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A Bee and $44 Billion Dollars
There is no weirder and larger verifiable proof that small actions can result in oversize consequences. This is an actual sighting of an Unintended Consequence in the wild.
We have talked frequently about small actions that result in oversize consequences that nobody could have foreseen. There is no better, weirder, and larger proof of this than the Story of the Bee and the $44 Billion Dollars. This triggering event (which many never even heard of) will ripple outwards with unknown consequences throughout the Multiverse for decades to come.
No one can predict what the results of all this might be or how this could impact the future of politics and our society. But what we can predict is that it will be interesting and exciting. And apparently for some… horrifying and world shattering.
All because of a Bee… the Babylon Bee to be exact.
No Parody, Man!
For anyone who may not be aware of it, the Babylon Bee (https://babylonbee.com) is a conservative satire site that claims it was “…created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812.” [It’s okay, I had to look up “ex nihilo” myself.]
Them’s pretty haughty words for a website that most people have never heard. But that’s okay. Those of us who regularly read the Babylon Bee joyfully and gleefully consume every word they write and every video they produce - knowing full well that they are all tall tales, flavored with just enough truth to make them tasty and delicious. Throw in a dash of satire, a pinch of parody, and just a hint of irreverence for everyone and everything and you’ve got the perfect dish.
CAUTION: You MUST actually have a sense of humor to enjoy the Babylon Bee.
So where does the “Bee” come into play in this wild, world-shaping event? And what do they have to do with $44 Billion Dollars?
I’m glad you asked! I was getting worried I had exceeded your attention span.
When is Satire NOT Satire?
For anyone WITH a sense of humor, it is easy to understand that what the Babylon Bee produces is satire, or parody, or comedy, or just plain for-the-heck-of-it entertainment meant to poke fun at the world around us.
Sadly, I do have to report that much of society has lost its sense of humor. The world around us seems to be strained through a political, social, or no-fun-allowed (NFA) filter.
This seemed to be the case when Twitter suspended Babylon Bee’s Twitter account for a satirical post after they awarded 4-Star Admiral Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (phew… try to get that on a business card) the title of “Man of the Year.”
This was in reaction to the USA Today naming Rachel Levine (formerly Richard Leland Levine) as its first “Woman of the Year”.
Whether you agree or not that this is satire, or parody, or funny is irrelevant. The point of this whole protracted tale is that the suspension of Babylon Bee over this single tweet is the “butterfly flapping its wings on the other side of the world” event that drove today’s Unintended Consequence!
The $44 Billion Dollar Tweet
I imagine you have guessed by now what the Unintended Consequence of this single tweet was. Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 Billion dollars and will potentially alter the focus of the Town Square around the world for decades to come.
Quite a hefty outcome for such a benign event as a single tweet.
“But, David,” you might rightfully ask, “how in the heck do you have the audacity to think you can trace this historic purchase of a social media giant back to a single, little parody tweet?”
THAT is the fun of “The Art of Unintended Consequences” and why I write these tales of glory and adventure. The art is in the STORY behind the events that makes it interesting.
I do NOT claim to know the mind of Elon Musk (who does?). Honestly, I have become a fan of Elon in recent years for the daring and boldness of his magnificent business ventures. But this one did initially throw me for a loop. Twitter is not something new and shiny that he could birth into life as he usually does. Twitter is old. It is something that someone else birthed. And it is broken.
This is not an Elon-like venture. Something else was at play here. But what?
To qualify today’s tale, I made a few assumptions based on news reporting from many outlets and endless commentary found on the Irrationet (Irrational Internet). Some sources were reliable and some were… well… maybe not as reliable. Dare I even say they might have been… “misinformation” or “fake news”?
But I feel I was able to cull through the littered wasteland enough to confidently declare this an actual sighting of an “Unintended Consequence”.
Bee = Butterfly = Billions
Elon has been a critic of censorship in social media for a long time. There is plenty of evidence to support that. But there was no apparent inclination to spend a large chunk of his vast fortune to go to battle over it. He just loved free speech like the rest of us with a sense of humor. (And you have to admit that Elon has a piercing and often playful sense of humor.)
Being the richest man on planet earth, he could have done as most billionaires do and tried to buy a few elections. He could have even tried to fund a campaign for a Congressional seat for himself. But he didn’t.
I doubt Elon could ever be satisfied as just another cog in ANY organization, even one as large, convoluted, and powerful as Congress. Although, if he had chosen to buy himself a seat as a Senator, he could have become a very wealthy man. Oh… Wait…
He may not have realized it during this time, but he had bigger, bolder things in store than a menial Congressional seat. THAT sounds more like Elon.
Don’t worry, I’m almost there…
The Babylon Bee’s Twitter account was suspended on March 22, 2022. Twitter told them it could be restored in 12 hours if they just deleted the tweet. Seth Dillon, CEO of Babylon Bee, told Twitter to GO POUND SAND while kicking said sand in their face. Well, okay, he didn’t really say that or do that. I am loosely paraphrasing. But he did refuse to delete the tweet… rightfully so.
What makes this really funny is that the tweet was mostly ignored in all the noise floating around the Twitterverse… UNTIL Twitter suspended Babylon Bee’s account. THEN the news of the suspension went viral. “Unintended Consequences” anyone?
Do you feel the butterfly flapping its wings?
Shortly after the suspension went viral, Elon’s former wife, Talulah Jane Riley, texted Elon about how crazy it was that Babylon got suspended. She then reportedly stated that Elon “should buy Twitter and either delete it or make it radically free-speech.”
Again, I do NOT claim to have any insight into Elon’s magnificent mind, but it seems pretty obvious to me. THE SEED WAS PLANTED!
For someone like Elon, whose mind operates at a different level than most of us (well, at a vastly different level than MY mind at least) this must have felt like a challenge.
Having previously described himself as a “free speech absolutist,” Elon now had an achievable pathway to make that declaration a reality. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that he is also the richest man on planet Earth.) Within a month or so of that seed being planted, Elon made his formal bid to buy Twitter.
The rest, as they say, is history. We cannot be sure how future history will remember these events, but having lived through them in real-time with access to all the media available, it seems obvious, inevitable, and indisputable…
A Bee flapped its wings, creating a stir in the Bird, that inspired the Musk to act.
BAM! Nailed it!
Author, Consultant, Wonderer of “What If?”
Author of “Public Speaking for Kids, Tweens, and Teens - Confidence for Life!”
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The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. — from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect.