My Time In Twitter Jail

It was only a brief stay, and the time of it couldn’t have been better. You see, I go to sleep at exactly the right time for me, but probably somewhat earlier than a lot of other people. I also tend to shut down the computer after dinner and not turn it back on until the following morning, when I awake at around 5 a.m.

That means that there is a period of time during which others are busy defending their feelings idiocy honor on twitter while I’m dreaming of world peace and other happy things. When I finally checked my email, I learned that I had been in twitter jail.

What twits did the twitter gods demand I delete?

The twit was from July 1st, and included a quoted twit of another person gleefully proud of putting two young girls into “fuck Trump” t-shirts. It was sufficiently controversial that Snopes tried to investigate whether it was a real pic. It was of concern to me as it reflected the extreme of anger on the part of certain parents so as to compromise their children by putting them in such a needlessly vulgar shirt.

Twitter demanded I delete the twit, which didn’t concern me. It was already about 6 weeks old, and the lifespan of a twit is a few days at best. I didn’t care, and deleting it raised no problems for me. But what I learned was that I had already served my sentence for being twitter-bad for this TOS violation for reasons that completely elude me. Upon deletion, I was free to twit, having paid my dues to society twitter.

I let my friend Ken know about my brief imprisonment, so brief that I never got to break rocks into stones or even plan to dig a tunnel under the wall. He twitted in support of my freedom.

So Twitter has locked @ScottGreenfield for a rather mild critique of someone putting their kids in “fuck Trump” t-shirts. Remember: this isn’t a public space. You’re in a disturbed person’s house, and they may throw you out for erratic reasons. Good work, @TwitterSafety @Jack

It wasn’t that Ken was a fan of my twit, which he thought was me being my curmudgeonly self, but he similarly found my lock out to be arbitrary and capricious. Not that twitter CEO Jack Dorsey isn’t entitled to be arbitrary on his private platform, but it’s frowned upon by many people.

Ken’s twit was, as his usually are, retwitted by many. He’s got a great many followers on twitter, as he well deserves. He’s informative, illuminating, and far more funny and hip than someone like me. There were also some replies to his twit, which appeared in my timeline.

I’m not entirely clear on what “get-off-my-lawn” means, other than old person sensibilities that aren’t shared by the young set. Maybe someone can explain this to me using words that an old man can understand. I looked it up at Urban Dictionary, but didn’t find the definition helpful.

Then there were the empathetic twits of support.

This struck me as more curious. I asked Ken about it, and he explained it to me as nothing more than someone expressing their honest view of another person.

Do you shrink at all from stating forthrightly your view of people?  No.

Well, that’s largely true, and I don’t doubt that Ken has a far better grasp of the sensibilities of digital natives than I do. But it didn’t quite sate my curiosity. While I had no clue who this person is, I didn’t doubt the sincerity of his twit or that he was entitled to his feelings as to my charm, ass-ness, politics* or take on the law, and to express them in a twit. There is no question as to his right to feel as he does and to utter his feelings.

What was curious was the need to Gertrude.** It struck me that as much as people agreed that my being put in twitter jail for a “mild critique,” was wrong, they couldn’t say so without prefacing their condemnation against twitter without first expressing their disapproval, perhaps disavowal, of me?

Perhaps I’m so despised that no support can be expressed without first clarifying their disapproval, lest their following conflate condemnation of the lock out with support for me? Perhaps this was sending me a message that some random person on the twitters feels I’m an ass so I change my entire worldview to seek their approval? Perhaps this is virtue signaling their disapproval?

There has always been a compulsion on the part of some to preface agreement on an assertion with “I don’t always agree with you,” which always struck me as silly, since there’s no reason why anyone should and there’s even less reason why it would matter to me. But this was far a more explicit, if incomprehensible,*** Gertrude.

My curiosity isn’t that someone finds me insufficiently charming, or an ass. That’s bound to happen, as I neither can please everyone nor have any interest in trying. Rather, my curiosity is why young people feel the need to Gertrude. Or, to be more precise, why they fear the absence of their disavowal will bring them disrepute or worse.

As for me, I slept through my twitter jailing, so it ended up not mattering beyond the fact that it happened for such an inexplicable reason. And as most people of my generation will tell you, dear young people, we neither strive to achieve your approval nor give a damn. We hope to pay forward whatever wisdom we’ve managed to accumulate, and leave it to you to decide whether to accept or reject it.

My generation doesn’t need our self-esteem bolstered by other peoples’ “likes.” Your grandpa doesn’t run his thoughts past you for your approval. This curmudgeon sees it disturbing that yours does, and that you feel it necessary to make your generational allegiances clear to your fans at every opportunity, lest they believe you to be of the wrong tribe.

*It’s unclear to me what anybody means when they refer to my politics. As I see it, my politics are wherever facts and logic take me without regard to political party or ideology. I suspect my refusal to be tribal means that I’m in the “other” tribe to young people, who can’t conceive of anyone guided by principles rather than ideology. I think that’s unfortunate. They may not.

**In classical Gertruding, it’s unnecessary to preface an assertion with caveats because they’re obvious and should not need to be said. It may not be obvious that I’m uncharming and an ass, so this may not fit within the classical Gertruding paradigm.

***Expressions such as “you’re an ass” or “you’re a dick” are prevalent among young people, but have no actual meaning to someone of my generation. Calling a name provides no information. Then again, when they try to explain, they usually fail miserably due to their incapacity to express themselves in rational terms. I’m probably being a dick saying so, but who knows?

23 thoughts on “My Time In Twitter Jail

  1. Chris Van Wagner

    “Get off of my lawn”: try YouTube for some uses of this phrase, which I take to mean grouchy, unfriendly, curmudgeonly. We have an old Mr. Potato Head talking toy. When you rap his head, he repeats several phrases, and one is, “Hey you kids! Get off of my lawn!”. It’s also in Sponge Bob, there’s even a paean to the phrase in Gran Torino by Eastwood. Hope that helps.

    1. SHG Post author

      Funk and Wagnalls: We can’t find any words to define this, so it’s just like, you know, it JUST IS!!! Examples sometimes provide a facile means of showing what one can’t express, but not sure your Mr. Potato Head does it for me.

      As for “grouchy, unfriendly,” those are relative words. In the scheme of my generation, am I grouchy? In the scheme of younger people, who have experience unwavering positivity their entire lives despite the fact that they’ve done nothing to deserve any of it, and have a room filled with participation trophies so no one feels left out, it’s likely that anything shy of gushing approval wouldn’t be viewed as unfriendly. Does any young person see this, or believe a world of blue ribbons for not drooling is their due?

      1. John Neff

        Back in the days when kids walked to school they would cut the corner lot making a path in the lawn.
        If the owner was at home they got yelled at. If the corner lot was vacant there everyone used the path.

  2. Beth

    Please stay in jail a little longer next time. I didn’t even have time to set up my #freescott gofundme account.

    1. ShootingHipster

      Beth, if you’d started a #freeNed GoFundMe when I got tossed in the Twitter Hoosegow I’d be on there defending our host right now, without the Gertruding. Eleven weeks and counting for sending a picture of a Rooster to a fraudster.

  3. Noxx

    The aspect you may be missing of the common Gertrude is not so much to avoid retribution, but younger people seem to think it adds credibility to the opinion following it

    “I criticize X, so be assured that when I twit in support of X it is a considered opinion and not simply cheerleading”

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s an interesting twist. So bona fides are established by negging first.

      But how far does one need to go to establish plausible legitimacy?

  4. Robert Davidson

    This Gertruding serves a different purpose. As in “I’m a lifelong Republican and even I don’t support Darth Cheeto”. By taking a position that people who believe X don’t normally take, it shows how capable of thought and uniquely fair-minded he is.

    1. SHG Post author

      Not sure that is much different than virtue signaling. Or more contextually, how my lack of charm contributes to anyone’s fair-mindedness. I don’t think I matter all that much.

  5. L David Gehrig

    You are hereby awarded the “David Rice Atchison” Twitter badge for sleeping through your term.

  6. LEO MD

    Clint Eastwood as grizzled vietnam vet speaking to viet neighbors in opening scene Gran Torino “Get off my lawn”

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