Can Twitter Be Fixed? Or Has “The Fix” Always Been In At Twitter?

When I turned on my computer this morning, I learned that I am now banned from Twitter for a week. The offending tweet (I sooooo wish I had taken a few more moments before responding and screen captured it) was mild to put it bluntly. I said I wished that Donald Trump – with his shitty eating habits – would hurry up and do the patriotic thing: have a “cardiac infarction”. That was it: You eat so badly, have a heart attack already.

Banned for a week. For that.

If you tweet with any regularity, you know — that doesn’t make it as mild. A violation of Twitter’s rules? THAT tweet?

Something is rotten in the State of Twitter. There always has been. So why not quit the platform?

Twitter — among social media — is unique. That uniqueness has made it ubiquitous as both a news source and a brand-building platform. In design, Twitter is very much like a giant public square (I’m not the first person to compare it to one). Each member of the community enters, in essence, with a soap box under their arm. We can go stand and listen to others up on their soap boxes (shouting out compliments or catcalls, depending) or put our own soap box down on he ground, step onto it and orate to your heart’s content (or until some RW troll goes after you and gets you banished for a week).

FB (which everyone should run from, their hair on fire because of Zuckerberg’s total lack of transparency, his lying about abusing our privacy & data and the fact that FB accepted a shitload of Russian money back in the day) makes it hard to build a following (since everyone has to be friends first) whereas, on Twitter, if you can tweet well and find a little traction, it’s possible to build a following (if slowly but surely). But, like FB, Twitter is easily manipulated by bullshit and false information. In an age where even simple, basic Truth has to be triangulated before you can trust it, the only way to possibly know the truth is via triangulation. Source, check & double check.

Too many people don’t. Or don’t want to.

That Donald Trump still tweets is a profound problem. Yeah, I know – he’s the president of the United States. It still doesn’t give him the right or reason to so completely misinform, disinform and otherwise crap all over the Truth. Especially when Twitter is THE place — across most cultures on the planet — where news goes to break. One may roll out a project or product on FB but one uses Twitter to tell the world about it.

This was hardly the first time I’ve been banned on Twitter. My original Twitter account was over 10,000 followers when it got suspended for good. Twitter accused several tweets telling certain republicans that they should die in prison of violating its rules. I’m totally biased but I think that was bullshit. I said – literally – I hope the criminal justice system prosecutes you & punishes you with a life sentence. That was it.

I appealed as far as I could but that came to nothing — as arguing with a computer always will — because that’s really what happened to me. The bot that reported me had sent a dozen supporting tweets as proof of how evil I was. Several had the words “die in prison” connected in the tweet. Others had those 3 words spread out across the tweet — not having been used in conjunction with each other. But there the three words were – in the same tweet. And, for that, I had to be punished.

How did Twitter get so powerful in our lives that the thought of a week without being able to tweet from my primary account looms as a setback. I can’t brand as aggressively as I have been the past few weeks. I can’t be an active part of a community of smart people that I’ve come to treasure like dear, old friends. I can listen to the news — and to people (I can message them directly if that function isn’t blocked). But I can’t interact (except via DM) in any way, shape or form.

Maybe our real problem is that Twitter has become a necessary evil.

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Slavery Sucks. All Forms Of Slavery, That Is — Including The “Subtle” Ones…

Slavery has been a thing homo sapiens do (we don’t know if any other human species did it) since we figured out we could force someone else to work for free. Slavery, in its essence, is stolen labor.

Yes, it’s a stolen life. But, from the point of view of the enslaver, the goal is to steal the labor above all. You can’t steal too much food or sleep — the slave will die. The only other cost basis for a slave is output — work. Take away the raw costs of feeding, clothing and housing the slave, the profit derived from another human (other than their raw materials) is their work. Slavery wants THAT for free.

But there are other forms of slavery where, in essence, a free person gives away their “work” to the person (or organization) who will absolutely enslave them. Employers do it with the contracts they force employees to sign. Credit card companies do it — so do time share companies and gyms. America does it with the way we handle health care (how many people stay in jobs they hate just because they need the employer-provided health care?) Religions do it especially. If you want to belong, you have to surrender your reason and free thinking. Those will only “un-enslave” you from the slaver’s point of view.

About ten seconds of listening to any Trumpanista or republican defend the indefensible tells you — this person is a slave. They have surrendered all freedom of thought to a “thing”. To a person. They are as shackled to their ignorance as any slave ever was.

Except the real slave yearns to be free.

And that’s the difference — between people who’ve been enslaved and people who actually WANT to be slaves.

Ignorance is slavery.

Blind faith is slavery.

Personality of Cult is slavery.

Political indoctrination is slavery.

Trumpism is slavery.

I’ll toss in one more — for the Media’s sake — “Both Sides Do It” is slavery (okay — a lesser variety — but it IS a distinct sub-set of Ignorance). Both Sides Do It is lazy thinking that false equivalences things that do not in fact equal each other (like climate science and climate science denial — two points of view, not at all the same in their truthfullness). “Both Sides Do It” is soft slavery for the Media but hard slavery for the American Public — who continue to be enslaved by the RESULTS of the larger ignorance.

I trust I don’t have to explain all that to free people.

What WASPS Look Like

I grew up in a bubble.  

It’s true.  Pikesville, MD (just outside northwest Baltimore) was so predominantly Jewish that clever (non-Jewish) people called it ‘Kikesville’.  Get it?

My public high schools — Pikesville Junior High & Pikesville Senior High — were so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off because they knew — school was going to be a ghost town.  Virtually all of my friends were Jewish (not all but close to it).  We tribalized inside the bubble based on which of the major synagogues your family belonged to.  Most of us were reformed or conservative Jews.  The orthodox among us were the outliers. Wait — you don’t eat steamed crabs?  What the hell is wrong with you?

In Baltimore, there was a strong Irish Catholic presence.  Evangelicals hadn’t taken hold yet so the Mainstream Protestant pool was bigger.  Most Protestants aren’t WASPS.  WASPS aren’t just followers of some variation of the Protestant faith, in their minds, they’re its originators — their families go that far back. WASPS are as insulated a culture as Jews can be with one huge difference.  Lots of Jews seek to assimilate.   WASPS don’t ever.   To them, they’re the thing everyone else wants to assimilate INTO.  To them, they are the Gold Standard.  They ARE White Culture.

My closest brush with WASPs & WASP culture was when I got accepted to the Gilman School — where some of Baltimore’s WASPiest WASPS sent their progeny.  I begged my parents not to send me.  Gilman was an all-boys school (a very, very GOOD school) and that seemed an impossibility to me.  I wanted to take my chances with public school like all of my friends (fortunately for me, the Baltimore County School System was pretty good).  WASPs were an alien culture to me even then.

When I arrived at Vassar College, WASPS were among the first shocks to my system.  We’re not talking big, knock-you-on-your-ass shocks, we’re talking ‘the-world’s-more-complicated-than-you-thought’ shocks. 

Quick sidenote: The other culture I ran into that shocked me as I had NO concept of it whatsoever was California Culture.  My first college gf was from Marin County and her wild high school escapades were actual wild high school escapades with naked hot tub parties and drug dealers that made our high school escapades look… well, like high school escapades.

WASPS did everything differently. They thought about food differently for instance.  If my housemates and I were throwing a party (I lived off campus most of my time at Vassar), the Jews in the house always overbought food while the WASPS always overbought liquor.  Who cared if there was nothing to eat so long as the booze kept flowing.  THAT was foreign.

WASPS prayed differently, of course.  And they spoke differently.  They stood differently and engaged with you differently.  In ‘Annie Hall’, Woody Allen nailed the differences between WASP families and Jewish families perfectly with a split screen of two families (one each) at dinner.  The WASPS are all very well-mannered, quiet, always speaking in turn while the Jewish family talks over each other like a tic.  Something of that deep-seated English fear of embarrassment remains at the core of most WASPs.

Being an outsider, I found WASP culture fascinating — especially its latent (as opposed to its blatant) Antisemitism.  The Catholic Church’s history of Jew-hating was a flashing electronic billboard of cruelty, brutality and blood lust.  WASPs on the other hand — at least where I grew up — kept their Antisemitism a little cleaner.  It was so hard-wired into their culture that you could miss it.  But it’s there — even with your friends.  

Look — we’re tribal creatures, every last one of us.  Strange as it may sound, I don’t mind my friends being Antisemitic if, at least, they own that it’s there in their makeup.  Jews making jokes about Jews is one thing.  Someone else making jokes about Jews — just cos they can count Jews among their bff’s — that’s always going to be a dicey, ‘it was in the tone of my voice’ proposition.

After college I shared a cute little carriage house in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn with two dear friends, both WASPs.  A few days after I moved in, we had an Easter party for lots of our friends — and I made the ham.  I was genuinely touched when my two WASP friends and housemates praised my Easter ham for its authenticity.

I had assimilated successfully into them, you see — at least, as far as I was going to be allowed to assimilate…

 

Will Our Age Ultimately Be Known As ‘THE BRANDED AGE’?

Americans are not generally known for their knowledge of history (or geography).  We have other strengths.  But, when we DO have history (and remember it), we tend to be ‘colorful’ about it.  There’s a ‘pretty famous’ (if by ‘famous’ we mean Historians call it that) time period in American History called The Gilded Age.

It was America’s first Great Headrush of Success — when the accumulation of extreme wealth became a remote possibility for a few outside the tight circle of White Christian Old Mega Wealth.  Suddenly, even total cads could get the Federal Government to pony up all the money & risk on the transcontinental railroad while THEY reaped all the profit.  Boo-Yah Representative Democracy was Good!

Our own Age is starting to feel (creepily so) like a deranged, stalker wanna-be of the Gilded Age.  Call us THE BRANDED AGE.

Having no more wealth beneath the earth’s crust to pursue (someone else already owns it all), and with technology making most anything we could do with our hands obsolete as a job skill (making ‘things’ is so ‘third world prison labor’, don’tcha think?), that means only the Most Clever Rats will find their way out of the Maze that is Their Future.  And the MOSTEST, CLEVEREST Rats have already groked that BRANDING — making YOU (the ‘idea’ of you actually) a distinct thing in other peoples’ minds — is essential to any sort of success going forward.

Because WHO WE ARE is now instantly accessible by anyone else, we need to make damned sure that what’s being PROJECTED is the picture of ourselves we want projected.  Our everything depends on it being ‘right’ (whatever ‘right’ is for each of us).

Back in the day, this kind of thing was called ‘your values’.  I don’t mean ‘Family Values’ — an ad slogan for smug, sanctimonious Christan hypocrites — I mean VALUES.  Stuff you believed in not because some religious bullshitters rammed it down your throat but because you lived life and applied your life experiences accordingly.  Like most people, you probably wanted to co-exist in relative peace & harmony with your neighbors, live a long, healthy life and get to see your great-grandchildren succeed before passing on.

And because those were your values, you hung with certain people who shared those values.  You formed friendships, started businesses and raised your families among people whose values were pretty much the same as yours.

If you practiced a religion — you formed bonds with people who believed the same way you did.  If you loved a sports team above all others… same thing.

These days they think of it in Branding terms.  I happily ‘brand’ with Tottenham Hotspur for instance.  I’ve followed that English Premier League team for years & years & years (I married into a Spurs family).  On some days, I  still happily co-brand with the LA Dodgers.  It’s an LA thing…

But I am keenly aware of everyone I now associate with.  If I speak up for someone or get their back — I need to know I’m not gonna pay for it by seeing my own integrity dinged.

After all — I have a brand to protect.