What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Twitter?
I will doubtless have more to say on the subject in the days to come, but I’m watching my relationship with the thing called Twitter change and I’d like to offer a few words and images.
I hopped on years ago as a way of heeding the counsel of my literary agent. By securing “@DavidDark” early, I was given to understand that I’d have one more platform for marketing my content. This was true.
What I couldn’t have guessed was that it would serve as an avenue for forming friendships with people across the world. And reader, it really has. I have receipts.
I believe I remember where I was standing when this little prayer occurred to me and I decided to chisel it on the Internet:
It may disappear now. I never got paid for it and I never got “verified,” but, at last count, it’s received at least 373,000 “impressions.” I only know what Twitter tells me.
The reactions and responses that followed were data. They aren’t in a book, but, at least for now, they’re publicly available online. They’re a chronicling. They’re documentation. Beth Gilmore once said art is documentation. I believe this is true.
Here’s another thing it once occurred to me to say on Twitter:
For those who don’t know, “RT” refers to “retweet” which is a form of amplification. I give a lot of thought to amplification these days. We become what we amplify, I sometimes like to say. Here’s another one: Amplify thoughtfulness everywhere. We don’t need Twitter to do that. We can share the microphone, defer to others, advocate, defend, and vouch for people all day long. This is how the work gets done. There’s more than one way to cast a vote. It all adds up.
Here in Tennessee, Dr. Jason B. Martin is running for governor. He wants to expand Medicaid, end forced birth militias, legalize cannabis, release nonviolent offenders caged for cannabis possession, and fund public education. He’s had a terrible time getting amplified.
You can hear his voice though, thanks to public radio. We have a program called This Is Nashville. I say “We” because I’m the public. Listen here.
I wish Governor Lee was in this photo, but he declined to appear. He’s also refused to debate his challenger. This is sad to me. Bill Lee once spoke of gubernatorial debates as a Tennessee tradition. What’s sadder to me is that so many high roller pundits and politicians who live in our beautiful state keep right on talking and acting as if all of this is normal. We become what we normalize.
Dr. Martin appears on grainy video here and there while Bill Lee’s donors buy ad time which puts him on screens across the state playing in leaves with children. It’s ugly. I bet Bill Lee never imagined it would come to this. I don’t think of people as evil. But I think it’s obvious that he’s succumbed to evil. May he know joy and the root of joy and be delivered from suffering and the root of suffering.
Our tiny little avoidances of conflict add up over time and yield with humiliating exactness the state(s) we’re in. I should be more specific with the “our.” I have in mind white people in Tennessee and across the country. We can do better. Here’s more on that.
When we talk about Twitter, we’re talking about content, mediation, amplification, and access. We’re talking about who we credit and why. Who we excuse and why. Who we lift up and why. It all add ups.
Good luck, everybody.