Monday, November 7, 2022

Time to trade tweets for toots?

Art generated by Dream by Wombo 
    Hey there! I see you. Through the page, as you cast your eyes — deep, soulful, intelligent eyes — downward at this column. And I want to say, how very special you are, for all your delightful qualities and how flattered I am that you would add your delightful presence to the Sun-Times family of readers today in your unique, quite extraordinary way.     
     Feel better? Of course you do. Attention is addictive. That’s the shortest possible explanation for social media. Facebook lets us set up these little shrines to ourselves and then join in a mutual admiration society with assorted strangers. Instagram lets us direct fabulous little movies about our fabulous little lives.
     And Twitter. The cynosure of the moment. Since I’m sure some readers will only vaguely perceive Twitter as the gadget that car/space tycoon Elon Musk bought for $44 billion, twice what it’s supposedly worth, I should explain: It’s an online platform where you spitball brief opinions at your followers, while others in turn knuckleball their views at you, to either swing at or let fly by. It’s like writing your thoughts down, folding them into paper airplanes, then launching them into a hurricane.
     I joined a dozen years ago because not joining seemed journalistic malpractice and I find it a useful tool in my job, both writing stuff — you can track people down on Twitter — and then disseminating what I’ve written. Occasionally, I get lucky and a Neil Gaiman will retweet my column to his 3 million-plus followers, the arc light of significance sweeping over me for a moment before all is darkness again.
     Though mainly I’m a part of an audience, like everybody else. The truism, that if you aren’t paying for something online, then the product being sold is you, applies double for Twitter.
     This past week, we’ve all been supernumeraries in the Elon Musk Show, watching the richest man in the world whine and gripe and beg people on Twitter to start paying $8 a month for the blue check marks that go beside their name, originally issued to show tweeters are indeed who they claim to be.

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  1. "Now if Twitter charged $7.99 a month to use the service, I might pony that up or, rather, ask the paper to pay it as a cost of doing business."

    That seems like a pretty significant distinction. In effect, we subscribers -- oops, Members -- of the Sun-Times would then essentially be subsidizing your Twitter account. (Of course, in a certain sense, we subsidize everything you spend money on, regardless.) It still raises the question of whether you'd pay for it on your own.

    Oddly, as a left-leaning weenie who prefers sticking it to the Man and who is very hesitant to pay for anything, I could actually see the argument for Twitter being worth $8 a month. And I'm not even ON it. Alas, they're stuck with the same dynamic that newspapers are -- it's been free from the get-go, as online newspaper content used to be, so getting folks to pay now seems like a harsh penalty to those accustomed to free information.

    Yes, one rightfully balks at paying for a "floating Nuremberg Rally for Donald Trump." On the other hand, if one wants to find out (for some unfortunate reason) what's going on at the real-world Rump Rallies, there's no better place to find out than select Twitter accounts. (Aaron Rupar, going above and beyond the call of duty by wallowing though the bullshit, for instance.)

    And if one chooses one's informants carefully, there's no better place to find out about breaking news than through Twitter, IMHO. Plus, there's so much good information routinely being shared among various subgroups: the Bike group, the Architecture gang, Chicago History buffs, the Nature crew, Film folk, and on and on. (Heck, if you just follow Robert Loerzel, you're presented with more solid, engaging info than you can even keep up with. With charming videos of the Montrose Beavers occasionally thrown in, for good measure!)

    All that being said, if it crashes and burns due to one man's massive, fragile, wrong-headed ego -- so be it. Kind of a shame, though.

  2. As I get older, I find myself becoming less interested in being around stupid people, probably something to do with not wanting to waste my decreasing time on the planet. Thus I find myself drifting away from community fora like Twitter or Facebook, both of which seem to have an unending supply of idiocy on tap. At the same time, I have to wonder (A) why so many others seem to revel in that crap, and (B) why those communities seem to have such importance in the world. I read the nonsense and think, "People actually believe that stuff? Do they have no powers of critical thinking? Why do others get so worked up over what's written there?"

    I don't have a clear-cut answer to the above, except to largely ignore it. My surprise comes at seeing how honked-off others can become over something stupid being written by someone in the public eye. Ye, for example, is simply an idiot with possible mental challenges piled on, and his recent stupid utterances would probably have been better left ignored rather than publicized (although public reaction did at least get him dropped by a surprising number of companies that really should have known better in the first place).

    I don't see my future being affected by anything Musk does to Twitter, but if it generally decreases Twitter's effect on anything in the Real World, that would probably be a good thing.

    1. I resisted the charms of Facebook for about fifteen years and did not feel as though I were missing anything. I used Nextdoor for a number of years, in order to find out about neighborhood happenings and events. It was also a good way to find local tradespeople and get recommendations about who to hire and whom to avoid.

      But ND has rigid and inflexible standards of language and behavior, and I repeatedly ran afoul of their stick-up-the-ass Bay Area support personnel. I received many warnings, and longer and longer suspensions. The last suspension was for a year. Within two months of reinstatement, I was suspended yet again, this time indefinitely. Which, at 75, probably means for a lifetime. So now, I'm with the banned. Thousands of other users have suffered similar fates. There are entire platforms where banned members piss and moan about ND.

      In the last year or so I've switched to Facebook, mostly out of necessity. I'm in a number of groups, some of them local. The remainder are strictly limited to things and places I know and like, hobbies and interests, and Boomer nostalgia, where geezers reminisce about things and locations (like Chicago) now changed forever...or mostly long-gone. There are a helluva lot of wistful and heavy-hearted Boomers out there. As for politics, I avoid that subject like the recent Plague.

      Conversing with strangers all over town and the country and the world, many of them very bigoted and quite ignorant, does not take the place of conversing with neighbors and people in the immediate vicinity...but it is what it is. It's also as addictive as cigarettes, and a terrible timewaster.

      As for Twitter...birds tweet. I don't. Never felt the attraction or found the need. If it dies, I will merely shrug. Let the racist billionaire fascist piss his fortune away. Couldn't happen to a richer jerk. Because there isn't one.

  3. Regarding wanting to find out what's going on in a Trump rally, we already know.
    Regarding people actually believing that stuff, it's what they want to believe.
    That's the new way people get their news. They go to the source that tells them what they want to hear.
    I don't participate in any social media because for some reason, unlike legitimate media sources, they are not held responsible for the content they are delivering.
    Misinformation has long been a part of world history but the Internet has made it too easy and too believable to those who aren't paying attention.

    1. I googled around to see if blog sites are considered social media , and for the most part the answer seems to be yes.

      Not that I have anything against participating in social media. I find it satisfying.

      I try to tailor FB etc to the things and people I'm interested in. It takes a little effort and the BS still leaks through. Honestly I'm glad to get some info that ain't my thing now and then thats part of the reason I'm lurking around EGDD. LOL!

      Seriously it's good to hear from the other side occasionally to know what we're up against. So long as they're not screaming in my ear

  4. What's the photo at the top of the blog today? It has the look of a hospital chapel.


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