Fun with Twitter: Longest-Running Follows

As I was thumbing through the 1900+ people I follow on Twitter, I was thinking to myself ‘wow, it takes a long time to thumb through 1900+ things’. I also finally reached a nirvana that allowed me to rejoice and wonder in the interesting metric that is the people I’ve followed the longest. Probably says something about me since these would be follows on Twitter that have survived since my joining in 2008 and survived all purges of various stripes and reasoning. I’ve removed people for saying something about anything I don’t like to see haha just like everyone I bet. If you’ve ever said anything bad about President Barack Obama that I don’t think is entirely warranted and/or your account is verified, you’ve been purged. You gotta have rules. Even David Frum made it through that strict filter for awhile. These accounts have also had to keep tweeting themselves to get through the Untweeps filters, to make it all the way to today, 6+ years later. There should be some kind of award because these must be awesome, right? Haha who knows, I’ll list them here and we’ll find out together:

  1. Barack Obama
  2. Ana Marie Cox
  3. The Onion
  4. Cheezburger
  5. Felicia Day
  6. Frag Dolls
  7. Penn Jillette
  8. Guardian Tech
  9. Rachel Maddow
  10. George Stephanopoulos

Okay now that I see that list, I’m un-following George Stephanopulus haha wtf I mean he’s cool and and all but times change – okay, who is next…? Our new #10 is: ‘That Kevin Smith’ YAY much better #FunWithTwitter

It’s Difficult to Debate Most Conservatives

I love to talk politics and religion and other contentious topics with people. It’s entertaining, enlightening, and should be an essential element of a functioning democracy. With Facebook and Twitter and the like more opportunities present themselves, which should be great, except some people seem to treat social media like email: forward political messages around to an echo chamber and nothing results except reinforcement of these dubious ideas. I find when I engage with these posts on Twitter or Facebook, it often leads to trouble. Even good friends in the family threaten unfriending #shun as a punishment for disagreeing, rather than offer counterarguments. You know, like being “social”. Interacting, and as a result perhaps even growing and learning.

I’m prompted to write this because I just checked a similar posting’s activity. I see another Friend had taken up the cause, posting well-reasoned and factual rebuttals to the original post. The commenter is even a respected educator using perfectly acceptable language (and spelling and sentence structure #bonus) to explain the opposing point-of-view. And, being a closer friend or family member, the commenter could weave the poster’s other oft-trumpeted beliefs into a more comprehensive narrative, to help explicate a more nuanced and reasoned position.

In response to this eloquence, the poster replied with a few new, easily countered bumper sticker remarks. As expected these counterpoints were quickly answered in a polite manner, along with helpful links and analogies attempting to keep focus on the larger topics and shared values. The poster follows this additional reason with (essentially) “BUT GOD!” and the meaningless “we’ll have to agree to disagree”. So, responding not by gathering more facts, resolving cognitive dissonance with improved arguments, or (gasp) perhaps even modifying opinions. Those would be good choices. Opportunities for positive response abound. But the most likely course of action is to ignore, change topic, withdraw, block, unfriend. And then these kinds of things cause trouble at holiday gatherings, create rifts and keep family members from talking, but most importantly, they stop people from being smart and informed parties in our larger cooperative system.

After one more halfhearted closing statement from the commenter, a new commenter chimed in, simply indicating agreement with the original poster. Because, of course. Why would this person enhance the debate with counterarguments? They shouldn’t have to, because in these minds beliefs count the same as facts. To some everything has two sides, both equally valid, with truthfulness and merit decided only by sincerity of belief and not empirical knowledge or well-constructed reason.

It’s difficult to debate conservatives – especially religious conservatives – primarily because they deal in belief and lack facts and information, but also empathy and the skills to effectively communicate their prescribed ideas. Worst of all they demonstrate an alarming lack of critical thinking. Lazy baseless beliefs that are clung to by the nearly illiterate masses without any evidence and then enacted into legislation is the bane of our great democracy and I applaud those who attempt to fight it. Even if it can seem pointless.