By D. Allan Kerr
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not sure how this whole Twitter thing works.
Until recently I thought it was mainly something pop stars used to keep junior-high school girls up to date on their favorite ice cream. Or a mechanism for these same junior-high girls to dish gossip.
I definitely never thought of it as something utilized by grown-up men. Or real men, at least.
I have a hard time imagining hard-charging generals of the past like “Blood and Guts” Patton or “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf tweeting deep into the night – in fact, it doesn’t even seem right to print the word “tweet” next to their name.
But really, who can say? For all I know, Teddy Roosevelt – a real man if there ever was one – might have used Twitter on occasion.
But apparently there are individuals of the male gender – not real men, but, you know, beings who physically qualify for this category – who spend hours and hours tweeting. And I think that’s sweet. It’s sweet to tweet.
If you feel you have to do so, however, it would probably be a good idea not to say things that make you sound really, really, really stupid.
Let’s say someone says something you don’t agree with, and you want to challenge them on it. I suppose Twitter is as good a place to do it as any, if you can’t speak face-to-face, man-to-man. Like in the good old days.
But if so, you might not want to attack the other individual personally. If you have a counterpoint to their argument then by all means, go for it.
If you do go after them personally, though, it might be a smart thing to actually know who they are.
For example, you may come across as pretty stupid if you say someone is “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results,” and then find out the guy was, quite literally, on the front lines of the civil rights struggle during one of the most turbulent times in our country’s history.
You might seem like an absolute idiot if it turns out that this guy, while still in his early 20s, actually led marches into a lion’s den of hateful vigilantes with billy clubs, knowing he was going to be beaten badly or possibly killed but that it might ultimately lead to a better world.
What if he was one of the original Freedom Riders of 1961; an organizer of the legendary 1963 March on Washington D.C. where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech; a leader of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” confrontation in Selma, Alabama?
Wouldn’t you feel like a bumbling imbecile if this man you insulted, this real man, wasn’t beaten just once or twice but again and again and again, and kept coming back for more, because of something bigger than his own ego?
What if this was a guy who – without hyperbole or bombast – actually put his life on the line to fight for the dignity and equality of millions of Americans, in a place as deadly and hostile as a battlefield, where people he knew were brutally murdered for doing the same work?
Imagine how embarrassed you should feel, after saying this person was “all talk,” if he still carries today the physical scars from these numerous battles?
I suppose, if this guy is a U.S. congressman, you could belittle his efforts on behalf of his community. But then people might wonder why this same community has re-elected him to the same office 14 times, usually by more than 70 percent of the vote.
You might try to portray his district as “crime-infested,” but folks checking out pictures of upscale high-rises and picturesque family parks there might question if you have any clue what the hell you’re talking about.
And ultimately, your own words slighting this much bigger man could be held up as a mirror to your own actions.
You might be perceived as an utter buffoon if you devoted your own prime years to dodging the draft and avoiding military service, while he was fighting for civil rights.
Some might point out that, at the same age when he was helping to lead a national human rights movement, you were accused of racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit and had to reach a settlement.
People might feel compelled to point out that Twitter itself, by its very nature, is “all talk, no action,” and that your shrill little tantrum tweets pale in comparison to the actions of the man you tried to demean.
Folks might ponder the courage of the things this man did before the age of 30, and wonder what action you ever undertook for the betterment of mankind in your first 70 years.
They might wonder, looking back over the remarkable events of the past several decades, what sacrifices you made that did not benefit you. They might notice that, so far, you’re the one who’s been all talk.
But this is just one small example.
The point is, if someone insists on communicating thru tweets, he should at least try to apply some forethought and integrity.
Otherwise, if you’re, say, Commander in Chief of the United States of America, people might be worried that you’re bringing to the office a level of stupidity that could be considered “unpresidented.”
(January 21, 2017)