If you want to see even 1 percent of what is happening in America’s cities right now, put aside Facebook and WordPress and get on Twitter. There is an abundance of footage from cell phone cameras and from local news stations.
Even before the current national crisis, I consistently learned 100 times more from my Twitter feed than from other platforms. (Of course it depends largely on who you “follow,” but still.)
Lydia Parry: “Hello [Waving hand] How are you doing”
Me: “Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?”
Lydia Parry: “Hey”
Me: “Come on, now. I hear you’re feeling down. Well, I can ease your pain — get you on your feet again.”
Lydia Parry: “How are you doing and how was your day been”
Me: “Relax. I’ll need some information first.”
Lydia Parry: “What”
Me: “Just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?”
Lydia Parry: “Where do you come from”
Me: “There is no pain, you are receding — a distant ship’s smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Lydia Parry: “I come from California state Flag of United States and you”
Me: “When I was a child I had a fever. My hands felt just like two balloons.”
Lydia Parry: “[smiley face] Sound bad to hear from you”
Me: “Now I’ve got that feeling once again. I can’t explain … you would not understand …This is not how I am.”
Lydia Parry: “Sorry I’m just honest to any person that I’ve met
I will understand you”
Me: “I have become comfortably numb.”
Lydia Parry: “Ok”
Obvious scammer on Twitter (disguised as sexy girl): “My name is Kaleta.”
Me: “My name is Luka. I live on the second floor.”
Scammer: “That’s nice to hear from you where are you from”
Me: “I live upstairs from you. Yes, I think you’ve seen me before.”
Scammer: “Oh really”
Me: “If you hear something late at night — some kind of trouble, some kind of fight — just don’t ask me what it was.”
Scammer: “Oh I see so can you send me pic of you If you don’t mind.”
Me: “I think it’s because I’m clumsy. I try not to talk too loud.”
Scammer: “Oh om Ok Can you send a pic of you This is me” [Sends picture again. I have been reliably informed by a friend that the picture is actually one of the Playboy Playmates. Which is curious, because “Kaleta’s” Twitter profile somewhat puzzlingly refers to her as an “Able God.”]
Me: “Maybe it’s because I’m crazy. I try not to act too proud.”
Me: “They only hit until you cry. After that you don’t ask why.”
Me: “You just don’t argue anymore.
You just don’t argue anymore.
You just don’t argue anymore.”
I’m calling it. Historians will look back on the advent of social media as a key escalating factor in international crises.
It actually isn’t always a very good thing when heads of state can spontaneously interact in real-time, at any moment, without their staffs vetting or tempering their messages, even when those heads of state are tired or upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
And there’s more here to consider. If you’re in your 40’s, as I am, you can remember that good friend from high school who you got along swimmingly with if you occasioned to speak with them twice a year — maybe on the phone, maybe when you visited the old neighborhood. You held diametrically opposed views on politics or religion, but those things seldom arose in conversation.
Then Facebook and Twitter brought all of those differences front and center. You could be reminded of them every day — in a platform of interaction that is manifestly habit-forming. The ease and availability of that interaction paradoxically drove you apart. (Recall, please, the old adage that “high fences make good neighbors.”) You woke up one day and realized that your good friend from high school wasn’t such a good friend any more.
What we are witnessing today is a case of technology having disastrous unintended consequences.
So, dudes, this really cool thing happened during the first wee hours of Christmas 2019. I couldn’t sleep (yet again) so I was Twittering in bed — I wound up responding to the #Dimerick hashtag, where people were poking fun of Donald Trump with limericks. I wrote four.
George Conway retweeted two of them. (As you’re doubtlessly aware, he’s the husband of White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway — which is funny, because he’s an outspoken and highly visible critic of Trump. He’s also a very smart guy — if you’re not following him on Twitter, then you should remedy that right now. )
The two tweets just took off. I got 8,000 “likes” on the first one that you see below, and 5.8 thousand “likes” on the second one. (Both got more than a thousand retweets.) All sorts of people were retweeting them at Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the Senate GOP leadership. (If the secret police come for me, I love you all, by the way.)
I know it’s a silly thing to be proud of. But these limericks are … my most popular poems to date. I might have finally found my real niche.
Just for kicks, I’m sharing the other two that I wrote below as well.
I like Chris Cuomo. I think he’s a good man and a good journalist.
And I feel awkward agreeing with anything uttered by that swollen orange cyst in the Oval Office. (It’s due to a Russian infection … an STD from when they f***ed with our electoral process.)
But Cuomo shouldn’t have physically threatened a man who called him a name. (You can find video of his near-altercation today with a heckler right here.) I have actually never heard the term “Fredo” employed as a slur against Italian Americans, and I’m from New York. But that’s really beside the point anyway — the severity of the insult isn’t the issue here.
To me, this is a straightforward free speech issue. The nature of the Trump supporter’s act of speech was nonviolent. Whether or not is was obnoxious doesn’t matter.
The threat Cuomo made against his detractor was explicit and credible. He threatened to “throw [him] down these stairs,” which were presumably nearby.
Suppose that I call Donald Trump “Benedict Donald” (the obvious play on “Benedict Arnold” that has been making the rounds on the Internet for a long time now). Or consider me calling him a “swollen orange cyst” above. Should Trump or one of his supporters have the right to threaten to “throw me down the stairs?”
I know it sucks, but those of us who oppose or criticize Trump need to hold ourselves to the same standards to which we subject the other side — that is, if we wish to consider ourselves free speech advocates. I’m just trying to be intellectually honest here. If we support free speech across the board, then we have to support all of it.
On a related note, I see that Sean Hannity defended Cuomo on Twitter, and said “he has zero to apologize for.” This strikes me as particularly gracious gesture on Hannity’s part — crossing the cultural divide to support another journalist. And here I am being a stick in the mud.
All of my admitted emotional biases are confused here.
First, a particularly kind Twitter user in Argentina informed me that she translated one of my flash-fiction stories into Spanish. The title of the story is “I Bring Her Diamonds. My Hands Are Full of Them.” It originally appeared as a 100-word horror story in Microfiction Monday Magazine, and you can read it here.
Then, the talented Robert Hansen shared with me his printing proofs for some of the flash fiction he accepted for the Poems-for-All Project. Poems-for-All crafts matchbook-sized miniature books for poetry and flash fiction, which can be easily distributed to family and friends, or just “scattered like seeds” in true guerrilla poetry fashion. The flash fiction that Mr. Hansen selected include another 100-word horror story, “There in the Bags,” as well as my response to the online “Six-Word Science Story Challenge.”
The artwork that Mr. Hansen is downright terrific, and I can’t wait to share it with you after the miniature books are completed. For more information about Poems-for-All and Mr. Hansen’s unique publishing project, please visit his website here.
Oscar Wilde wrote that “life imitates art.” Well, let’s hope not. Because the world is so insane lately that I’m worried that my beloved dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature will come to be regarded as just … y’know … literature.
Nevertheless, if you do enjoy dystopian prose, poetry and photography, then remember to stay current “The Bees Are Dead.” You can do so quite easily by following B.A.D. on Twitter:
Stop in and enjoy some excellent poetry by Wayne F. Burke and Prerna Bakshi!
So I have a Twitter account now: https://twitter.com/ericrnolan1
I am giving up my Tumblr account, because I am pretty sure I am the only one on there.
So “Follow me!” as Johnny Rico so bravely shouted in “Starship Troopers.” I remain your number one source for poetry, kitten pictures, monsters, dream imagery as deus ex machina, shameless self-promotion, end-of-the-world stories, links to free e-books, and Sarah Palin jokes.
“C’mon you apes!! You want to live forever?!!”