Tag Archives: social media

In need of a respite from this madness

I am in desperate need of a respite, a break, a breather from the madness that has overtaken Planet Earth.

We’re caught up in this pandemic crisis. The coronavirus is killing thousands of human beings each day now. We hear glimmers of good news: the death rate is slowing in Italy, as are the new cases of infection; China is reporting no new cases; same with South Korea.

Here, though, in the U.S. of A., our infection rate is still accelerating. So is our death rate.

All in all, the media are doing a stellar job of reporting it to us. We’re being kept informed. I want to stay informed. I need to know whether my family is safe from this disease and I am relying on the media to tell me.

That all said, I need some relief from what is inundating us.

The Internet keeps me plugged in 24/7. I’m fine with that. I can turn it on — or off — as the spirits move me.

At this moment, the spirits are telling me to turn it off for a while.

Heaven knows the president of the United States, the fellow elected to lead us through crises such as this, isn’t doing his job. He’s blathering, spitting out lies and half-truths while expecting us to ignore their obvious fakery. Maybe that’s the source of my need for a break. I cannot listen to him.

So, I’m going to take a break. I don’t know how long it’ll last. Probably not long. I could return damn near any minute after I post this item. It’s a combination of what I call “pandemic fatigue” and profound disgust at the lies I keep hearing from Donald Trump.

For now … I’m out. See you on the other side.

Still ‘no!’ on last-word duels

Four years ago I posted an item that talked briefly about my reluctance to engage readers of this blog or other social media acquaintances in a battle of wits.

I wrote: I’m leaning against a possible Last Word Contest with those along my social media network who suffer from the last-word addiction. My sense is that they have more staying power than I do when they engage others — such as me — in these idea exchanges, which is why they’re addicted … and I’m not.

Then again, I could change my mind. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Well, I haven’t changed my mind. My reluctance to engage in such repartee remains as staunch as ever.

I’ll have to admit to something in that regard: I am not smart enough or witty enough or my mind isn’t as facile as others who can’t get enough of this kind of back/forth.

High Plains Blogger allows me to vent. It provides me a forum to express my views on a whole array of issues. It also allows me to talk about matters some might consider trivial; the Puppy Tales series about our beloved pooch Toby, to cite one example. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I feel like writing. Got it? Good!

As for the last-worditis that afflicts some folks, I know who they are. They know who they are. One of them who sadly recently passed away used to acknowledge my reluctance to engage him in a discussion. I wouldn’t answer his acknowledgement, which I suppose is my way of staying faithful to the personal pledge I made to avoid that kind of (what I consider to be) nonsense.

Part of my increased reluctance has been the intensely personal nature of the volleys that participants fire at each other. One of the goals I have managed to meet with this blog is that I do not launch ad hominem attacks at individuals simply because they disagree with whatever flies off my keyboard and into cyberspace. Consequently, with only very few exceptions, critics of this blog have been relatively high-minded in their responses, although some of their critics have accused them of taking cheap shots.

That’s when it gets nasty. And personal. I watch these rhetorical fire fights from a distance and experience what I only can describe as a sort of out-of-body episode.

But this blog will trudge on. I am proud of it. I enjoy it beyond measure. It gives me relief … even if some folks want to goad me into a battle of wits.

Sorry. You’re outta luck.

Blog shows tremendous worldwide reach

I love writing this blog, but you know that already.

What you might not know, but which you are about to learn, is that one of the rushes I get from spewing out my opinions on this and that issue of the day is the reach I enjoy. It spans our good Earth.

We’re barely into the third month of 2020 and I can count page views from readers in 62 countries.

The vast majority of views, of course, come from the United States. Ireland presents a distant second-greatest view count, but it’s a lot more than the third-place nation, which happens to be India; go figure that one.

My wife and I happen to have made many acquaintances over the years. We count many of them as friends. We have friends in Germany and The Netherlands. We have a friend in Australia. I have made professional acquaintances in Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cyprus and Greece. We have made acquaintances in Belize and have actual friends who live in Israel.

I cannot account for why I would have page views from someone in, say, Fiji or Malaysia, or Ghana. Or in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia or Estonia. Don’t get me wrong. I welcome them. Really and truly!

The relatively large number of page views in Ireland well might be a result of something the older of my two sons does, which is he shares almost all of my blogs with his social media friends and acquaintances. He also has obtained many friends in Ireland, whom he has met on three trips over the years to the Emerald Isle.

Where am I going with all of this? I don’t know. Maybe this is my way of asking that those of you who take time to read these musings to share them with your own friends, acquaintances, family members.

Is that a shameless plug? Oh, yeah. I’ll cop to it.

Thanks for reading … and sharing.

At times it becomes a game of ‘Can You Top This?’

You know already how I enjoy writing this blog.

It’s what I do. I enjoy getting told that I am a “prolific” blogger. Now and then, though, I have to stop and watch some of the reactions that come from those read my musings.

Those who like what I write respond to those who dislike my point of view. The reverse of that is true, too.

I have been watching a few readers of this blog go at each other hammer and tong.

Regrettably, though, these exchanges get personal. They get nasty. They become an insult contest. They also become a sort of a “Can You Top This” game, where one individual offers a smart-aleck retort to something that comes from some unknown adversary. I say “unknown” because quite often the antagonists are acquainted only through whatever social medium they see this blog; Facebook is the most common platform I use to distribute my blogging spewage.

Back and forth they go. Seemingly forever. They wear me out, man!

Watching these exchanges play out as a result of something that comes from my fingers simply reinforces my self-imposed rule: Don’t get into a pi**ing match, particularly with someone you don’t know; everyone always gets wet.

However, it does give me a chance to watch and to revel at times in the snark that emanates from those who like to one-up someone on the other side.

If only they would avoid the meanness.

What took so long to build has collapsed in virtually no time at all

It took print journalism, chiefly newspapers, nearly two centuries to attain what used to be a virtually exalted status among their consumers.

And yet, the craft has all but collapsed in virtually no time.

What took years to erect has all but vanished in the blink of an eye.

That observation came from a dear friend of mine with whom I used to have a professional relationship when I worked in Amarillo as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. My friend was a freelance columnist; he had a regular day job, but wrote for us because he was good at it. Our professional relationship ended when I left the newspaper in August 2012. Happily, our personal friendship remains intact.

We were visiting the other evening when he made that stunning observation. His point is that newspapers climbed for a long time up a proverbial mountain to attain an important status in people’s homes. Readers of newspapers depended on them for news of their community, of their state, nation and the world around them. If you wanted to know what was happening in the world, you collected your newspaper off the porch, opened it up and spent a good deal of time reading what it reported to you.

We believed what we read. I mean, if it’s in the daily newspaper then it had to be true. As my friend noted, it took a long time for newspapers to achieve that status.

Then it all changed. Rapidly! Dramatically! Newspapers fell with a loud thud!

The Internet arrived. I can’t remember when it happened, but suffice to say it was the equivalent to the “day before yesterday.” Cable TV exploded. Social media burst forth, too.

All of that media took huge bites out of newspapers’ influence in people’s lives. Has print journalism become less reliable, less believable, less credible than before? I do not believe that is the case. Americans are still reading some first-class reporting from major newspapers that remain important purveyors of vital information.

And yet, we hear the president of the United States refer to the media as “the enemy of the people.” Right-wingers blast what they call the “mainstream media.” They accuse newspapers and other legitimate media organizations of peddling “fake news.” The attacks have exacted a terrible toll on newspapers.

The smaller papers, those that tell us about our communities? They are struggling. Many of them — if not most of them — are losing the struggle. The Amarillo Globe-News, my final stop in a career that I loved pursuing, has been decimated by competing media forces and — in my view — by incompetence at the top of its management chain of command.

My friend’s analysis, though, rings so true. It saddens me beyond measure to realize that it has taken so little time for it all come crashing down.

How does POTUS find time to tweet like that … when he’s ‘working’?

Donald Trump visited on Christmas Day via laptop computer with troops overseas. He wished them a Merry Christmas and told ’em he was at Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns in Florida.

He said he spends his time there “working.” Hmm. It got me thinking just a bit.

How does the president of the United States find time to fire off dozens of Twitter messages each day when he’s busy making America great again? Or solving the myriad problems he found on his desk when he took office? Or dealing with trouble spots around the world? Or looking for ways to put America first?

How in the world … ?

I guess perhaps the president mighta been, um, lying to the service personnel with whom he spoke when he said he was busy “working” at the glitzy resort where he spends a lot of his time.

You’ll recall, I’m sure, how he said he wouldn’t have time for golf once he became president. That turned out to be a false statement, too. His golf outings at various Trump-owned properties have totaled something on the order of $118 million; the cost covers security, transportation to and from the locations and assorted ancillary expenses.

Trump’s time working hasn’t interfered with his golf fetish. Understand something: I don’t begrudge the president playing golf as he is always “on the clock.” What is maddening is how he insisted repeatedly that he wouldn’t do such a thing. It’s the lying about it that I find so troubling.

So now he’s telling the troops in harm’s way he’s busy working at Mar-a-Lago, all the while firing Twitter rants about “evil Nancy” Pelosi, Democrats, the House that impeached him and the “hoax” investigations that have put many key aides in prison.

Weird.

‘Trolls’ are out there, but not sure they’ve found me

Someone who I do not know has begun following High Plains Blogger and has emerged as an individual I gather appreciates the point of view expressed in this forum.

Lately, though, this person has begun questioning the quality of the “trolls” who criticize my point of view. This individual believes I should get “better trolls.”

I’m an old guy and I am not entirely sure what an Internet “troll” really is, so I looked the term up. Here’s what I found:

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

This definition has me wondering: Do I even have anyone who follows this blog who fits the description mentioned? I am not entirely sure that I do.

I have plenty of critics. They weigh in frequently when I criticize the president of the United States. When they do, they often draw responses from other High Plains Blogger readers who take them to task for what they say. When those exchanges begin, I generally stay out of the way; I’ve mentioned already on this blog that I prefer to let my commentary stand on its own and let others have the last word.

Now and then, though, the back-and-forth gets pretty darn fierce, even ferocious. That’s when this particular individual — again, someone I do not know — takes Internet foes to task, all the while urging me to “get better trolls.”

Even though I have been blogging for about a decade now I do not know how to do what this individual is asking of me. Nor do I even fully believe I have “trolls” as defined by the example I have provided who are weighing in regularly.

Whatever. I’ll just keep plugging away and take the brickbats along with the bouquets. Hey, it goes with the territory.

Cameras are … everywhere!

Walking through a teeming crowd of Christmas revelers this weekend, I was struck by the sight of the 21st century’s most ubiquitous device.

Cell phones, man! Everyone has one. And, yes, they all are equipped with picture-taking “apps” that turn these telecommunications devices into cameras.

It begs the obvious question, which you well might anticipate.

Why in the name of social media invasion do celebrities of any stripe — politics, entertainment, athletics, whatever — allow themselves to be photographed doing something they shouldn’t be doing?

Every person is a potential paparazzo. They see someone famous acting up — or acting out! — they point their phone/camera at them and snap pictures to be recorded for everyone to see. By “everyone,” I mean potentially every human being on Earth; at last count that number was well north of 7 billion.

Yet we keep hearing about individuals who get caught punching someone out, or acting inappropriately after consuming too many adult beverages.

I suppose this is my way of saying that if it’s understood by most of us that cell phone cameras are as plentiful as we know they are, then celebrities who get caught misbehaving deserve the recrimination that comes their way.

Trump engaged in frontal assault against freedom of the press

Leave it to Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” a staple of Donald Trump’s favorite news/opinion cable TV channel, to put it in perspective.

Wallace said this to a gathering at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.: “I believe President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”

Oh, brother, is he ever!

The man who played on his “experience” as a reality TV celebrity host, who once courted the media because they found him, um, entertaining is now launching a full frontal assault on the constitutional guarantee of a free press.

He routinely bullies cable, broadcast and print media representatives. He accuses them of peddling “fake news.” He curries favor with media outlets and then blasts them to smithereens when they don’t do his bidding; Wallace and the Fox News Channel serve as a prime example. Trump has labeled the media as the “enemy of the people” and has applauded right along with the know-nothing faithful who cheer his frightening rhetoric.

Presidents dating back throughout the history of the republic all have noted the adversarial relationship with the media that is built into the presidency. None of them — not until Donald Trump came along — has blathered the kind of incendiary rhetoric toward the media that this president has spewed forth.

As a former full-time print journalist, I — along with many of my former colleagues — take this kind of treatment personally. Now that I am writing for myself, I still take it personally.

Moreover, I continue to salute and honor the great work that media organizations of all stripes continue to do in reporting the goings-on regarding this presidential administration.

The good news for all of them — and the rest of us — is that Donald Trump won’t be president forever. He’ll be gone from the halls of power and will no longer be able to bully the media.

I am waiting for that moment of deliverance from this attack on our essential press freedom.

Trump’s Twitter rampages are expanding … imagine that

Donald John “Tweeter in Chief” Trump keeps setting unofficial records via the Twitter device that he must sleep with at night.

He reportedly launched 60 or so tweets in a three-hour span to complain about impeachment, Democrats, the “fake news,” Time’s teenage “Person of the Year,” and whatever else got under his orange-tinted skin.

Think about this for a moment. This is the president of the United States. He vows to “make America great again.” He says that “I, alone” can cure the ills of the nation.

How does someone with all that heavy-duty responsibility find the time to pound out misspelled, mangled-syntax, incoherent messages via Twitter?

Oh, I get it. He’s not actually working as president of the United States. That explains it.