January 20, 2019

Twitter Is a Construct

“What if Twitter isn’t real?

By that, I don’t just mean Russian bots talking to other Russian bots, liberal satirists fooling gullible conservatives, and cynical opinion-mongers conjuring panics out of nothing. There’s clearly a lot of literally fake news on Twitter, and it’s a problem.

Notwithstanding these flaws — or perhaps because of them — Twitter is still taken seriously as a medium. It’s supposed to be extraordinarily powerful and influential, able to make and break reputations at unprecedented speed.

But what if it isn’t? What if Twitter is mostly a closed ecosystem, relevant only to and within itself? What if its ability to shape the real world is, as they say, greatly exaggerated?

Consider the most potent Twitter user in the world: President Donald Trump. Trump’s tweets are scrutinized by hordes of journalists, both for a view into the president’s mood and views, and because they can easily be repackaged into a story that attracts additional attention (including attention on Twitter). But announcements Trump makes via Twitter are as often as not contradicted by his own staff or by the president himself in a subsequent tweet (as was the case — repeatedly — with regard to the purported truce in our trade war with China). There’s precious little evidence that they are a reliable guide to anything — certainly not more reliable than either old-fashioned gumshoe reporting and source greasing.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Not even what one might think of as the most basic tenet of any religion, a belief in the existence of God, is a prerequisite: Agnosticism is a key principle of at least one major school of Hindu philosophy."

"The presidency of any particular incumbent is relatively short... but the precedential consequences of impeaching a president without complying with the specific provisions of the Constitution “as it was written” are enduring."

"After news that a judge allegedly provided sexual favors to Bar Association president Efi Nave in exchange for her appointment, several politicians said in their responses that the Judicial Selection Committee needed to be the “Holy of Holies.”"

"Two new documentaries take on Billy McFarland and his disastrous music festival... the secret villain of this story all along: the subtle menace of social media marketing."

"Eating out, ordering in. Throw in a bagel here, a coffee there, and it all adds up. "It's definitely a challenge for people my age to save on food.""

"Popular music is shrinking. From 2013 to 2018, the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 fell from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. "

"Here in the good old U.S. of A, the third annual Women's March planned for Jan. 19 is in serious trouble, thanks to irreconcilable political disagreements."

"Nature, however, with its endless cycles of death and rebirth, fascinated her. Walking in the woods, she developed a method that has become the hallmark of her poetry, taking notice simply of whatever happens to present itself."

"Modern parents haven’t stopped playing favorites; they’ve just stopped doing it openly. Though few parents today will admit they have a favorite child, studies indicate that about two-thirds of parents do."

"The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised."

"Sphen and Magic looked like they would make great, diligent, careful egg-warming parents. They made the biggest nest, and they sat on it constantly."

"How YMHAs, followed by synagogue-centers, and finally JCCs have tried—in different ways—to balance Judaism and Jewishness, by bringing Jews together in intellectual, spiritual, and physical pursuits"