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Weeds, by Randy Krzmarzick: I’m not used to social media

Much is made of social media and its impact on our culture. It is said our children are natives in this new digital world. If they are natives, I’m the confused tourist in ugly shorts walking around with a map trying to find someone who speaks English to ask where the bathroom is.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest are some of these social media sites. I have heard of these, which means they are already unhip and uncool. By the time something gets to me, no one under forty would be caught dead doing it.

Pam is on Facebook where I follow the kids and a few friends. I don’t have my own account. I know I am missing inspiring videos set to stirring music encouraging me to save the world, not to mention animal-stunt videos that are also oddly inspiring. I’m not tough enough to have my own account. The first time I was unliked or unfriended, I would crawl into a corner fighting back tears.

I follow a few people on Snapchat who post pictures and videos of interesting daily activities. Like right now, you could see video of me sitting here drinking coffee, staring out a window, occasionally typing a few words. Then I could watch you read a newspaper. Then you could observe me get up and get some more coffee, and maybe take an Oreo out of the cupboard. Then I could watch you set some papers in a pile on your desk. The possibilities are limitless.

In The World That I Grew Up In, we didn’t have social media. We were social and there was media, but those two things had not yet mated to bear their bastard child. We communicated using crude tools. We scrawled drawings on cave walls. We arranged stones in patterns to convey messages. It was primitive but we were just kids who didn’t know better.

Our social world was primarily made up of talking to each other. You might have heard of talking. It had certain advantages over modern communication. In social media, if you want to be emphatic you use “Caps Lock.” Like, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????? SHE’S NEVER GOING TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN!!!!!!

In bygone days, we would yell loudly across the room. Raising your voice was an art form. Football coaches and moms were especially skilled. On the farm, we hollered. Hollering was developed to express dissatisfaction with cows that got out. I don’t think town people hollered. Town people “shouted.” And then they could only shout when their neighbor’s windows were closed. Farm people can holler anytime we want. As a matter of fact, I might go outside and holler right now.

OK, I’m back. That felt good.

In social media emojis are big. Emojis are little round faces that express feelings at the push of a key. (They are all descendents of Mr. Yuk.) When I was young we actually had to display our own emotions. We used our face. I’m afraid I must be emotional-deficient. There are a couple hundred emojis on my phone, and I can only come up with maybe a dozen emotions.

Anonymity is a problem with social media. Trolls prowl the internet sowing discord and fomenting hate-speech. That’s not my idea of a good time, but apparently it is to some.

The only way to be anonymous when I was a kid was to put a bag over your head. This inevitably called attention to oneself and defeated the whole purpose. Anonymity would have been a handy tool. Back in the day, if you wanted someone to know they were a big fat idiot, you had to go tell them. Often this led to getting hit. Thought-leaders regularly walked around with black eyes.

We did have phones when I was young. I suppose they were an early form of social media. Only you couldn’t watch videos, Skype, use GPS, or even text on them. We could talk on them. To one person. After dialing their number. That you had to look up. That’s it. Come to think of it, they were pretty lame.

I don’t have a Twitter account. I mention Twitter because our president uses Twitter a lot. It is an interesting way for the leader of the free world to communicate. Especially since he does this at 3 a.m. A lot of times his Tweets sound as if he were up late drinking. But he doesn’t drink, so these are coming straight from his sober mind. Maybe he should try drinking.

Our president doesn’t like to read. He declines intelligence briefings. He prefers to get his knowledge from television talk shows. Twitter limits the user to 140 characters, approximately 24 words. Quite possibly, that’s about right for him.

Through our nation’s history we have turned to our presidents for inspiration. In the past, presidents gave speeches that were thoughtful and well prepared. Now we have a president who is liberated from these burdens. I got to wondering about presidential quotes from the past, and how they might be translated into Tweet-speak.

In 1961, John Kennedy said, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Our current pres could have saved us a lot of time, Tweeting, “Dangerous world out there. Sad. IT’S RIGGED! Close the borders, BUILD A WALL. Don’t ask me what country can do for you, trust me!!!”

In 1933 Franklin Roosevelt said, “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Such a waste of words. Today’s president would simply Tweet, “Nothing to be scared of! Except being scared. AND I’M NOT SCARED! I have a great IQ and am very very BOLD! Best President since Lincoln. Repeat, nothing to fear!”

See? Very, very much better.

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