Why (Unfortunately) Twitter Matters

In a logical world, social media shouldn’t matter the way it does. In a logical world, everyone would have access to the same information. We all might judge it differently but at least we’d all be starting from the same place: a reality based on what we all agree we know.

I canceled my Facebook account a few years ago. I do not trust Mark Zuckerberg with my private information. I regret he has what he already has of it. I suspect Zuckerberg is compromised to a degree by the Russian money he took in to help keep Facebook afloat early on. I suspect Russia — and organized crime — have more sway than we know.

Facebook and its sister platform Instagram are designed like a neighborhood — in that one has to be “invited into it” in order to contribute to it. One can’t just walk in on someone else’s page; you have to be invited; you have to be friends. Twitter is structurally different. It’s almost exactly like a town square where everybody enters carrying a soap box. There are famous people — verified people — already standing on their soap boxes yapping away. In Twitter, one can follow anyone (until or unless they block you) and either listen to them quietly (having all their tweets in your feed) or answer back. If you answer back smartly, the person on the soap box might even follow you — and get all your tweets in their feed.

That’s the goal, of course — to attract as many followers so that every time you get up on your soap box to spew, you spew to thousands, tens of thousands… millions. One can dream, can’t one?

That town square structure — or think of it like Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park — is what makes Twitter truly dynamic. One can go there and simply “orate”. If one has zero followers, one is orating to oneself. But once you begin to build followers, once you begin to build that community — where you’re part of others’ communities while they’re part of yours — there’s a feeling of collective togetherness that I never experienced on FB. Yes, sure, there’s an echo chamber quality and one almost always preaches to the choir. And Twitter is toxic as hell — because some of the people in the town square are toxic.

All true. But the Twitter experience is unique and uniquely addictive. One can walk up to any other person on Twitter and tap them on the shoulder. They might not respond. They probably won’t. But then, they might.

Ask any Twitter user what their proudest moments have been on Twitter and, betcha, it will involve having a tweet liked by someone they respect and follow or, better yet, having that person re-tweet them. Or — best of all — getting followed back by that person they respect and follow. While FB made catching up with your high school homies easier (and boy, was that fun for about ten minutes), it doesn’t satisfy beyond that. At least, it didn’t for me.

Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, said that his three guiding principles — which, he says, the company shares, are “simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship”. You can’t argue with Twitter’s simplicity. Christ, the only way to stress anything is via capitalization (shouting) or by using *s or “s. The saving grace is that photo or video attachments don’t count against your 280 character limit. That brings us to craftsmanship. Back when the limit was 140 characters, one really had to get an idea buttoned down tightly before tweeting. Tweets back then were way more cryptic.

But the limitation forced people to use craftsmanship. The 280 limit made tweeting easier. One didn’t have to rely on so many tweet threads to convey a simple point. Still — there’s something really satisfying about a great tweet. If we go back to the 140 character limit, it asks a question — what can you say completely in that amount of space?

You can tell a joke in 140 characters.

You can have a set up and a punch line — or a slightly complicated set up and a punch line or even a slightly complicated set up — with one more small, key detail — then a punch line. That’s it. 280 characters lets you add more details. Sometimes too many details. Though 280 characters still isn’t the endless page that FB gives you, people still tend to ramble.

Twitter’s town hall structure is exactly why news goes to Twitter to break. Tweets are news. While only 22% of Americans say they use Twitter, a good chunk of that 22% are the people who make news in one way or another. Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as his principle means of communication as president pretty much changed the game — and made having a Twitter account more or less imperative. That’s if you care to know what’s going on in the world.

On the one hand, it’s madness. On the other hand, it’s just efficient. Back in the good old days, news would break by means of a complex process of those making the news describing it for the news media who would then disseminate the light via newspapers & broadcast media to the plebeians out here in the dark. Back in the day, one would have to read a newspaper or catch the news when it was being broadcast in order to stay informed. Now, one only need open Twitter and scroll through your feed for a few moments (provided you’ve got a good, well-chosen feed representing both your Twitter community & the news/information voices you want to hear from) in order to feel informed.

What Twitter’s structure allows one to do — if one’s of a mind — is to create a network of voices you can trust. These days, one can’t simply “watch the news” to get informed. Our news media simply isn’t up to the task of covering Donald Trump. They’ve failed us terribly. To find the truth in anything one must triangulate it. One must approach it from three directions simultaneously. As chaotic as Twitter seems, one can do that. One can build a community of trustworthy voices.

One can build a community.

To his credit, Jack Dorsey invented a thing that never existed before — a virtual town square. And as crazy as it drives many of us, we can’t quit Twitter.

There’s greatness there. There’s putrescence. There’s beauty and compassion and there’s extreme cruelty, too.

There’s Donald Trump.

Twitter’s problem is it thinks it needs Donald Trump. It doesn’t. Hey — I’ve lost Twitter accounts. If I’m honest with myself, I went too far. That’s if I ask myself if I always used “constraint” — that other feature Jack Dorsey believes is part of Twitter. I once posted a movie image of a vampire being staked & said the GOP deserved to be staked like a vampire. That account? Gone.

I also told someone I hoped that they died in prison. That account? Gone.

For the past few days, Donald Trump — the POTUS — has been lying about vote-by-mail, he’s been smearing people — causing them or their families considerable heartache, he’s been lying in ways that are demonstrably bad for the public and its health. Constraint? Not a drop.

But Donald Trump’s Twitter account lives.

Having a virtual meeting place where one doesn’t have to be “friends” first before engaging with each other — where one can go and sample what others are thinking (perhaps even heckling respectfully or shouting encouragement) — works on multiple levels. That’s why Twitter works.

Twitter can never be a “respectful” place. But it can be a safer place if management would simply apply its rules equally.

Perhaps what’s needed is political leadership that will help Twitter rather than take advantage of it.

Racism – Like Beauty – Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Asking a racist if he’s a racist is like asking a stupid person if he’s stupid. Guess how he’s going to answer.

In fact, even having to ask if someone’s a racist usually means the person asking the question either IS a racist himself or has no idea what racism is — which means he absolutely is a racist. Journalistic “neutrality” is not an excuse for tolerating racism. Racists count on that sort of tacit approval (that’s what tolerance is) to normalize and legitimize them.

We need a MeToo movement for racism. I bet a lot of the same shits that treat women like sex toys think nothing of their racism. Hell, they think their racism — like their sexual predation — are rights of white privilege. Don’t like it? Go back where ya came from.

Is there anything more flat out racist than bloated orange jackal turd and racist Donald Trump bleating that HE (of all people) is the least racist person on earth — that there’s not a racist bone in his body? Dude, there ain’t a sinew in you that isn’t racist — never mind bones. Every neutron & proton inside every cell in Donald Trump’s bloated orange body is racist.

And is there anything more racist than racists running to a racist’s defense — insisting that the racist can’t be racist? Is there anything more absurd?

It’s very racist, by the way, to call out the victims of your racism as being the actual racists – like Donald Trump regularly does…

Racism is America’s Kryptonite — the thing that kills us the closer we stand to it. Donald Trump — being the poorly conceived Bond villain that he is — working for Vlad Putin who’s even more racist, vile and pernicious — gleefully rips the scabs from our racist wounds and pours salt in them.

The correct response to anyone claiming not to be a racist — or claiming Donald Trump isn’t one — is “Oh, shut up!”

The louder the better.

And if you want to throw in a “You racist piece of shit” — they’ll understand.

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.

How Bad Is It? For The First Time, I’m Not Entirely Sure How This Shit-Show Turns Out…

I’ll own it: I over-bet on Robert Mueller and the Mueller Report. I over-bet on his reputation as a soldier and as a law enforcement professional. I over-bet on a career spent inside the box thinking outside the box.

None of that’s on Robert Mueller. It’s all on me. Instead of filling the silence with despair like a Bergman movie, I filled it with hope. I thought all the clear criminality I could see (well, me and a lot of the twittersphere — the detail-oriented, back-it-up-or-it’s-bullshit part of the twittersphere) was sitting there like a ball on a batting T. All Team Mueller had to do was pick up a bat.

Even that was a problem apparently. Robert Mueller felt hemmed in by that Department of Justice memo meant to keep Spiro Agnew from pardoning Richard Nixon. We’re riding the leading edge of an historical ripple effect — an unintended consequence of tragic proportions. Unable to charge a sitting president — and reluctant apparently to anger Trump by charging his children (and risk his work product being destroyed), Robert Mueller pulled his punches. He tipped everything in Congress’ direction.

But — here’s where I over-bet again — Mueller didn’t count on his good friend Bill Barr betraying him by completely mischaracterizing his work product — by telling America that he, Robert Mueller, had just let Trump off the hook. Mueller didn’t count on Bill Barr being there for the express purpose of obstructing the very justice Robert Mueller had just spent 2 1/2 years pursuing. Mueller has raised his voice and complained. He even broke ranks — a little — to insist that we all read his report.

He’s right. Everyone should. A lot of very painful truth sits inside those 448 pages. It defies explanation that the Truth sits there — right in the middle of us — yet the villains of the piece continue to walk free — as if they’ve bamboozled not just us but logic itself.

Personally, I don’t care if Robert Mueller says he’ll only repeat what’s in his report if called before Congress. He’s a private citizen now. No special privileges. You get called, you answer. The questions we have won’t necessarily concern just what’s inside that report. There’s the relationship with Bill Barr that needs looking into. Mr. Mueller will have to answer those questions. He’ll be under oath.

But why should it come to that? Why isn’t Robert Mueller demanding an hour of prime time to speak directly to the American People?

Yeah… I over-bet big time.

I’m an optimistic person by nature. Never Say Die. That’s me. I believe there are enough good people to overcome this shit. I’m not sure what will be left when we get finished pulling it back from the career criminals that used to be the Republican Party. I appreciate that Nancy Pelosi wants to do this by the book. The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t.

Great thought. Noble as hell. But the Rule Of Law takes time — and I’m not sure that time’s on the schedule. Sometimes, you have to work with what you have. If time’s short, Madame Speaker — you need to improvise a little. Just sayin’.

Today, Donald Trump outed himself completely. He must know that Donald Trump Junior is about to get nailed for knowingly taking info from foreign sources. Trump and the republican party are blasting away the obstacles that say that’s not just unacceptable, it’s illegal. Not anymore it isn’t, not anymore.

Rachel Maddow said something tonight that got me thinking. We expected that once all this got out into the light, nature would take its course. Law enforcement would “happen” because that’s how the Rule Of Law works. Except the Rule Of Law’s gone missing.

Today, watching Republicans not respond to Trump’s inviting every foreign country on the planet to have a go at our elections, it struck me how screwed up we are. From the moment it became clear that Trump was going to be the republican nominee, I’ve been yawping that Trump would be the end of the republican party. He absolutely has been.

I didn’t for two seconds imagine however that Trump would be the end of the Republic, too.

A bad outcome isn’t written in stone. But the republicans made it crystal clear today just how ugly this is going to have to get before there’s any chance of it getting better. Trump knows for a fact: the instant he stops being POTUS, his legal nightmares begin. He will go to prison — IF he ever stops being POTUS. The same now applies to the whole damned republican party. They, too, have thrown all in. (Shriveled, old) balls to the wall.

We are going to be subjected to a Bond Movie ending that gets bigger and bigger, louder and more complicated with a Teflon villain who just won’t go down. We The People are the majority. We WILL get to the other side of this.

I just worry about what-all will still be here to save.