The Long Goodbye
Well, here at last, dear friends, on this page of the internet comes the end of our fellowship in Twiddle-earth
The goodbyes began immediately. As soon as word broke of Elon Musk's offer to purchase Twitter, the farewells to the dumpster fire of an app we love to hate started to pour in. Even the joking goodbyes (of which there was no short supply) such as the below Frodo and Sam exchange, contained within them a glimmer of truth and hint of a real feeling of impending loss.
Musk's official purchase of the app turned the steady flow into a cascade of genuine goodbyes. In the ensuing chaotic weeks a veritable diaspora has set out to find a replacement for the irreplaceable bird app (this newsletter is itself an example of that).
But many of us have hung around, opening the twitter app each morning wondering if that day was The End like Evangelicals in the 90s coming home wondering if they’ll find an empty house because they’ve been Left Behind.
As goodbye followed goodbye…followed goodbye…followed goodbye, I found myself reminded of the end(s) of a familiar story:
A full week later, the same comparison seems even more apt:
For some reason, the many endings of Return of the King seem particularly fertile ground for memes about the (non)end of twitter. Just a couple more examples that I saw or made:
But of all the endings to Return of the King, one in particular seems to have some resonance with the current twitter situation.
After the Ring is destroyed, Frodo and Sam crawl out from the fires of Mount Doom to the slopes of Mount Doom. Lava threatens to engulf them, but three eagles appear in the sky and scoop up the heroic hobbits. In a mirror to the scene where he wakes in Rivendell to find Gandalf the Grey waiting by his bedside, Frodo wakes to find Gandalf waiting by his bedside once again.
“Gandalf?” he asks in disbelief. The last time he saw Gandalf the wizard was plummeting down into the depths of Khazad-dûm to certain death after imploring them to “Fly, you fools!” And now Gandalf is not only alive but transformed into Gandalf the White. They both laugh before the rest of the Fellowship trickles into the room: Merry and Pippin, then Gimli, Legolas (who still remains silent after his only words to Frodo “you have my bow” way back in Fellowship), Aragorn, and finally Sam.
The Fellowship is reunited and, far from failing as Gimli lamented on the shores of Nen Hithoel, they have succeeded in their quest. The One Ring is destroyed, they are together again (minus Boromir, RIP), and Middle-earth is saved.
Isn’t this what we long for should the bird app erupt in the style of mount doom? To wake on Substack or Mastodon or Discord and find the rest of our fellowship of mutuals waiting there for us, welcoming us into a world rid of its Dark Lord that is brimming with hope and possibility, bathed in a soft heavenly white light and filled with laughter?
What many (myself included) realized was one of the main things they will miss should the Blue Lady go under is the relationships they forged and the community they found. Maybe the real twitter really IS all the friends we made along the way.
To push this a step further, isn’t this desire for connection and longing for what we have lost or feel we will soon loose to be restored a faint echo of a transcendent and—might I even suggest—eternal longing we all at one point or another have felt? The mysterious certainty that loss isn’t the way things were truly meant to be. That when the ultimate loss of connection—death—comes, it’s only right that it should somehow, someway be restored to us.
That we will one day wake, much like Frodo, surrounded by the family and friends we've lost in a healed world where the True King has returned to rule his kingdom.
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