Old enough to remember a world that was only connected by pen, paper & stamp, or rotary dial phones, I can assure the younger generations that “Social” Media has completely kicked the legs out from underneath meaningful and productive human relationships and interactions. A lengthy treatise lamenting the obliteration of human decency, kindness, and bi-directional respect, while tempting to pursue here, would be lost on the poor souls that can do no better than anonymous snark, feigned outrage, and disingenuous hyperbolic bloviation. A more productive approach to articulating the pros and cons of the double-edged sword which now defines our systems and methods of human interaction and discourse, it seems to me, would be to consider how this new human dynamic might yet be put to some positive, life-improving purpose.
So that we might end on a positive note, let’s start with the low-hanging fruit otherwise known as “Mean Tweets,” once made famous by a now-former American president. I won’t mention any names here, although it might be fun to kick up a few “hater” Millennial temper tantrums that inevitably ensue whenever he is mentioned, this isn’t about “he who won’t be named”… specifically. What deserves a closer look than the person, or his social media contributions, is the hysteria in response to them.
For those that may not be aware, Facebook first went live in 2004. For context, this was a month after George W. Bush began his second term, Amazon was 14, Google was 6, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t quite old enough to buy liquor, and Twitter was yet to be a twinkle in Jack Dorsey’s eye. The idea of Facebook was pretty amazing for us Boomers, in large part because it enabled us to find people we had lost touch with over the decades and allowed us to exchange pictures of our respective grandchildren with old friends and loved ones.
As children always do, my Generation’s kids invaded Facebook and effectively turned the platform into a caricature of itself and its younger users. I know what you’re thinking, and yes – I said caricature; selfies, entries about where you’re eating or what you’re eating or who you are eating it with are nothing more than self-serving, narcissistic drivel and have little to do with sharing meaningful conversation with people for whom you care and with whom you wish to share some of your life story or the meaningful things that happen during the course of it.
In July 2006, as Facebook began its slow decline toward the relatively cartoonish platform it has become, Twitter opened its doors with its own silly little idea that it could change the world 140 characters at a time. Back in those days, I happened to be a contributing editor at a nationally recognized conservative website under the pen name Haystack and was made to create my first Twitter account somewhere in the 2007/2008 time frame. I thought it was silly then, and I still think it’s silly now – even though I have an account there myself – but I continue to engage it all the same. In no small measure, it is partly entertaining to me, but it has also been educational as the years have gone by; once celebrities and media notables figured out how they could game the Twitter system, not only to enrich themselves but also see themselves as remaining relevant and gaining more reach with their perceived fan base.
It’s worth noting here that Elon Musk, now the owner of Twitter, first created his account in June of 2009. Oh, how the world has changed… At least as it relates to the Twitter platform… Over the course of the last 13 years. And the changes have been stunning; where the world once migrated away from Facebook, thinking it would make itself somehow smarter and more important, just about everybody, rich and famous or well-known in Celebrity, Pro Sports, or Rich and Famous media and corporate superstar types are now losing their minds in Collective feigned outrage that their Monopoly on public discourse has been crushed.
People like me, relegated to the nosebleed section in the cheap seats (allowed only to watch quietly while the bigwigs did all the talking in our national discourse), started being victimized somewhere around the time George Floyd died. It actually began a little earlier, around January 2020, when we were forced to be too afraid of covid-19 to ask questions, but whoever of us riff-raff on Twitter had not already been canceled began seeing themselves booted to the Twitter exit doors over any questions about the nature of Floyd’s death or how much of it might have been of his own making. And don’t even get me started on the Gestapo-like clampdown on Free Speech on any matters related to January 6th.
It is a delicious irony that the notion of “Free Speech” (believed by the no names in America to come from God, not the government) is routinely used as a sledgehammer by those in power(or in possession of notoriety and fame) to defend their efforts to repress Free Speech in the name of fighting to protect it. It’s especially delicious when you consider the fact that few of them actually believe in God in the first place… But I digress. One of my greatest pleasures, staying with the Twitter platform, is watching all the creative ways the Left twists itself up in knots, trying to do as much as possible to ensure that their Free Speech comes at the expense of ours.
All of this brings us back, full circle, to the so-called Voldemort, or POTUS 45 (“he who shall not be named)”). It was Twitter management before Musk’s takeover that thought it would be a good idea to silence a sitting US president and remove him from the National conversation. All of the people doing the Snoopy dance over the usurpation of a person’s God-given right justified this action publicly by (essentially)suggesting that his freedom of speech wasn’t as good (or free) as other people’s freedom of speech. But regardless of your feelings about the person, putting a thumb on the scale of God-given rights clearly indicates you presume Authority over something that did not come from you to begin with. Elon Musk, whatever his religion or lack thereof may be, understands this and has set about the task of smashing all the thumbs that have been tipping the scales against Free People and the ability to exercise their God-given rights in a public forum.
The reaction from those in possession of power and influence on Twitter has been, as you might expect, fire and fury and whining and gnashing of teeth, and threats/promises that they will leave the platform, or as I like to say, take their bats and their balls and their gloves and go home. I, for one, won’t miss a damn one of them… But if I’m being a humble servant to the good Lord above and the rank-and-file American who wants to enjoy freedom… I’d rather see everybody stay, find a little Grace and humility, and have the national conversation each of us clearly needs to be having about America and her future.
Imagine, for a moment, that there was no internet and that your only means of communication was by way of a pen, some paper, a stamp & envelope, or a goddamn phone call… How much time and effort would you be willing to waste on these sorts of silly and meaningless things? And if you expand on this concept a little bit, ask yourselves what improvements reporters and journalists bring to our daily lives when they hyperventilate about this or that politician or public figure because they said or did something mean or nasty but otherwise has no real effect on what we are going to do with the rest of our day once we have been told these sorts of things.
I realize there is no getting the technology horse back in the barn at this point, most especially because the global population would have to have their cell phones and electronic gadgets surgically removed from their hands, but it begs the fair question: Are we a better species for some of these vanities and self-indulgences that have been invented to enrich a handful of people at the expense of the global population, or might we all be a little better off if we brought at least some small amount of decency and self-respect back into the Homosapien social dynamic?
Every single one of us that isn’t getting rich off of the addictions they have imposed on the more impressionable among us would do well to go outside, look your neighbor in the eye, and have a conversation about almost anything rather than letting random strangers… Sitting in front of their computers in their boxers while eating Twinkies… tell us what to think and how to feel about it. God did, after all, also grant us the gift and Power of free will. It sure would be a nice change of pace to put that to some greater use than just our own self-interest and start treating our fellow humanoids just as well as we wish they would treat us.