“…in today’s culture of outrage, some version of that humorless Wisconsinite is lurking on every social media feed and every comment thread. … As you read this column, he is whipping himself up into a righteous frenzy over my use of “he” as an indefinite pronoun even though “they” is blatantly incorrect and “he or she” takes up too much space in a newspaper column and sounds incredibly awkward to boot. And he will have a point. Moreover, he will have every right to make those points with as much umbrage and indignation as he likes. But guess what? The objects of his scorn have every right to ignore them.”—The new, tiresome culture of outrage.
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”—Anne Frank
What does it feel like to be you? Yeah. It feels good to be you, doesn’t it? It feels good, because there’s one thing that you are — you’re the only one that’s you, right?. So you’re the only one that’s you, and we get confused sometimes — or I do, I think everyone does — you try to compete. You think, Dammit, someone else is trying to be me. Someone else is trying to be me. But I don’t have to armor myself against those people; I don’t have to armor myself against that idea if I can really just relax and feel content in this way and this regard.
If I can just feel, just think now: How much do you weigh? This is a thing I like to do with myself when I get lost and I get feeling funny. How much do you weigh? Think about how much each person here weighs and try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bottom right now. Parts in your feet and parts in your bum. Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave, and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere. There’s just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate up and down, from your top to your bottom. Up and down from your top to your spine. And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile, that makes you want to feel good, that makes you want to feel like you could embrace yourself.
So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.
“For a long time we couldn’t get advertising. The advertisers would say, ‘I’m not going to advertise in that disgusting magazine.’ But that soon changed. At 295,000 it was disgusting. At 305,000 it was an important audience that needed to be reached on its own terms.”—Henry Beard on starting The National Lampoon
“Joan Rivers had a dry pussy.” At first, the words just hung there, as no one knew exactly what to do. Of course I started laughing hysterically, and everyone else, remembering who we were there to honor, followed suit. Howard Stern actually choked back tears as he continued – “Joan’s pussy was so dry it was like a sponge – so that when she got in the bathtub – whooooosh – all the water would get absorbed in there! Joan said that if Whitney Houston had as dry a pussy as Joan’s, she would still be alive today…”—Howard Stern’s eulogy to Joan Rivers, as told by Margaret Cho.
“BuzzFeed is to journalism what Geraldo is to Walter Cronkite. It sucks. It is built on meanest of readers’ instincts. These endless stream of crass listicles are an insult to the human intelligence and goodness you personify. Even Business Insider, a champion practitioner of cheap click-bait schemes, looks like The New York Review of Books compared to BuzzFeed. And don’t tell me that, by hiring a couple of “seasoned editors and writers” as the PR spin puts it, BuzzFeed will become a noble and notable contributor of information. We never saw a down/mass market product morphing into a premium media. You can delete as many posts as you wish, it won’t alter BF’s peculiar DNA.”—Frédéric Filloux, an open letter to Ben Horowitz.
“My advice to women comedians is: First of all, don’t worry about the money. Love the process. You don’t know when it’s gonna happen. Louis C.K. started hitting in his 40s; he’d been doing it for 20 years. And don’t settle. I don’t want to ever hear, “It’s good enough.” Then it’s not good enough. Don’t ever underestimate your audience. They can tell when it isn’t true. Also: Ignore your competition. A Mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: “Run your own race, put on your blinders.” Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come.”—Joan Rivers.
“I gotta tell you, when I go and look at my Twitter feed, on the one hand, I feel that old pull of scroll-scroll-scroll, bit-bit-bit, chomp-chomp-chomp. But on the other hand, I also feel repulsed by it. I just don’t want to go back in there. I don’t want to go back in to this place where every little thing that happens every day is like the biggest deal in the world, where everybody’s gotta comment on everything and people are worried about who’s paying attention, who’s retweeting them. It used to seem like the whole world to me and now it seems like this little pocket of the world. And I just worry that if I go back in, I’m going to lose perspective all over again.”—What It’s Like Taking a Yearlong Internet Break.
Twitter is awesome. It’s given me a lot of fantastic things, put me in touch with people I would have never been able to interact with, and it regularly shows me pictures of kittens.
But here’s the thing I’m just recently coming to grips with: it’s kind of a misery vacuum. Two tiny things combined to fully open my eyes to this yesterday.
One, I was offline for a few hours because I’m kinda ill, and when I came back on, I found that I had missed a series of epic arguments about sexism and video games and harassment and etc. Normally these would be right up my alley, but I had missed them, so I started thinking about what I had actually missed out on. Further, these other people involved didn’t miss these arguments, they were front and center, and what had they gained from participating?
Not much, that I could see. No one had archived these Twitter battles and put them on a website as an example of great conversations. No one’s minds had been changed. No one felt they won or lost. All that happened, from what I witnessed retroactively, is that two people with wildly differing opinions typed at each other and then stopped. I had missed out on my opportunity to get angry and obsessively refresh my feed, waiting to see what the other person had for me this time. Was that missing much?
Two, my friend Shadi was in a Twitter conversation that I just happened to catch the tail end of, and some other guy kept tweeting at her long after the original conversation was over. She typed something like “Leave me alone. If we were in a public place I would call the police”, and that really struck me, both because of how true it was, and also because I thought “Well shit, you two would NEVER been in the same public place.”
Because this country is big enough and diverse enough that you never have to interact with most of it. And that’s not terrible. The Internet has changed that, for better and for worse.
I think it does us all a great amount of good to get out of our own experiences and see things from other people’s perspectives, people we have literally nothing in common with, to see why they feel the way they do based on all the millions of things that go into a life. I am all for experiences like that, but Twitter isn’t the place to make that happen. Going and interacting with people where they live is how you do that. Volunteering is how you do that. Eating in restaurants in neighborhoods you’ve never seen is how you do that. Making friends different from yourself is how you do that. Twitter isn’t about having eye-opening conversations, it’s about finding the people that disagree with you and shitting on them. Period. It’s about voicing your opinions, well thought-out or not, and then having those opinions picked apart by strangers.
And that kinda sucks. That’s not helpful to move any dialogue along, or make any changes, or come to any understandings. It’s just spinning its own terrible angry wheels.
So I’m gonna stop having debates on Twitter. It’s not worth my time anymore, and I don’t need more things to be angry about.
Further, I’m no longer going to click on links of compilations of angry, racist tweets about things like Indian kids being finalists in a spelling bee. I never had to hear from people who get that hateful over a spelling bee before, and I don’t know why I need to start now. Before Twitter, these people were gathering at work and at their various meeting places and talking about how the country is going to hell in a handbasket, and I never even knew about it. That’s okay with me.
Being witness to this kind of talk on Twitter doesn’t open people’s minds at all. It doesn’t do me any good to know people are racist in America- I am already aware of that fact, and experiencing their racism doesn’t educate me or them. It’s just more anger vacuum.
It’s not your job to bear witness to the hate of every idiot who managed to sign up for a Twitter account. It’s certainly not your job to respond to them and correct them. Focus your intentions on things that can actually bring about change, focus your intentions on seeking to understand and empathize rather than shouting someone down in 140 characters.
This is great, and exactly how I feel about the internet in general right now, not just twitter. I love thoughtful discussion and healthy debate, but it seems like most widely used venues of communication on the internet offer neither right now. I’m not sure what the solution is. A lot of the really toxic thoughts seems to come from venues that thrive on anonymity. I’m not singling out 4chan, I’m saying it’s still a trifling thing to create an anonymous account on twitter, tumblr, even facebook, from which you can hurl abuse and vitriol.
Say what you will about the negative aspects of presenting our identities online for public scrutiny, but it does provide a reasonable amount of accountability. Most people become far less radical in thought or aggressive in tone when the idea of their mother or their boss or their pastor reading their words becomes a real possibility. Perhaps we need to get more comfortable with our own personal transparency on the internet before we can be mature enough to let our voice communicate our views without malice or hyperbole. But hiding behind an avatar or string of numbers or even an assumed identity we find comfort in is giving the negative corners of our mind a too-accessible outlet to continue patterns of abuse.