

For Dril, the chaos of Musk’s estate has been fun and he’s going to make it through. “Elon, he invented the Hyperloop,” Dril said in a rare interview, referring to Musk’s vision of underground high-speed transportation, which hasn’t been built yet. “I think Twitter will be just like that. It’s a work in progress, he’s building it from scratch. It will make it cuter, and they will use free speech to reduce the bull —- in daily life. I think at the end of the day it’s going to be a beautiful thing.

For those trying to predict the fate of Twitter, there’s probably no one more representative of a certain part of Twitter than Dril. His posts became memes and copypasta formats, he even appeared in a tweet predict the end of Twitter in 2022. Academics have dissected and analyzed her tweets. The A.V. Club, an online publication devoted to pop culture, declared Dril “the patron saint of the Internet itself” and “a rare meeting point and muse for all, regardless of affiliation or creed.”

Dril is a symbol of what many people loved about Twitter, before Musk. His account is strange and absurd, often profane, and he is the kind of creator unlikely to thrive elsewhere.

Twitter user Nick Farruggia recently carefully catalogued all posts by Dril. “Refuse to miss tweets from the best poster ever…there it is: every @dril tweet chronologically, active, and free forever,” he recently tweeted.

While Musk tries to bend Twitter to his vision, Dril is an example of the kind of power center he won’t be able to budge: established, popular, and indifferent.

“Dril and Elon are on opposite sides of the spectrum, when it comes to internet-based language,” said Jamie Cohen, assistant professor of media studies at CUNY Queens College, who once taught a course on a strange Twitter. “Dril is a member of the community, he was born of the internet, Elon just adopted it. If Elon is going to succeed and make this thing work, the person he has to win over the most is Dril and his community.

“Dril’s tweets are a basic foundational text for Twitter, they’re part of the structure of Twitter,” said Alex Turvy, a doctoral researcher at Tulane University who studies memes and digital culture. “He’s the godfather of Twitter and his tweets from him are a shared reference we can all turn to when talking to people online. He’s part of Twitter’s cultural memory.”

When reached by phone, Dril agreed to talk about the new era for a platform he helped shape, with the proviso that The Washington Post would only refer to him via his Twitter account, due to privacy concerns. It’s the kind of interview that should be read with a solid understanding of Dril’s role as a comedic entertainer, not to be taken too seriously.

The ups and downs of Twitter

So far, Dril said, he’s enjoying the spectacle of the Musk takeover. “Elon looks like a classic comic showman,” she said. “Everything he does is kind of comical. He’s always trying to have a laugh, that’s why he makes all his cars suicidal. Just watching it all burn, it’s fun, that’s for sure.

One thing he’s noticed since the Musk takeover is that his posts haven’t spread like they used to. On Fridays, Musk said that “negative/hate tweets” will be “depowered and demonetized,” effectively negating their ability to spread in a practice known as shadowbanning.

Dril said the negative post ban was already affecting his account. “It’s absurd what they’re doing to me,” she said. “My freedom of speech has been eradicated.” She expressed frustration with the lack of clarity on what constitutes a negative post. “Suppose a Tesla ran into my son and killed him,” she said, referring to one of Musk’s other activities. “Maybe I think it’s okay, it’s not bad that a Tesla ran over my son and killed him. That’s okay, because it’s a work in progress. Musk may not know whether a Tesla running over his son was actually very positive, Dril explained, and therefore shouldn’t be classified as a negative tweet.

However, he added, “Maybe I was just negative from the start. Maybe I have a negative attitude.”

Dril said he would be willing to work on Twitter himself if Musk asked. “I think it would be my duty to answer the call,” Dril said. “I absolutely would. I would have been his dog, I would have done his every bidding like a lousy dog. I’d beg his mercy and learn to code if he liked it.

While other users scramble to join Twitter’s replacements and find alternative ways to connect with friends online, Dril said he couldn’t find an app that would suit his needs as well. He has official Dril accounts on Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube, but posts very rarely. He also has his own website and a Patreon for fans willing to pay a few dollars a month to support him.

More up-and-coming apps confuse that. “I’d like to know what these apps are, because none of the apps I’ve used are any good,” he said. “They ask you for photos of your son, your father. They are practically unusable. They have Russian pop-up ads and malware. I’m not leaving Twitter anytime soon.”

Mastodon, the much-discussed haven for people fleeing Twitter, is too complicated, he says. “Which server am I connecting to?” she said, referring to Mastodon’s many server choices. “The good post server or the bad post server? I do not know. There is no guide, there is no blue bird you can click for help.

TikTok is out of the question because “I have a reprehensible face that won’t let me use any video-based apps,” he said.

Substack worries him. “With Substack, he’s right there in the name,” he said. “You are submitting. If you sign up for this, you are submissive to the internet’s content cabal.

One platform that’s open to exploration is the metaverse, a concept recently championed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Dril said the ability to interact with people in the metaverse without wearing pants appealed to him. “I’ll be the guy there and win whatever game Zuckerberg is trying to create,” he said.

Dril is also open to accepting deals from smaller platforms that could pay him to publish. “If any of the apps were any good or were run by people with more than three or four brain cells to put together, they would recognize the potential of my posts and offer me five or six hundred dollars to be the ambassador for their new platform, and I would bring with me all my followers,” he said. “I think they’d all be on board, no matter how… unusable the platform is. your money.

He’s disappointed that he apparently wouldn’t be able to monetize negative posts under Musk’s regime.

“It would be nice to get something in the mail every now and then for all the content that I’ve put my blood on the line for,” she said, “but you know, Elon is saying, ‘I’m demonetizing you if you have a nasty attitude.’ Sometimes I need to have a nasty attitude to keep myself safe in this world The Westworld show, that’s what it’s like out there.

“I was able to post without being threatened,” he said, “now I’m basically under the barrel of a gun 24/7 because people are constantly saying, ‘this joke was better when you said it in the 2014.’ I hope Elon cuts back on this sort of thing, because it’s just barbaric what people tell me.

While Musk’s proposed verification system, in which any user can pay $8 a month for a blue tick, has been linked to the spread of misinformation, Dril isn’t concerned. “People like me, we know the truth when we hear it,” he said. “It hits you in the heart. You feel it in your stomach. When someone lies, you can see them sweat. They look very shaggy and rat-like. But $8 is too heavy for him personally, so he said he’ll never pay for a tick.

Appreciate that Elon uses his personal Twitter account as the de facto communication channel for company news. “The reason it works so well,” Dril said, “is that if Elon wants to accuse some random guy of being a paedophile, he’s allowed to do that. … Everything is a streamlined approach with Elon, you don’t want bureaucratic red tape blocking the news cameras, you just want the straight laugh from the man himself.

When looking back on his 14+ years on Twitter, Dril said he has fond memories. She loved the day a man threatened to sue a cereal company because there were chunks of shrimp in the box, and she enjoyed it when someone called Garfield a slur and was thrown off the platform. She said one of her best moments on the app was when Dog the Bounty Hunter blocked it.

A low point for Dril was when Musk himself stole one of his posts on being enlisted in a war of skeletons And he claimed it as his own. “She posted the tweet verbatim and clipped my name completely,” Dril said. “Her girlfriend Grimes forgives this kind of behavior. She’s stealing my seats and she won’t even pay me. She’s threatening to demonetize me when she’s already capitalizing on my content and I’m not getting a dime.

If Twitter’s infrastructure fails and the platform fails forever, Dril said he’s at peace with it.

“I think it will be like a purifying fire,” he said. “The house I grew up in will burn down, and with it, all memories will disappear. I can start from scratch, clean slate. From there, I can try again and hopefully make an account that’s really good.”

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