The late New Yorker magazine columnist A.J. Liebling famously wrote, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
So, since I own this space, I’ve decided to start using it.
Facebook proved itself to be more trouble than its worth a while ago. (I wrote about my decision to exit Facebook, except for professional and work-related use, back in March.) While I still maintained a presence there, I was spending more and more of my time on Twitter, at least for fun.
Until this week. And, I mean, we all know what’s going on there.
I appreciate the viewpoint of folks who say, “I don’t care if Elon Musk owns Twitter. I’m staying until the lights go out.”
Shine on, you crazy diamonds. For me, here’s how I see it. I’ve been on Twitter for seven years and have amassed around 700 followers. Not exactly what you would call a raging overnight success story, in other words.
If Twitter is a big, successful shopping center, I’m running a Sunglasses Hut. Or a pretzel cart. Some days, I sell a lot of pretzels, but most of the time, I have a few loyal repeat customers, and that’s fine.
One day, a new guy buys the shopping center. We’ll call him … Mr. Nole Ksum. And he comes from someplace … far away. (Yes, yes, that will do.)
Mr. Ksum promises to keep all of the old stores in our shopping center while also filling a bunch of vacant storefronts. That should be great for everyone, including my pretzel cart.
But the new storefronts aren’t filled with clothing stores or shoe stores or frozen yogurt places. One storefront is full of killer bees. Another one is filled with warm, wet dog turds. A third is full of poisonous snakes.
So, to get to my pretzel cart, my customers now have to walk past the smell of fresh dog crap. Not super appetizing. On a daily basis, a swarm of bees or a dangerous snake escapes and everyone has to run for their lives for a few minutes.
Pretty soon, the stores that I liked — the record store, the book store, the stereo equipment place — start moving away. Mr. Ksum replaces the record store with a rotting chicken carcass emporium, and the book store is replaced by a boutique called “Nothin’ But Hitler!”
That’s where I finally got with Twitter. First, the proprietor welcomed the Nazis and white supremacists back. OK, just like you can hold your nose while walking past a store full of dog shit, I can ignore Nazis and bigots. I just blocked ’em.
But then my favorite Twitter accounts (Xeni Jardin, Christopher Titus, Ken White, a few others) started going dark or started posting more and more infrequently (Conan O’Brien). Which begs the question: Why am I still here?
On Thursday, in a fit of pique, Musk banned a bunch of journalists who have been covering his business activities. At that point, I finally said, “Do I really want to keep selling my pretzels in Elon’s dog-shit and Hitler mall? Nah.”
I had some really fun interactions on Twitter. Nancy Sinatra followed me! So did James Garner’s daughter, Gigi! I had conversations with comedians like Christopher Titus and Brent Butt, as well as the late Ed Asner.
I told Asner “Lou Grant” was an inspiration for me to get into newspaper work. He shot back, “Gee, I’m sorry.” Perfect, no notes.
But if those folks are gone and weirdos and trolls are all that’s left, I can find better things to do.
Twitter won’t miss me. My 700 or so followers would barely fill a medium-sized high school auditorium. I do hope they’ll find me here.
I’ll keep comments open on each post for a few days, though I will be moderating them heavily.
In other words, don’t show up here at my pretzel cart with a tractor-trailer full of rotten chicken and dog turds. Take that over to Musk Towne Centre.