Quickie Post — Winning the Internet on the Electric Twitter Machine

My border collie, Mary, and my two boys, ca. 2002

Lately, I’ve been working on establishing a presence on Twitter. I had initially thought that Twitter, with its 240 character limit, was a toxic playground for trolls and collapsed Authoritarians, because of the inherent knowledge fragment nature of the medium.

I was wrong. Turns out Twitter is far more interesting than Facebook, that’s for sure. Facebook is the place where you get to find out what you’re friends have been holding back from their public personae. It’s like finding out that the quiet guy who never said anything, and you always thought well of, is actually a total asshole. Facebook is interesting in its own right, of course, but it has inherent problems. It’s a place where once you’re above some norm of decency (like realizing pederasty is abhorrent) people can find whatever set of norms they like in the broader world. And so become unencumbered from reality, or even the desired to maintain bonds within a physical community. And unfortunately, if you’re connected with them on Facebook, you’re likely connected with them in reality.

It’s not that the Electric Twitter Machine (term borrowed from one of my favorite political writers, Charles Pierce at Esquire) can’t turn into a hideous, dank swamp for all sorts of High Conflict Personalities. It can, of course. But it also offers a medium to walk along the edge of a very steep cliff, with a chain attached, and peer out either into the heavens, or the abyss. Think the Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park, metaphorically speaking.

I’ve constrained myself to mostly professional discourse and had a fabulous time connecting with folks of like mind (like Conway’s Law author, Mel Conway), who want to make big-scale global change, as well as some truly funny one-liner writers. They’ve inspired me to start adding a little more humor in my feed. So far, this is my favorite existential quote, from Chief Chuck:

·Jul 30 As I watched the dog chasing his tail I thought “Dogs are easily amused”, then I realized I was watching the dog chasing his tail.

My recommendation is this: try it. Exercise self-control. And get back to me. It could be that 240 characters are perhaps the best way to build connections with people you’d otherwise have no access to yet invented. Everyone’s almost willing to give you 240 characters of time.

2 thoughts on “Quickie Post — Winning the Internet on the Electric Twitter Machine

  1. I also agree that twitter is the most rigorous, objective, enlightened and scientific method of communication–apart from books—i read my books on CSPAN radio’s ‘book TV’ . These cover important subjects—for example, while many books on Abraham Lincoln have been written, the newer one covered some important material left out in these books—for example, ‘what was Abraham Lincoln doing between 5 am and 7 am on august 5 1860?’ . this is important information. (and you have to be a historian at Yale to be an expert on this–astonishingly it turns out he brushed his teeth and ate breakfast).

    regarding the dog chasing its tail–the dogs i knew used to steal my socks. i had 2 dogs–a white one and a black one–both some sort of ‘mutts’ but looked like poodles. the black one named “pushkin’ (which a russian writer named himself after) would accompany me walking miles through the snow in appalachian mountains in winter, and heat in summer. people used to shoot guns at pushkin when he chased their cows.they’d shoot at me if they caught me fishing for trout on their land. pushkin would get in trouble with bobcats—i had to tell him to leave the bobcat alone because that bobcat will kill you–he found where it lived so i had to pull him out of that cave by his tail. pushkin in summer also managed to choose a place to sit—which was on top of a rattlesnake. i told pushkin to move. rattlesnake just sat there. pushkin also liked skunks—that was a mess.

    i was always supposed to be somewhere at some time and was usually late—–my parents would be waiting in the car for hours in the snow. i told them i took a scenic detour since i dont get to these areas often. pushkin would show up an hour later—he was busy chasing deer.

    pushkin eventually dropped poetry and got run over by a car. thats empathy for you.

    for more examples of empathy see also youtube video ‘weird snake goes crazy and kills itself’.

    in my area i hear birds twitter2. most of the rare birds are getting rarer tho i see some; its moslty english sparrows and starlings and crows. crows almost died off a few years ago due to a virus–but now they are back. i hear in england now english sparows are dying off2.


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