Tuesday, October 13, 2015–On this day in American History:
- The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Divisional Series. They now go on to play in the National League Championship Series, the winner of which plays in the 2015 World Series.
- The first 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Writer Anne Lamott gets sassy on Twitter.
- It was my first full day off of Facebook since I can’t remember when.
Having the whole day off Facebook went better than expected. I stayed busy and on the go throughout the day, and even got my pantry cleaned, organized and looking much improved. I didn’t check my phone repeatedly for updates, but instead talked and texted on it quite a bit, and a whole stack of mail was sorted and discarded. So, really, the change initiated to help push past fatigue was quite successful. I’m doing it, and it’s exciting! I was, sadly, too busy to get my full five mile walk in, but I am still on target for my weekly goal, fingers crossed.
I found I didn’t miss checking Facebook until it came time to sit down to watch the playoff baseball game and then the Democratic debates. I missed interacting with friends, though team loyalty and politics are volatile topics on Facebook and not always pleasant. To find the news, I checked Twitter, but much of it wasn’t as accessible to me as it is on Facebook, which has a selective newsfeed. I’m not sure how I will proceed, but when it comes to information, being off Facebook already feels like a bit of a disadvantage. I am also missing out on most of the writing challenge news, so that may drive me back faster than anything.
Yesterday’s Twitter included some haughty tweets by the popular writer Anne Lamott, whom I met last year at one of her book signings. It isn’t unusual for Anne Lamott to be sarcastic. After all, she’s known for her wit and outspoken humor, but I was a bit miffed when she turned the sarcasm on the presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, because of what she characterized as his being too loud.
I guess I don’t really agree with this assessment. I see him as passionate about the issues; I see him as speaking to a large group of people; if he has a bit of a hearing deficit, I can forgive that, even overlook it entirely–if she’s even right, though I don’t think she is on this matter. I listened after the debates to an MSNBC interview with Bernie Sanders, and there was no mistaking that Chris Matthews was louder than Sanders. Lamott seemed to be reaching to have something funny or otherwise derogatory to say. This made me think a little less of her, not of Bernie Sanders. Women have been saying for years that they do not want to be evaluated by their looks or demeanor, hair styles or age, yet Lamott’s focus turns these tables on Sanders. It seemed as if she was trying to make herself seem superior to him, a man of vast public service contribution as well as a graduate of the esteemed University of Chicago. This time Lamott’s chiding just didn’t sit well with me–her varied and overdone tweets about what she assessed as his being too loud.
When Lamott said Sanders will never be president because of his shouting, one millennial tweeter who happens to be her son, Sam Lamott, schooled her by saying, “never say never.” When several people favored this tweeter’s admonition, Lamott reacted defensively (and again sarcastically), saying:
Of course, it’s supposed to be humorous…and I’m sure it drew several laughs from the crowd. Yet, this sort of arrogance, to me, illustrates exactly what is wrong with social media. The 162 you see beside the star (*162) naturally represents people with well over 40 followers favoring Lamott’s quip. They clearly want to be included in the big group, the “in” group–the group of tweeters who have lots of followers, not just a few (under 40, in fact)…and more importantly, to be aligned with her via her opinions–or, in this case, attitude. This approach proliferates a class system where more is more, based on ego and an otherwise utterly vacuous measurement, because then (if we have lots of followers) we can feel smug and self-righteous and as if we have arrived.
In this mentality, everything’s a competition…and that fits right in with playoff games and presidential debates; might as well take it down to the level of social media, where people are supposed to be “connecting.” Hundreds of twitter followers clearly means we are smarter and happier and probably even wealthier than those with much fewer. This is a reductionist philosophy if there ever was one. Akin to the Facebook “like,” the number of followers (like the number of “friends” or the number of “likes” accumulated) becomes a measure of one’s worth, one’s identity. Social media is the new country club. Status is everything; how many followers, how many friends, how many likes, how many pins, how many favorites…which all have their own complicated cultural qualifications. This is the sort of silliness that annoyed me on Facebook.
It seems arrogant and sophomoric, not to mention short-sighted, to believe one’s worth is congruent to the number of followers, as people come to Twitter at different times and sometimes very briefly. As one tweeter from Maple Grove, MN pointed out in response to Lamott’s address to “annoying people”:
“@ANNELAMOTT, weird that the word “follower” is used when really
we are curious about what ppl can express in 140 characters or less.”
Likewise, if a person is new to twitter, or if they are trying to keep a low profile maybe expressly because they do not want to play the game, they naturally may have few followers..it could be by choice, and have little or nothing to do with their ability to secure an audience. In the aggregate, a large group of tweeters with few followers is still substantive; those opinions are not necessarily diminished by their lack of volume.
And why the elitist stance coming from Anne Lamott after all? I imagine she would just laugh incredulously at my reservation here, saying, “I was joking, dumbhead!”
I know I’m not going to win any fans by criticizing Anne Lamott (whom I like (!), as she says about Bernie Sanders). Perhaps she is just a Hillary supporter. Perhaps she decidedly set out to make Bernie look bad just to keep him out of the running…or to knock him out of Hillary’s way. If so, I think both she and Hillary herself took care of this matter. I wouldn’t say Sanders is out of the running, but I would say that between Anne Lamott’s Twitter and Hillary’s live vitriol, Senator Sanders looked like a bullied middle-schooler just wanting everyone to get along.
This is Day 14 in the 31 Day Writing Challenge, 31 Days of Breaking Free from Fatigue
© debra valentino, all rights reserved, www.firstlightofevening.com