, 10.28.2019 07:33 AM

Twitter vs. Everyone

Frank Bruni, who I hero-worship, has a typically-amazing column in the Sunday New York Times. 

Best bit:

On Twitter in particular, Trump doesn’t exclaim; he expectorates. You can feel the spittle several time zones away.

And Twitter suits him not just because of its immediacy and reach. It’s a format so abridged and casual that botched grammar isn’t necessarily equated with stupidity; it could simply be the consequence of haste or convenience. Formally written letters follow rules and demand etiquette. For Twitter all you need is a keypad and a spleen.

I love that last line, about needing only “a keyboard and a spleen.”

Over the past few days, lost of people have asked me to come back to Twitter and Facebook and all that social media stuff.  I might, I might not.  I haven’t decided yet.

I didn’t turn off social media, by the by, because I couldn’t handle the crap – I’m actually not bad at handling the social media crap.  Twitter is punk rock Internet, which is why I (usually) got a kick out of it.  It’s fast and nasty and blunt, like punk rock is.

So, I’ve even taught people how to use Twitter, and how not to let it get you down.

But it was getting me down, so I turned it off.  Click.  It was easy.  Haven’t missed it, either.

The Internet is a vanity press for the deranged, someone once said, and it has always been thus.  Expecting enlightenment in 240 characters is kind of ridiculous, when you think about it.




  1. Dave says:

    You should stay off social media. The festering turds need a break from you.

  2. Dave says:

    And for the sensitive folks , what I mean is the people you call out not you or the fine upstanding folks on your site.

  3. Peter says:

    Godwin’s Law long predates Twitter. It isn’t just the character limit, although that doesn’t help. Anonymity can fuel the bile, but I think the main problem is that it is unmoderated and there are no limits to the length of an exchange. There are good reasons parliaments have speakers and courts have judges and that parliamentary rules, court procedures and Roberts Rules of Order all provide for limits to debates. They’re needed to keep the participants from drawing swords.

    • The Doctor says:

      All good points.

      The quality of political discourse on Facebook just depresses the hell out of me. And I know that a big part of that is that moderate, centrist people generally don’t join in. Facebook political discourse almost exclusively consists of really, really opinionated people on opposite poles.

      And the name-calling and pejorative labelling starts pretty much from the first post. Furthermore, the memes are generally designed to elicit an emotional reaction rather than make a logical point or argument.

  4. NeinerNeiner1 says:

    I miss you on Twitter if I am being honest, but totally respect your decision to stay away.

    The most important thing is your well being.

  5. Aurelia says:

    There is enlightenment in very few characters, and has been for millenia.
    Haiku poetry can be very enlightening.
    My personal favorites? Ernest Hemingway and his challenge, “Six word stories” as described by HuffPost.

    Also, comics!

    Twitter is what you make it, change who you follow, write, don’t write.

    Just sayin, good things come in short sentences

    • Steve T says:

      Perhaps, but no one ever concocted public policy, or based their voting decisions, based on haikus. Now it seems that is the norm.

      Haikus also came from a time when they were the anomaly; a form of poetry, when most discussions were still robust and detailed. Now it seems Twitter and Facebook posts are the main focus of “debate”.

      You could spend 20 minutes giving the details of an economic plan, but if someone comes up with a pithy little Twitter snark, that’s what the media covers, and that’s what convinces people. This is not a good evolution in human governance.

      • Aurelia says:

        It wasn’t invented to create good political governance…like Facebook, it’s become something much different than anyone ever expected.
        What is good is the way it connects people who otherwise would never meet. And social media is democratic, cheap for anyone to join. For years, you could update by text message, no smartphone needed, no expensive internet connection. People trapped or lost or in need of advice, help can reach someone, even from the poorest nations on earth. Breaking news, disasters, political uprisings, live tweeting events, meetings.
        Sharing jokes…

  6. Harry Belafonte says:

    Twitter is the bile ducts of the internet.

    Also, punctuation mistakes are ok, but not knowing the difference between you’re and your does in fact mean you’re an imbecile.

    I will say one good thing about twitter, if you find someone who tweets or retweets good info and does it occasionally it can be a good resource, like yours was. But I would never join in.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Well, #FuckTwitter

  8. Gord Tulk says:

    Not since the invention of the printing press has humanity seen such a revolution in the dispersement of information as we have seen in the past 15 years.

    You think Trump is vulgar and low and anti the establishment elites?

    Imagine how the public and the elites must have regarded the works of Martin Luther being nailed on the doors across Northern Europe. People literally died as a result.

    The smartphone and social media are tearing down all of the elites – in politics, in government, in business, in media, in science and in the arts.

    This is an enormously important and great good thing. Trump is a symptom as is Boris and Petersen and Chappelle and many many others around the globe. The result will equal or likely exceed the impact of Gutenberg and rather than centuries it will take far less time as well.

    We live in the very early days of the elite overthrow. It is upsetting and vulgar with lots of people revealing their flaws often unwittingly.

    And Twitter and Facebook and Google are likely transitory entities rather than permanent ones.

    We are all learning on the fly. I think moderation in ones conduct and reactions to be a wise course under these chaotic and changing circumstances.

    • Warren says:

      Gord, on this occasion, I agree with you.

    • Terence says:

      Trump inherited several hundred million dollars, went to Wharton business school, got a medical deferment for ….ummm…’bone spurs’ to get out of going to ‘Nam, and is President of the USA; BoJo is an Old Etonian, studied classics at Oxford, wrote for the Telegraph, was mayor of London and is Prime Minister of the UK. That you think these guys are symptomatic of the use of Twitter to overthrow “The Elites” means the Elites have won… utterly and completely. Read some Chris Hedges.

      • Gord Tulk says:

        No. Trump and Boris (just two of millions upon millions) may have elite upbringings both both are very well tuned-in to the wants and needs of those outside of the elites. They aren’t the first participants in a revolt that came wealthy backgrounds.

        It is their success that is symptomatic-not their upbringing.

  9. Peter says:

    I don’t disagree with you, Gord, but putting social media on a historical continuum with the printing press, etc. begs a few questions. Radio and TV or even the Internet might be better examples, I think. Social Media is not about, or even primarily about, the dispersal of information, it’s about contact and interactions between and among citizens, and it’s raising troubling questions for those who buy into the old liberal shibboleths about how “bringing people together” will lead to greater general understanding and tolerance. I’m sure there are areas of Twitter where people exchange recipes, etc. and make new friends, but the political side is toxic and dystopic and is playing an important role in fueling the anger and bitter divisions we are seeing in the public square today. It’s all well and good to meet new people and exchange perspectives, etc, but maybe we should also remember the old adage that good fences make good neighbours. The human animal is much more complex than imagined by those Enlightenment sages who preached that our essential nobility would emerge if only we could free ourselves from all those irrational cultural and economic fetters.

    Do you remember the old ad from the 90’s where hundreds of young people sang about how they would like to buy the world a Coke? Those of us who winced at it did so because it was so cheesy. Looking back today, I have to wonder whether the real objection should have been that trying to buy the whole world a Coke might set off another world war.

    • Gord Tulk says:

      The TV and Radio and newspapers were/are in the control of the elites. That is not the case with social media. You and I can get our information now from an infinite number and combination of sources. We are no longer reliant on one or two. THAT is unique in world history.

      No longer does a resident of Hoadley have to rely on the biases of a “journalist” in Toronto. The residents of the hinterlands around the globe can no longer be centrally controlled.

      • Gord Tulk says:

        Obviously you don’t have kids younger than 25. Only 4% of Canadians watch TV national news. And how many are now listening to podcasts instead of radio.

        In Canada and the US those little papers and news channels were owned by conglomerates. Dissent was minimal and not widely read.

      • Peter says:

        I suspect you and Gord may have very different views of just who these dastardly elites are.

      • The Doctor says:

        I’m reminded of a quote I read, I think it was in the Atlantic: “We’re used to saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. In the age of the internet, everyone has become entitled to their own reality.”

        And to me, that’s scary.

        To wit: I just read Trump supporters in the Breitbart comments section yesterday, insisting that the people who were booing Trump at that baseball game had been paid to do so by George Soros.

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