Friday, January 25, 2019

Barton Swaim's Message To Twitter Users: "Delete Your Account"

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It now appears WSJ columnist Barton Swaim has some savvy advice for social media junkies, specifically to do with Twitter:

For Sanity's Sake, Delete Your Account - WSJ

He writes:

"One Saturday morning last fall, I sat down at my desk and deleted my Twitter account.I did it for a variety of reasons. Privacy, for one: The thought of people unknown to me prowling around my account made me uneasy. It was also a distraction. Most Twitter regulars will confess to wasting hours following the idiotic spats and tirades for which the medium has become famous."
Swaim adds (ibid.):-

"If you follow more than a small number of accounts, you're likely to find, in addition to some fine wit and the occasional useful link, an immense quantity of material that's by turns obtuse, absurd, mean and mendacious."


"You'll look further into the exchanges in which they occur, and after a short time you will have considered a vast arrays of vicious, defamatory and inane utterances."

Most enlightening:

"Complaints that too many people are publishing their ill-formed thoughts are not new. In 1802 the Scottish critic Francis Jeffrey groused in the Edinburgh Review that ' hairdressers, and valets write amatory verses; coffehouse waiters publish political pamphlets; and shoemakers and tailors astonish the world with plans for reforming the constitution'.  That sounds hopelessly elitist  in our egalitarian era but Twitter is the ludicrous conclusion of the propensity Jeffrey lamented."

No surprise here. As I pointed out  in an earlier post (Nov. 23,  2017) Twitter is essentially a cartoon language medium by which I mean its 140 character limit basically excludes any potential for complex thought and most facts.  Or, I might add, any basis for proper explication of what one is communicating.  One is basically reduced to the equivalent of a series of language cartoons.  This also hearkens back to the medium used  constituting the basis of the message, as Marshall McLuhan first pointed out in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Recall one of Trump's most inane, half baked early tweets from 2017  (concerning U.S. nuclear policy) and you see everything wrong with this superficial  medium:

"We need to strengthen and expand nuclear capacity until the world comes to its sense regarding nukes."

What the hell was he yapping about? Expand nuclear capacity? Was he nuts, ignorant or just stupid? As a number of strategic analysts pointed out, including staff from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the U.S. already has just under 5,000 nuclear warheads in its active arsenal and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. This is more than enough to turn the world to ash about six times over.
Meanwhile the clueless media, especially on TV, kept showing the tweet on large HD screens in bold relief, as they scratched their heads, openly wondering what the hell he meant.

Thus, no surprise the Trump team itself was scurrying to impose some semblance of meaning on the word jumble expelled.  In fact, as a Denver Post release a day later noted, the "Trump team offered only slightly more explanation of the comment later in the day when communications director Jason Miller said Trump was 'referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it'"
Let's be clear  that no sane person ought to be propounding nuclear policy via a cartoon language medium. The very choice to do so indicates that person lacks all his marbles. I would add that any person who defends such use also must be questioned as to his "lost marbles".

Besides, any medium which allows instantaneous reaction or instant aggression should be prohibited from being used by a president or national security officer to interject or propose nuclear policy or security issues. It can't be otherwise.   The nature of the medium is to cater to impatience and instant brain farts, baseless opinions- often from the minimally educated.  Why? Because it's simply too easy to spout off!   Contrast that with preparing something like a blog post for which at least some semblance of work, effort must be invested.

While it is true blog posts can also be polarizing, because inevitably many will take issue - at least they provide a space and time-extended forum to make coherent points and arguments to support a position. Comments, thoughtful and well reasoned, are also enabled - up to well over 1,000 characters - and provided that certain attributes are met.  Something a 140-280 character tweet simply can't do. Thus, a tweet is more like an infant's scream by comparison. Succinct, loud, abrasive and in your face, or  assaulting your ears. No wonder then tweets have converted so many into brash, over-sized toddlers with anger issues..
Does one really need an I.Q. higher than a hamster's to grasp that tweets  (and most Instagram  texts) are an inappropriate medium for communication, far less making nuclear policy or other national policy.  Must it really be spelled out for Trump and the media that often grovels for attention by posting his every brainless expulsion.?

This is one reason I never seriously considered ever using Twitter and never will.  I don't care if I'm only 1 of a million or even a billion or dismissed as "out of touch" . Popularity of a thing has never been cause to jump on the bandwagon of the moment. Whether that be the 'ice bucket challenge' or the endless posting of daft kitty -punching - doggy YouTube videos.   Oh, that goes for "selfie sticks" too - since I believe the whole concept of selfies is narcissistic and foolish. (Why I was elated on learning Prince Harry chastised an Aussie girl about her wanting to take a selfie with him, advising her to "stick to normal photos,  selfies you don't need!")
But that's the problem today, because too many simply give in to the latest craze,  putting their brains on ice and acting in "monkey see, monkey do" fashion. For example, trying to emulate  characters in the Netflix movie "Bird Box"  - walking with blindfolds on as they crash into walls and barriers- even holding their blindfolded toddlers' hands as they collide too.

Everyone wants to be "on the cutting edge" of the latest tech advance and so barely give a thought to the volume of electronic waste left in their pathetic wake. Or how addictive social media devices are destroying their intellects, engendering millions of tons of brain waste.

Then there is all the mental and emotional  bandwidth waste that sucks up terabytes as people spew forth on any and everything - from the size of a model's lips, to a political speech, to the new Miss America "not looking like a real American",  to the latest crazed buffoonery from Dotard.
Tweets may be cutesy modes of communication for the Millennials and many others but they don't make the cut as genuine writing -  any more than an ape's random paint splashes on a canvas "creates"  a passable work of abstract art.

As for Mr. Swaim, I leave his next to last paragraph  with  readers:

"The instantaneous awareness of so much folly is not, I think, healthy for the human mind. Spending time on Twitter became for me, a deeply demoralizing experience. Often especially when some controversy of national importance provoked large numbers of users into tweeting their opinions about it.  I would come away from Twitter exasperated to the point of madness."

More  reasons for others to also come away from the "madness" and delete their Twitter accounts.  Such a move, while it might seem drastic, is more probably beneficial.  It will clearly  make more room for genuine intellectual participation -  such as reading actual books-   instead  of  polluting one's own mind with gigabytes of bollocks and noise.

See also:


Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests …


Brane Space: Newsflash! Your Kids ARE Digital Zombies!


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