Jack Dorsey has been getting progressively shaggier over the past few years. Since the mid-2010s, the Twitter co-founder and CEO’s hair wisps and beard scraggles have grown in direct proportion to his wealth and power.
When he appeared via video feed at the Senate GOP’s hearing on “online platforms censoring conservative speech” on Wednesday, Dorsey revealed himself to have gotten even bushier in quarantine, with meandering beard puffs extending an inch or more off the sides of his face and crisp-looking strands of facial hair dangling all the way to his sternum.
Dorsey has long sought to present himself as both a rugged pioneer on the tech frontier and an iterative perfector of his own human physiology. He eats only one meal a day, practices an “extremely painful” form of meditation, and likes to take an ice bath after a spell in the sauna. His unkempt hair and beard are another way he projects this image of a monastic sage who’s transcended the superficial trappings of the American business world.
A dry beard wreathed in flyaway hairs is a deliberate choice for a man with enough money to take baths in the world’s most rarefied beard oil and pay for an hourly trim every day for the rest of his life. It says, “Multibillionaires: They’re just like us!” and “Yes, I have inordinate power over the global spread of information and nonsense, but really, I am just a wittle bearded street urchin. Plz don’t tax or regulate me!” As Slate’s lushly bearded director of technology, Greg Lavallee, pointed out to me, it takes work to make facial hair look this disjointed. Dorsey’s mustache is neatly trimmed and combed. He clearly knows how to keep up a beard. His hair, too, is shaped into an intentional style, even as it flips out in curls at the ends. If Dorsey was trying to look like he’s been fully letting himself go (or achieving his final living-in-a-cave form) during the pandemic, he failed.
In 2015, then–Slate writer Jacob Brogan opined that a series of parody Twitter accounts devoted to Dorsey’s beard—which was, at the time, just beginning to cross over from businessman to Burning Man—explained what was wrong with the social media platform. “While users tweeted excitedly about those accounts, hardly anyone was actually following them,” Brogan wrote. “Loud as the conversation was, its participants were few, and that may be the problem across the site as a whole. If Twitter is going to thrive, it needs to take advantage of its volume.”
Since then, Twitter has continued to be a place of many tweets and few participants. The only thing taking full advantage of its own volume is the bushel of sticks on Dorsey’s chin.