One more word about Twitter, then I'll shut up
The Column: 04.29.22
I once knew a librarian who at age 34 fell in love with a poet she met in a bar who, though sober, announced that he adored her. For years she’d only dated men who were looking for a sympathetic sister, but this fellow lusted after her and suddenly she was shopping for a bigger bed and learning to samba. The problem was that his poems were bleak and not ingeniously bleak but dull bleak, disconnected dark images of dread and dismay. He wrote one for her and she said, “It’s nice,” and he said, “I can tell you don’t like it,” and she said, “It’s sort of dark,” and he ran out the door (he was living with her) and she hasn’t heard from him since.
It can be dangerous to tell the truth. Why couldn’t she have said, “I love it, it’s one of your best”? His poems weren’t hurting anybody. Polar bears weren’t dying from them, they weren’t poisoning the rivers. Let the man be a bad poet and eventually he’ll find his way into marketing or lawn mowing or some other gainful employment.
That’s how I feel about COVID. Yes, people suffered, some terribly, but it also had its bright side. Millions escaped their cubicle jungles and got to work at home in their pajamas. We skipped big fundraising dinners and games where unmasked people sing the school fight song, emitting clouds of infected droplets with every “Fight, fight, fight,” and we regained the pleasure of staying home and playing Scrabble with a loved one. Colleges shut down and some kids who would’ve majored in women’s studies and wound up grinding out lattes at Starbucks went online and found out about Bitbond and earned a few million and retired to the Maldives. Some kids who planned to become novelists went into house painting instead and are happier.
We learned how to use the telephone again. Social media is what it is, but on the phone you can enjoy chitchat, banter, palaver, gossip. On Instagram, you just run up a flag, and on the phone you kid each other, tell jokes, banish loneliness, whereas with Twitter you’re just throwing manure at the barn wall. I don’t do FaceTime because I look like Cotton Mather with a migraine, but with audio I can be sort of charming.
While the virus hangs around, we’re all living in the present. Our kids and grandkids own the future and I worry about them. I worry how they will deal with medical insurance without reading the ream of microscopic print that grants the Company (hereinafter known as Beelzebub) the right to the client’s firstborn. I worry about the Supreme Court now that it has six federalists who commute to work on horseback.
I have no right to rag on the Court; I’ve done dumb things that make your mistakes look like inspired genius. When I retired in 2016, I gave away my company to my former employer for free, and a year later the CEO called me on the phone and fired me, no “Thank you” or anything. I said, “Okay.”
I once had a best-selling book and used the profits to open my own bookstore in a basement in St. Paul, expecting long lines of shoppers, but no, Amazon was taking over the world. It’s so easy to buy stuff from Amazon, you can do it in your sleep, and people do. Amazon owns the rights to the Bible. You can’t even use the word “ishkabibble” without paying them. The first hundred bucks in the collection basket at church goes to them because they own the Lord’s Prayer. So my bookstore floated away on red ink and I thought of having my head examined but shrinks don’t deal with dumb, it’s beyond their scope. Bookstore ownership was my dream and when we’re asleep the mind takes its own path. The most righteous are capable of dreams they could not confess to others for fear of excommunication. St. Paul had dreams he didn’t include in his epistles. Solomon did dumb things. Wisdom comes from experience, and experience includes stupidity. Theology is about truth but life is about banana peels.
So it’s good to see the world’s richest man pay $44 billion for Twitter. It’s a good investment, like cornering the market on mosquitoes. Think of the blood you’ll collect every year. The mind boggles as it never boggled before.
This week’s featured program comes from April 2016 in Galveston, Texas with special guests, Jennifer Rivera and Stephanie Davis.
Also along for the ride we have our Royal Academy of Radio Actors (Sue Scott, Tim Russell and Fred Newman) and our House Band with pianist Rich Dworsky, drummer Bernie Dresel, Larry Kohut on the bass, Richard Kriehn on the mandolin and fiddle, and guitarist Chris Siebold. Join us on FACEBOOK at 5:00 p.m. this Saturday or if you can’t wait to listen, check out this LINK.