Am I The Only One Exhausted By Twitter?

I try to me a man of the times, albeit of the “quickly aging/hell in a bucket” variety.  I have my vices (whiskey, salty snacks, pedal steel guitar music and the objectification of c1expensive trucks and all those half-dressed Russian women on Instagram) and I have my ekaterina zuevadevices–the newly acquired bad-ass desktop computer (because laptop keyboards are too small for my sausage-sized fingers, and sometimes you just can’t say no to a big old desktop monitor and 2.5 TB of Itunes music, downloaded internet images, saved emails and personal photographs). There is also a slick Samsung notepad that is great for road trips, digital literature, and the morning visit to the bathroom. I’m just not the dustbowl luddite some folks seem to think I am.

Much to the approval of my family, not to mention the shocked amazement of old friends, I also recently acquired my very first smart phone. It wasn’t really by choice. As my children approached graduation, the old land line phone started to ring incessantly, mostly with universities and colleges, but increasingly with telemarketers, unidentified robo-calls, offers of credit card refinancing (although I don’t use credit cards), free cruises and trips  to the Caribbean, and those guys call from “the imagestech support” who desperately need to access my computer to fix a terrible problem I’d yet to realize. (Nice try, guys, really).

It was time for the land line to go, and time for me to put a little effort into 1.) keeping my phone not only charged, but turned on, and 2) actually knowing where my phone is at any particular moment and carrying it around with me, and 3.) actually answering it when it makes noises.

Those noises were the tricky part. My kids fixed it up so I can access all my social media–a well-meant job, though frustrating when I realized that every web site has a different website for android, requiring and entirely fresh learning process. And it is loud. The indexdamn thing is constantly chirping and clucking with notifications, and while I could turn them off, I am trying to be more engaged with the modern world. The grumpy, contrarian, stubborn technophobe isn’t really who I am–although I’m frustrated by the constant, and usually gratuitous, upgrades and changes of our technology,  I love the access to opinion, art, literature, and thought provided by the age of the internet. I’m entranced by Instagram, beguiled by Facebook and the connectivity it gives me to friends and family despite world-weary teenagers regularly telling me “Facebook is over.” (Kids: keep the commentary to yourselves; your wisdom is just as deep as your wardrobe choices are appealling. You may be the future, but I’m still the present, and if you sneer at me again I’m going to embarrass you in front of your friends with a fierce and until now unanticipated grace and fury.

Of all the social media, Twitter is the format I just can’t seem to abide. While I’ll be the first to praise its unrivaled value in the transmission and early coverage of breaking news, I’ve written elsewhere about the derogatory effect that Tweet-based communication and culture, which are purposefully superficial, projects onto our culture. For a while, when it seemed that a significant portion of young people were gleaning their news from Twitter, I feared for the future.  Occasional profundity through brevity is stomped on by the obscene lack of nuance.  One needs only think of Donald Trump and his one word proclamations.  “Sad.” and “Corrupt.” Declarative proclamations punctuating venal opinion stated as fact, as parodied here:
I am confident that Trump owes his rise as much to the trend of news as infotainment, and the era of putting page hits ahead of integrity in media. I would go further by saying that in a world without Twitter, Donald Trump would not be the phenomena that he is today,  not only because it is an ideal platform for his simplistic, unformed rants and half-formed “policy” but because the very nature of Twitter has prepared us to accept such.

Just as frustrating is the inherent chaos of Twitter–in order to keep up with even my modest list of a few hundred followed Tweeters  (far less than my “follows” on WordPress), constant vigilance is essential lest I fall hopelessly behind and miss an actually interesting post. I don’t have time for it, and miss far more than I see.  Adding insult to an already difficult task are the serial retweeters who place hit counts over quality. You know, the ones who show up throughout the day with two dozen or more re-tweets in a row? Is selectivity no longer a thing? Is liking a post not enough?

It is little wonder to me that Twitter is supposedly twitching and and gasping on life support. Unless one has no life outside a device, or a life so dry and quiet that one can devote significant attention to scrolling the tsunami of static roaring across the Twitter feed, the format is a mess. The only value I find in it is that other folks, with seemingly more time, energy, and resources than I, somehow find a way to sift through the detritus for rare clumps of value which they can package for the rest of us to consider and enjoy as I did with the faux Trump quote above.  As far as its value in carrying my own words to readers, I rate it as a few rungs higher than attaching notes to balloons and releasing them into the wind.

Funny and/or Strange

Chaffetz, Weiner, Love Ewe–Bestial Friends Forever

Many moons ago, upon the occasion of that most holy of holiest (not to mention drunkenist) nights, Christmas In August, I gifted my old friend and mentor Perry with an inflatable lamb–THE LOVE EWE.  Intended as a joke, she proved to be quite a hit at animated-sheephunting camp. As they say in Wyoming, “welcome to Wyoming, where the men are men and the sheep are scared.  Ahem.

Perry’s well-considered gift to me was a nice, gift-wrapped fifth of George Dickel, my tonic of choice at the time, and a straw. It was, at that point, perhaps the kindest and most generous gift I’d received in my life, and still ranks right up there, just beneath the homemade “I love you daddy” stuff my daughters have made over the years, and a collection of Guy de Maupassant’s short stories that my wife gave me, when we first started dating, for my birthday one year when my entire family–including my mom–had forgotten. I’m pleased to see that The Love Ewe is still hot to trot, with a hilarious website of her own.  I only wish that Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and former New York Congressman (and lewd Twitter all-star) Anthony “Look at My” Weiner had summoned up the discretion to contact The Love Ewe, who is a professional after all, instead of taking out their pent up urge on unwitting amateur lambs, however compliant they might have seemed at the time.



Too Priceless (and typical) To Ignore


Donald Trump has hogged so much of the spotlight thus far in the election that we have been deprived of all the stupid stuff other politicians, and Republicans in particular, spout. Screenshot_4This one makes the old “spontaneous abortion” rant look quaintly pastoral.  It seems that the GOP, in the form of its National Republican Senatorial Committee, thinks that Representative Tammy Duckworth–or Lt. Colonel Duckworth, if you prefer, isn’t doing a good enough job of standing up for veterans.

That could be because Duckworth lost both of her legs, and suffered catastrophic injuries to her right arm (it was basically blown off and reattached) while serving as an US  Army helicopter pilot in Iraq.  She was the first female double amputee from the war, but despite a medical Tammy_Duckworth_wheelchairwaiver, she continued to serve in the Illinois Army National Guard. She retired from the army in October 2014, just before winning reelection to Congress. The GOP not only Trump__3511154bblames the media for publicizing their callous whoopsie–because the real offense here is not that it was said, but that it was reported– but at this writing have yet to apologize for their snarky douchebaggery, and why would they?  The NRSC is infamous for shooting from the hip, and shamelessly basking in the attention–who was it that said there was no such thing as bad publicity?–because unless they let clueless interns from Dartmouth run their Twitter, there’s no way this wasn’t calculated. On the other hand, it is not like the Republicans have embraced a culture of mocking disabled folks. Right? I mourn for the nation we have become.

Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like sheer awesomeness

The Boston Yeti.

There are things I don’t like about Boston.  Like the Patriots and…well, just the Patriots, really.  The Boston Yeti pretty much remedies the city–just goes to show you there’s no limit to what one man, or one Yeti, can accomplish.

It is things like this that undermine my goal of absolute misanthropy.  I’m dangerously close to feeling that, at this particular moment, I think people are pretty great sometimes.  I’m not saying that, but I’m dangerously close.  Perilously, even.
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And of course the Yeti has a Twitter account.



Commentary Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like sheer awesomeness

I’m Back…with Menacing Clowns.

I’m back–miss me?  Well, I missed you, so there.  I got a lot done during an unplanned hiatus–lots of outdoor work, including planting next season’s garlic, cleaning out the garage so I now have a junkyard of old machinery in the driveway to sell for scrap later this week, and a lot of administrative work done in my various public service and volunteer incarnations.  The local high school football team lost a heart-breaking game over a blocked extra point in overtime, and the Steelers got shellacked by the lowly Cleveland Browns in a performance that opens up a lot of weekend time for the rest of the fall.  No way do I give time in my schedule for a team that seems to lack discipline and drive.  I’ll forgive a lack of talent, but not a lack of will and character.  I went to a party and a parade.  I even got interviewed on the radio and didn’t sound like an idiot.  Rare for me.  I wrote 8500 words of novel, too–not run at the mouth (pen? keyboard?) first draft, but good, hard, sharpened prose boiled down from about 12,000 words of blabber.

I do not return empty handed.  I bring you this headline–an overflowing cup of delicious awesomeness.

Mysterious Clowns Terrorizing California City


This isn’t something I made up–a group of people, probably including some copycats, has been dressing up in clown costumes and posing for eerie pictures in California and posting them on Instagram and Twitter with predictable, viral results.  I am in love with this prank.  If any of you were here at the beginning, you might recall that the very first Old Road Apples Post included scary clowns, so I’m feeling a little sentimental.

When you click over to the link on that headline, make sure that you read the comments, which are even more wonderful than the article–which is saying something.  Especially if you’re a Scooby fan.  Here’s just a sample.