Why Aren’t I Online More? (With boldface passages for easy skimming!)


  1. Public U.S. life now has become one of resistance to the federal government’s continually terrible and dangerous policies, and the most convenient and quickly satisfying arena in which to work out this resistance is social media.
  2. Social media is a lousy and terrible arena for activism and argument. This is for at least two reasons:
    1. Posts tend toward brevity (esp. on Twitter or in the 600×600 pixel box of Instagram) and few issues regarding national politics benefit from being discussed in brief, which is what cable news taught those of us who were paying attention.
    2. Posts come engineered with the possibility of like- and share-rewards, which reward us not on the content of the post so much as the feeling it rustles up in the post’s viewer, and as such we learn to write posts less with our messy thoughts and feelings in mind and more in terms of how the post will play out to our followers.
  3. I get enough information on what is happening and how to resist from the news I read, and I haven’t been convinced that I need this information sooner or more rapidly than I want it.

But I miss it. I miss the Twitter I came to love in Obama’s second term. I miss irrelevant Twitter, and I miss having a place where irrelevance could be given free rein. I get that times are different now, but I reject, I think, the idea that different times call for unilaterally different behavior.

I, too, am worried and insecure about the future, and about the future’s total unforeseeability. I acknowledge that I am the source of these feelings, that they’re mine. Therefore, I’m in charge of deciding whether and how to act on them. The worry I’ve had is that by being irrelevant and silly on social media I would appear irresponsible and ignorant, a kind of head-in-the-sand apologist/Pollyanna. But I’m not in charge of how I’m read, I’m in charge of how I am.

In short: if now’s not the time for jokes then when ever is?

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