Friday, March 6, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Hey Stupid, Personal Tweet Is an Oxymoron

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

rs_500x280-140720115955-KUWTK_914_16I’m on record decrying much of social media as little more than a virtual bordello of fame whores.

A selfie is not just about adoring one’s own reflection like Narcissus; it’s also about taking a picture of that reflection to publish for all the world to see. But am I the only one who rues the cognitive dissonance that has turned self-obsessed showoffs from laughingstocks into standard-bearers of what is now not only acceptable but required public behavior?

You’d never know, for example, that just years ago any self-respecting man would be mortified if he were caught checking himself out in the mirror. Now the Internet is littered with as many selfies of preening men as women. But nothing irritates me in this context quite like the way people convey every private sentiment — from condolences to birthday greetings and romantic love — only by tweeting or facebooking it for everyone to read.

(“Introduction,” The iPINIONS Journal, Vol. IX, p. xxi, 2014)

Don’t get me started on people who post the most outrageous things their addled minds can fathom because, evidently, this is the surest way to become a trending topic. For them, the additional attention their inevitable apology generates is just icing on the cake.

Nothing is more irritating/dismaying, though, than mainstream media trolling social media for trending topics to broadcast as breaking news. I mean, why the hell is Lester Holt reporting on the NBC Nightly News what some pseudonymous twit tweets on Twitter?!

But let me hasten to clarify that I’m also on record readily conceding that social media provide the most effective and cheapest ways ever to promote one’s business or, far more often than not, oneself. And I’m acutely mindful of the role social media can play (and have played) in organizing, galvanizing, and/or publicizing everything from political protests to flash mobs.

Coco-Chanel-Surrounded-by-008I just shudder to think what it portends for Western civilization that a no-talent boob like Kim Kardashian is an even bigger celebrity than a cultural icon like Coco Chanel ever was. Indeed, such is Kim’s trendsetting influence, across all social media, that designers like Karl Lagerfeld are falling all over themselves to feature her sister Kendall as their muse, hoping to bask in and profit from Kim’s (okay, Kimye’s) reflected glow.

Over two decades ago, the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan fatefully lamented the trend of “defining deviancy down,” which normalized previously unacceptable behavior. Soon thereafter reality TV became a cultural phenomenon — with the salacious, drug-induced antics of Anna Nicole Smith passing for primetime entertainment.

Today, I fatefully lament the trend of people using social media to convey personal messages. A chat I had with an old acquaintance yesterday (via phone) demonstrated how normalized this previously unacceptable form of “human interaction” has become.

funeral_selfieFor, despite having access to my personal phone number and e-mail address, she demanded to know why I failed to acknowledge the “heartfelt condolences” she tweeted upon learning of a death in my family.

But her indignation turned immediately to consternation when I asked her to explain why she posted her condolences on Twitter, instead of conveying them to me on the phone (or via e-mail). I kid you not, I might as well had asked a stupid question like, why do people go to restaurants, instead of eating at home?

Alas, I fear the expression of such sentiments these days is intended more to draw attention to the person tweeting them than to comfort the person (who should be) receiving them.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.58.16 AMI respectfully submit that there’s something profoundly dehumanizing in people thinking that no thought, expression, or deed – no matter how personal or intimate – has any redeeming value unless it’s posted on social media.

I realize, of course, that trying to correct this cultural trend is even more quixotic than trying to win the war on drugs.

In any event, for the record, I am not, and never have been, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, or any other social media platform. It follows, therefore, that if you sent a message to me on any of them, I never saw it. Not that it was for my eyes only anyway….

At long last, is nothing personal, intimate, or sacred…?

Related commentaries:
Keep your selfies to yourself

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 12:12 pm

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