In a culture unused to swift and draconian American layoff practises, it came as a devastating blow. UK workers at Twitter awoke early Friday morning to discover that their Mac Computers wouldn’t boot. Their Macs had been remotely wiped of data. Others who were logged onto their laptop and Slack platforms at the time had been remotely booted. They were part of a worldwide, 3,700 employee layoff by the Twitter head office. They had, in short, been cruelly and summarily sacked, Elon Musk style.
It was a case of shooting first and asking questions later. Workers did finally receive an email on their private mail servers (remember: their company accounts had been wiped) informing them of the layoff in an email ironically titled, “Your role at Twitter.” Spoiler alert: their role at Twitter was they had no role at Twitter.
Former employee Chris Younie, who worked for Twitter in entertainment partnerships, tweeted: “Well this isn’t looking promising. Can’t log into emails. Mac won’t turn on. But so grateful this is happening at 3am. Really appreciate the thoughtfulness on the timing front guys…”
In imitation of Donald Trump’s infamous catchphrase from “The Apprentice,” Musk told 3,700 employees, “You’re fired!” It was unnecessarily cruel and cowardly, and serves to demonstrate further just how completely out of touch Elon Musk is with normal human behaviour and how he looks to the rest of us. So tone deaf was this move to his personal image, if I didn’t know better I would think he was running for high office as a Republican candidate.
Musk’s layoff move was shockingly popular with MAGA Republicans beginning with Donald Trump Jr, who has never had a real job in his life, and who cruelly tweeted “Hey Twitter ex employees… Found some jobs for ya.” The comment captioned a loop video showing mud-caked oil derrick workers struggling to fit a drill head, with a further caption, “There are plenty of six-figure jobs right now.”
Needless to say, Junior’s tweet was not popular with many who commented on his tweet. Many mocked him for coasting through life on his infamous father’s inherited and stolen money. This heartless and unnecessary tweet could have a happy ending, however. Wouldn’t it be nice if they finally find Donald Trump Jr a real job — in the prison laundry?
The sad news is, Twitter used to be a great place to work. Employees were close, upbeat and happy, referring to each other with the portmanteau of “Tweeps,” that is, Twitter people. The expression also applies to everyone else on Twitter. So I guess that includes me. So I stand in solidarity with my Tweeps formerly at Twitter. I stand very much against Elon Musk and his vile, conspiracy-theory mongering, totalitarian ways.
The good news is a class-action suit was swiftly filed by former Twitter employees in San Francisco against Musk and his ruthless layoff practices. It could prove a stern and expensive lesson for Elon Musk. He obviously hasn’t learned anything from his secret hero Donald Trump: being a total jerk can sometimes be both expensive and time consuming.
By the way, as far as my Twitter account goes, I’m staying (@RAHarrington). I would encourage you all to stay as well. Let’s stand together against tyranny and unfair business practices. Deleting your account will mean the bad guys increase in proportion. If Musk is going to get rid of us he should have to pull the trigger himself. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.