Cold this early-evening Saturday here in California’s Central Valley. Another near-typical seasonal day with our shitty tule fog heavy in the morning and burning off into a nice, sunny afternoon — weather the weather.
A major concern is whether we can.
Beyond the weather outside, the tempo of America’s social/political environment is channeled through one word: Chaos. Top of the glare of shit is unmitigated narcissistic assholes commanding our attention, drawing our sight away from really shitty shit like climate change, or war. Just in the past few days — the T-Rump with his idiotic hero-worship cards (not art, unless grifting is an art), and his brother in shitness, Elon Musk, suspended a bunch of top-rate journalists from Twitter yesterday, then in a move of petty, nastiness, reinstated them.
Clumsy and obviously shitty — via NPR this evening:
The accounts that went dark included Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and journalist Aaron Rupar.
The On Friday evening, Musk put the decision of whether to reinstate suspended accounts up for a public vote. He tweeted an informal poll which asked Twitter users to choose when to “unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time.”
According to the poll, 58.7 percent of voters favored lifting the suspensions immediately over 41.3 percent of respondents who said Musk should wait seven more days.
Rupar, whose account was reinstated on Friday, said the suspensions signaled Twitter’s instability.
“It’s a clear illustration that it is no longer a rules-based company,” Rupar told NPR. “It’s basically a company based on Elon Musk’s whims and the terms of service depend on his mood each day.”
Reporters and political writers are marked, and not with pride:
Glad to hear we’re not all bad pic.twitter.com/wjUE6dtVqI
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) December 17, 2022
We live in an era brand new to the brain, it appears. Communications/politics/celebrity-philosophy has come a long, long way in a short, short time span, but assholes displaying/owning this shit aren’t always anywhere near good examples of human beings. Narcissistic and highly incompetent shitheels suck all the light out of a room and suffer the rest of us to endure it — we just can’t peel our eyes away.
In that regard, Alexandra Petri, a delightful writer of usually undelightful things, hits on the T-Rump/Elon Musk spectacle at The Washington Post yesterday morning (I just spied it this afternoon) –and concocted really one of the better encapsulations of our current predicament.
In “The Madness of King George,” there are several scenes where very learned doctors dedicate considerable time and effort to squinting at the contents of the king’s chamber pot. Watching the movie, you think, “Well, at least we are at a stage of civilization where we don’t have to do that! We do not live in a world that hinges so completely on the condition of one or two powerful men that it is worth our while to spend hours every day examining their stools in minute detail and trying to draw conclusions from them.” But then Elon Musk buys Twitter, and — I can think of no better analogy for what has ensued.
Petri then reviews the shitstorm horror of the Musk/Twitter chaos. Despite the Musk-rat being ‘astoundingly boring,’ we the public nevertheless can’t avert our complete attention — much like T-Rump — and that’s a total suck-hole.
Petri’s conclusion I’ve cut-and=aste in full — it’s that straight-on good:
I have complained about this before. But one of the minor, in the scheme of things, yet persistent frustrations of the Trump era was the sheer amount of brainpower that all kinds of people — good, busy, even witty — had to spend staring into the unfathomable abyss of his words and actions and trying to extract meaning from them. What was covfefe? People spent hours on that! The sheer volume of analysis and jokes and grunting, straining effort to make sense of what made Donald Trump tick — and what made his head open up and a screaming bird shoot out of it at regular intervals — was debilitating.
There are so many people to know about on this planet. Some of them are pleasant and others are wise and many of them are kind and a few of them are funny and polite to waiters. Some of them possess remarkable skills and others are tremendous listeners and still others know what to do if you spill certain kinds of things on certain types of surfaces. Lots and lots of them own cats, and when they go online, all they do is post pictures of those cats doing cute and interesting things. There are so many people who are interesting. And instead we have to follow Elon Musk and Donald Trump. We have to watch them host SNL, and read their inane tweets, and know precisely what they are going through at all times, because their whims can cost people jobs and ruin lives.
There is something desperately boring about despots and plutocrats. And one of the frustrating consequences of an unequal society is that the rest of us have to care what is going on with them. Now Trump might be gone, but we still have a main character we don’t want. Not that this is a new phenomenon. The ancient historian Suetonius may not have been the most accurate source, but seeing people like Musk and Trump in action, I feel more sympathetic to his accounts of what boring people, given power answerable to their whims, wind up doing. I thought it was ridiculous when he said Nero, literally the emperor of Rome, decided that, actually, what he wanted to be was an actor — but here is Musk, one of the richest men on the planet, who has decided for no reason whatsoever that what he wants to be is a Twitter troll! And not even a funny one; just as transphobic and anti-vax and awful as the bog standard. I’m sorry I doubted you, Suetonius! Maybe if we are lucky Musk will start doing more of the fun caesar things, such as trying to get a horse into the Senate, and will stop his mission to turn Twitter into a hateful cesspool! But somehow I doubt it.
I hate that we have to pay attention. Our lives will be impacted if Trump is again elected president, say, or the roads are suddenly filled with exploding cars, or if the place where journalists go to water-cooler about breaking news gets seized up and its rules rewritten, seemingly arbitrarily, on the fly. Mark Zuckerberg changes an algorithm, and livelihoods in the content economy shudder in terror. I would like nothing better than to not have to know or care about these people. With the amount of time I pour into them, I could have invented Narnia twice. But instead we are sitting there squinting into the king’s stool.
Reality smarts, like a hard, nasty, and spiteful pinch.
And to play us out, Aaron Rupar on CNN this evening with an interview on the Twitter bullshit:
I joined @PamelaBrownCNN to discuss why I decided to just delete the tweet that got me suspended so my account would be restored instead of appealing and fighting it out. Watch the full interview below. https://t.co/Tdvf4WL7cf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 18, 2022
Newshound or not, here we are once again…