I first dipped my toe into the murky pool of Twitter back in 2012. Aside from curiosity, I was hoping to provide a small “value-added” service to my editing and book design clients, most of whom were social media shy and in severe need of marketing help.
I entered slowly, with great skepticism, and with little strategy. Through the years, I’ve come to appreciate the social networking possibilities of Twitter. By design, I’ve garnered a small following that feels manageable. I hear the complaints about Twitter’s wacky algorithms, news byte culture, mindless memes, kitten and kid GIFs, and false information. I agree that these are some of the downsides of the platform.
Yes, it’s easy to see a scathing headline, and in a moment of outrage to hit the Retweet button—the equivalent of Facebook’s infamous share button. What I’ve found is that the more scathing the headline, and no matter the direction—left or right—the more likely the information is partially, if not entirely, untrue. It is particularly tempting to swipe the Retweet button when the Tweet has come from a known and trusted follower. I’m learning to second guess that powerful urge, especially where politics and world affairs come into play.
It’s important to always double check where a flaming headline came from. If it’s a bonafide news link, I may click to read more. But links from 100%FedUp, Being Liberal, Blue State, Left Action, Upworthy, American Free Press, for example, will keep me scrolling. Certain words appear to be a dead giveaway for something fishy:
As many flame on the left as on the right, and rarely are they worth the time to explore. When I find a news source that might be plausible, yet I’m wary about it, I may check its ranking on a site like https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/ . A good quick source to check the validity of a fantastical global rumor is Snopes, which ranks very well as a least biased website.
But for the curious mind, there are upsides to the Twitterverse. I find myself reading articles from a wider range of sources than I did when I relied only upon the sites I’d placed in my Favorites bar. It’s like being in the periodicals section of the library. I have access to:
- The Wall Street Journal
- Christian Science Monitor
- Washington Post
- Sacramento Bee
- Mayo Clinic
- National Geographic
- National Institutes of Health
The most unexpected benefit to my Twitterverse is the personal connections I’ve made with individuals who share my values and interests. I’ve met a host of fabulous writers and photographers who take me around the globe with them. They are kind and supportive. Yes, you could say they are only virtual friends, however when a stranger plunks down money for my just-released book, I call that a substantial relationship. I am actually in awe of how this works. Most of my Facebook contacts know me, either directly or once removed. But my Twitter followers have never looked me in the eye. I’m humbled beyond belief that these people have enough confidence in me to spend money on my words.
Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.
And of course, I must force myself to blatantly market said book. My apologies.
Amidst the horrible turn the national news took this week, I feel deflated. I avoid news, opinion, and commentary. It all makes my head spin and my stomach roil. I found comfort with a big, fat, saucy, spicy, Chinese dinner.
From the ubiquitous fortune cookie, out tumbled my fortune: Eat your fruits and vegetables to strengthen your health.
p style=”text-align:left;”>I am perplexed. It’s not like fruits and vegetables are prevalent in Chinese food. What clairvoyance drives whoever writes these things? If we all ate more fruits and vegetables would world health improve, thereby reducing the prevalence of demented misbehavior? If only it were true.
People and events map the time line of history. Pivot points mark changes in direction from which a city, a state, a nation, or the whole world spins into new directions. History is littered with pivot points. The ones I’ve experienced mapped not only the time line of world history but also the time line of my own life. These pivot points are recorded in images that evolve from pop culture to national icon.
Images spark instant recognition of a time and place in history. Sometimes the artists share in the fame of their work. Many, however, live quietly under the radar of public scrutiny.
Incredible color film footage stopped the nation’s collective heart as it looped on network television after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The sight of this film transports me back to that day in 1963 when I came home for lunch to find my mother unexpectedly watching daytime television and ranting about the news. When I returned to school, I found students and teachers alike in tears. I was in the fifth grade. The man behind the camera was amateur Abraham Zapruder who died in 1970, a slightly richer man for his footage, but one haunted by the vision he’d captured.
Stark black and white images document the American civil rights movement. Another 1963 photograph__the one of Martin Luther King, right hand punctuating his “I Have a Dream” speech, raises the fine hairs on my arms. The award winning photojournalist, Bob Adelman, who took this photo, has recently released his newest book, Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to The Struggle For Civil Rights, coinciding with the new Martin Luther King Memorial in the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The portrait of fully-clothed, arrow-straight Yoko Ono cuddled by her naked husband, John Lennon, stirs loathing in some viewers and a drug-hazed reminiscence in others. Annie Liebovitz’s name is nearly as well recognized as the many celebrities she has arranged before her lens.
Fashion photographer, Richard Drew, was one of many in the right place at the wrong time on September 11, 2001. As a man fell to his death from one of the Twin Towers, Drew’s eye was behind the lens, capturing the agony of a nation looking over a precipice to the unknown.
In 1968, a stark reality flickered into America’s living rooms. The black and white image of the point-blank execution of a Viet Cong guerrilla by Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan was one of several that turned already-wavering, public opinion, along with my own, solidly against America’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Quoted in the New York Times, Eddie Adams, the Pulitzer prize winning photographer who took the image, said …”you never know who is looking at your pictures or how your pictures are going to affect other people’s lives. I wasn’t out to save the world. I was out to get a story.” And this is perhaps my point.
Who, in the ever growing club of images masters today or tomorrow, will steer memory for future generations? The volume of images grows exponentially each year. Will the cream always rise to the top? How will today, be remembered in the future? And how will the images that flash before us today, affect the trajectory of history 50 years from now?