Layered in with this, there is an abstract currency. Replies, retweets, likes, shares, and the various visible (and invisible) metrics are symbolic “money” backed by social connection. When one accumulates more of these metrics, the machine regards one as more worthwhile to “do business with” - as both an entity that generates value from doing work as well as an entertainment commodity. We can think of an individual as a “producer” in a similar way we might consider a TV producer - and the image of themselves they create to share with people as a “show.” A service like Twitter is essentially a machine that does the work of the publishing side of an entertainment company; it is designed to do the same curation, promotion, and maintenance that such a bureaucracy does.
It, however, does this with people who, to varying extents, do not understand the nature of the machine and interface with it as a neutral platform. Some can “see The Matrix,” so to speak, but even though most don’t, they understand that they can do certain things and it responds in certain ways, though. This is all by design, and thus we find the place where the designers are able to leverage our behavior. This is where incentives make their more obvious appearance. The currency we talked about is, of course, the most visible connection to these incentives and the ultimate “pay” we receive for completing them. But as people detect certain behaviors are more likely to be rewarded, they engage in those behaviors - building a following, identifying what validates them, giving that to one’s following, finding people who invalidate one’s following and making them look bad, etc.
These behaviors essentially funnel people into the group X and group Y we mentioned earlier.
The easiest way for individuals to capitalize on this dynamic to do this is to put a novel aesthetic on the prevailing social ideology. So maybe you “dress” (or rather signal) like a “radical leftist” and defend Ukrainian Nazis - sorry, Azov Battalion members - because right now, the US state is waging a proxy war on Russia through them. Maybe you “dress” like a trucker and talk about how great Trump is. It’s not hard to tap into some argument the ruling class is having with itself that regular people don’t actually have any input on and sort people into “sides.”
People are fractioned off and incentivized to keep an eye on each other - and to “snitch” as much as possible.
Successful action based in these incentives reward a person with metrics and advances your position on the platform. But it’s only on the platform. You have to keep doing it there. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort to transfer a following from one social “platform” to another - I have seen tons of people with millions of subscribers on YouTube and like 12k on Twitter.
You’re stuck here!