Some predictions on what happens from here
"People are going to stop opening up the app because it’s going to routinely be the shittiest part of their day."
I dunno, man, that hasn't seemed to stop anyone so far.
I'm not sure that the demise of Twitter is all that significant. The world is facing its greatest geopolitical and economic threats since WWII, climate change is accelerating so quickly, the predictions are outdated 5 minutes after publication, poverty and starvation is endemic, and the pandemic just won't quit.
Perhaps more Twitter influencers will open Substack newsletters, or perhaps another platform will replace Twitter, perhaps many will decide the benefits aren't worth the hassle. I, for one, would miss the easy access to true experts in various fields, but I won't miss the cynical journalists vying for cable hits or pundits with their invariably naive takes or endless trolls and bots, or bad-faith extremist propaganda.
I do worry about Ukraine and Iran...important voices need to be heard and we cannot allow their suffering to fade.
In light of recent events, have you updated your estimate of Twitter’s time-to-smoking-crater?
"I doubt any of that will happen. It would be… out-of-character." Perhaps, but my read of Elon's character is that he loves to shit-talk and get attention, maybe bully some folk, smoke another blunt or two, then wake up the next morning and let the professionals run the company: examples Tesla and Space-X.
But he makes some miscalculations with finance stuff because he doesn't take contracts or finance seriously (and he has so much money he can afford to pay millions in sanctions, etc just to make an impression on the internet). I think he miscalculated back in April with the Twitter offer--he wasn't serious so he didn't know that Twitter's lawyers wrote a VERY serious & careful contract--and he did not appreciate how Delaware Chancery Court is fast, and especially the chief Chancellor won't be gamed. He was probably figuring he'd take a billion dollar hit for the fun of it, but didn't think he would be stuck for $44 billion.
I agree that one of your two scenarios is how it's likely to be, but I don't think the latter one is that impossible or out of character for Elon.
Elon's real enterprise is a massive DoD program, which requires Republicans to fund. Twitter helps him with that and curry favors. There is some method to his madness.
Mike Griffin has long been the ringleader but he's only useful when Republicans are in power.
(carefully read section on Elon and Space Development Agency.)