Tag Archives: social media

Blog spurs tension among strangers

As much as l enjoy — even love — writing this blog, it produces at least one uncomfortable side effect.

I distribute High Plains Blogger’s contents along several social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to name three. It’s the Facebook distribution that results in something that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Blog supporters and critics read my entries. They respond to statements that come from the blog. Then someone else will respond to the individual who is commenting on the contents of the blog.

It doesn’t matter who starts the exchange. It can come from someone on either side. When it commences, though, it occasionally gets personal.

It’s an intriguing aspect of this community “discussion.” Strangers who have never looked each other in the eye presume to know the other person’s motives. For that matter, I have total strangers who read this blog regularly who presume to know my own motivations and they respond with some sort of faux knowledge. But … that’s OK with me. I let it slide.

When individuals start yammering at each other in response to High Plains Blogger, I find myself feeling badly when someone ascribes nefariousness to someone else’s point of view. Or, they accuse someone of ignorance.

I don’t intend to dissuade commenters from speaking out freely and passionately. It’s an American thing to do. I like that individuals get worked up. However, it does make me a bit queasy when the commenters get personal with their newfound foes over each other’s comments.

None of this will deter me from using this blog to speak out. It’s what I do these days now that I no longer am a working stiff.

I’ll just have to suck it up when readers of this blog — be they friend or foe — decide to go after those on the other side of the gaping political divide.

Stay tuned. Keep reading. And by all means, feel free to offer your own perspective. It’s a great country, yes?

More pain gets inflicted in the media

Oh, the hits just keep coming.

The San Antonio Express-News — the newspaper of record for Texas’s second-largest city — has announced another round of layoffs. It doesn’t stop. The reductions are costing communities the services of valuable craftsmen and women with decades of experience reporting on the issues of the day.

When will it end? Ever? Well, it has to end, likely when the last reporter checks out for the final time. Will he or she please be sure to turn out the lights?

The Internet is the culprit. The villain. The bogeyman.

It has spawned a whole new array of “news and information” outlets. Cable news has joined the fray. Righties have their own view of the “truth,” as do the lefties. They hunker down and consume only the “information” that comports with their world view.

It sickens and saddens me at the same time.

I once was a victim of the changing climate. I was told during a company “reorganization” that I no longer would do what I had done at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years. I wrote editorials and columns for the paper. The publisher at the time decided to reshuffle the deck. After interviewing for my own job, I got the news: We’ve offered it to someone else and he has accepted.

I quit on the spot.

Not long after I left the G-N in the summer of 2012, I scored an interview with the Express-News. The editorial page editor flew me to San Antonio, where I spent the day talking to him, the paper’s publisher and the EPE’s editorial page staff members.

The fellow with whom I interviewed made quite a point of telling me how the Hearst Corp. was reinvesting in the Express-News, restoring positions that had been cut. Times were good in the Alamo City, he said.

I didn’t get the gig. The paper was “going in another direction,” the e-mail message told me.

It’s all good now.

I want to re-share with you a quick story. I was at my post at the Amarillo newspaper. A gentleman called about a letter he had submitted. I chose not to publish it. Why? It was full of falsehoods.

His response was classic. “I know it’s true,” he said. I asked, “How do you know that?” He said, “Because I saw it on the Internet.”

I laughed out loud into the phone.

It’s a brand new, and damn scary, world out there.

Twitter overuse brings this kind of embarrassment

Donald Trump’s incessant use, overuse — and some of us have suggested misuse — of Twitter as a vehicle for his public statements produces moments such as what happened today.

The president sought to tweet a statement welcoming his wife home from the hospital after she underwent kidney surgery.

Except that he misspelled her name, referring to the first lady as “Melanie,” not Melania.

As a former Texas governor once said so (in)famously: Oops.

The president — or someone on his staff — deleted the mistake. Trump then issued the proper welcome with the proper spelling of the first lady’s name.

I have stopped criticizing Trump’s use of Twitter to make policy pronouncements, although his use of the social medium to fire Cabinet officials and others in his administration is troublesome, to say the very least.

I don’t even know if Trump himself is actually tweeting these messages or if it is being done by some intern. Whoever it is, Americans deserve at the very least to have their head of state, head of government and commander in chief being able to spell the name of his wife.

Arrgghhh!

Social media: sometimes a poisonous purveyor

I am likely never to fall totally in love with social media. I have accepted its presence our lives. However, there are times when I detest it with — as my mother used to say — “with a purple passion.”

Amarillo City Councilman Howard Smith has posted this item on Facebook, which I’ll share here:

It has come to my attention that a Facebook page has been created called: Howard Smith for Mayor 2019.

I want this to be crystal clear. I did not start this page, nor do I support it.

I am excited to continue my work on the Amarillo City Council. I have absolutely NO intention of running for Mayor.

I think Mayor Nelson is doing a tremendous job, and I am honored to work alongside her and my fellow Council Members to help move Amarillo forward.

Additionally, a GoFundMe account has been created to pay legal fees to oppose the building of the MPEV.

I, Howard Smith, did not contribute to this fund. I support the MPEV.

During this digital age when misinformation is so easily distributed, I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

I respectfully ask that anyone pretending to be me or anyone utilizing my name please stop immediately.

What, do you suppose, caused this little item to show up? My hunch is that it has something to do with that recent dust up regarding Ginger Nelson’s decision to crack down on applause during City Council meetings.

As for the MPEV construction, if Councilman Smith says he supports it, I’ll take him at his word.

Social media can be pervasive. They can spread rumors faster than a Texas Panhandle wildfire. It become incumbent on those who become subject of social media discussion to use the media to counteract it or to endorse it, whichever is the case.

Howard Smith has counteracted what he suggests are unfounded rumors.

It’s good to stay alert.

Mme. First Lady, this is in your wheelhouse

First lady Melania Trump has put the word out: She wants to take on cyber bullying as her signature effort as the wife of the president of the United States.

So, here we are: A foul-mouthed comedian gets Donald Trump’s base all fired up with her intemperate remarks; the president fires back on Twitter attacking her and the venue in which she delivered her remarks; he also attacks the former FBI director on Twitter and says he should be in jail.

The bullying is rampant. It’s out of control!

Isn’t this squarely in the wheelhouse of what the first lady said she wants to eradicate? Sure, she spoke initially about the bullying of children. That truly is a noble cause. I truly do wish the first lady well on that part of her campaign.

But her husband continues to wage cyber war against his foes, threatening them, bullying them, insulting them.

Mrs. Trump still needs to have a heart-to-heart talk with her husband about what he’s doing, how he’s undermining her effort to deal squarely with what she describes as a national crisis.

Oh, wait a minute. A “heart-to-heart” discussion presumes both parties possess a heart from which to speak.

Hey, Mr. POTUS, DOJ is on our side

So sad that the Department of “Justice” and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress. An embarrassment to our country!

I’ll give you just one guess where that statement came from. Time’s up! It came from Donald J. Trump, via Twitter — of course!

Have you or any of us ever seen a president of the United States of America disparage our federal law enforcement community in such a manner? Have any of us seen a president show such utter disregard for the professionals who toil in the trenches or who make command decisions on behalf of the country they all take an oath to protect?

He keeps disparaging Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He continues to undermine the field agents of the FBI, as well as their bosses at the Hoover FBI Building. He torpedoes the work of career prosecutors who work for the Justice Department.

He does so using social media, which if you consider the way he is using it to proclaim his distrust and distaste over policy matters, ought to be renamed. There’s nothing “social” about the way Trump uses — and abuses — this particular medium.

I’m tellin’ ya, the man is a disgrace to his office.

Donald Trump: Coward in Chief

You might not believe this, but it pains me to suggest the following.

The president of the United States is a coward. He is afraid to confront people who displease him. Thus, he relies on long-distance communications techniques to tell them, “You’re fired!”

I’m sure you remember now Donald J. Trump made “You’re fired” a phrase that took off throughout popular culture. He even developed that snake-like strike gesture with his hand in telling those on “Celebrity Apprentice” that they didn’t make the grade.

How does the man who now has become president handle these duties? He does it through other means.

He fired off a tweet announcing the firing of FBI Director James Comey while Comey was in California preparing to speak to law enforcement officials; he fired off another tweet to give Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the boot; he used the same medium to inform White House chief of staff Reince Priebus that he was out; most recently, he did the same thing while firing national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

What kind of CEO — which the president is — does such a thing?

I’ve always thought the boss summoned someone to his or her office, read the underling the riot act and then dismissed them summarily to their face. That would be a boss who’s worth a damn, someone who has the courage of his or convictions to speak candidly to someone who doesn’t do what the boss expects.

Trump doesn’t seem to operate this way. Now we’re hearing disputes over whether Shulkin resigned or was fired as VA secretary. Shulkin says he was canned; the White House contends he was resigned.

Of course, some politicians are weighing in. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told “Meet the Press” that “It’s not the way I’d do it,” referring to the manner that Trump used to dismiss Shulkin.

I guess Sen. Johnson believes Shulkin’s account of his departure from the VA.

Johnson, moreover, believes Trump’s childish and callous termination methods will affect recruitment of future administration officials. “I think the president does need to understand the effect it has on attracting other people,” Johnson said.

Gee! Do ya think?

Trump will continue to delude himself into thinking he’s running a tight ship, that he’s got everything — and everyone — under control.

He is wrong! He also is a coward!

In this corner, the former vice president …

It has come down to this.

A former vice president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, spoke to a Miami conference and said if Donald J. Trump and he were in the same high school, he would “beat the hell out of him.” The issue on the table dealt with the treatment of women by men.

So, what does the president of the United States do? He responds via Twitter (naturally, yes?) that “Crazy Joe” lacks emotional and physical strength and that he — Trump, of course — would take him out. Here is Trump’s tweet: “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”

I do not know which is worse: the former VP saying out loud that he would beat up the president or the head of state responding via social media with a “so’s your mama!” retort.

This is the kind of stuff one usually sees occurring between middle-schoolers. It’s a close call, but I’ll give the “raspberry” in this exchange to the president.

He is the one who occupies the office that, in an earlier time, used to command decorum, dignity and discipline. The former vice president is known to be a bit loose of lip at times; but this is the first time I’ve ever heard Biden actually state a desire to do physical harm to another public figure.

Trump, though, actually has extolled the virtue of beating someone up, such as what he has said about demonstrators who showed up at his political rallies. That, however, occurred before he won the election and took the presidential oath of office.

Donald Trump promised many times he would be “more presidential” once he took that oath.

Well, so much for promises.

What about actual policy, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump has said repeatedly that Twitter is his preferred method of communicating with Americans. He calls it an unfiltered channel through which he can make statements about this and/or that issue of the day.

Lately, and by that I mean for the past several weeks, all we seem to hear from the president of the United States are tirades about special counsel Robert Mueller, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and assorted boasts about how well his administration is operating. He has yapped about firing the secretary of state and has labeled as “fake news” reports of continued chaos in the administration.

I keep waiting for actual policy pronouncements. What about, oh, health care? How about defense spending? Do you have any legislative proposals to offer Congress, Mr. President?

I get that the president has talked via Twitter about gun-violence-related issues. He has flipped and flopped all over the place on any number of proposals. As with other compelling issues, I am waiting for something solid, declarative and final in his pitch to seek a solution to gun violence.

Long ago I quit lamenting the president’s use of Twitter. I get that he prefers that particular social medium as a way to express himself. I would prefer to hear something constructive, something proactive and perhaps even a conciliatory word or two to those — such as yours truly — who oppose his world view.

For that matter, how about using Twitter — or other social media platforms, for that matter — to offer an olive branch to those of us who oppose his occupying the presidency in the first place?

I can declare categorically that I would be open to softening my opposition to Trump if such a gesture were forthcoming from the president. Really! I am not kidding about that! Honest! I would!

Boorishness, like bias, a matter of perception

A High Plains Blogger critic has called me out — again!

He doesn’t like the way I referred to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as “young lady.” He thinks I sound “boorish,” “offensive” and condescending when I refer to her in that context.

He and I have exchanged a few words over that item on social media, but I feel compelled to offer this brief blog post to set the record straight on a thing or two.

I am 68 years and 3 months of age. Sanders is 35 years of age; she is nearly nine years younger than the younger of my two sons.

When I refer to a public official as a “young lady” or a “young man,” I do not do so with boorishness in my heart. I don’t perceive myself to be a boor. Any offense I deliver through these commentaries are taken that way by those who disagree with my world view, or whatever perspective I present.

I consider a criticism that I am being boorish in the same light as I take the term “biased.” Someone who accuses me of “bias” always — without failure — is someone who takes a different viewpoint. And I admit the same when I read “bias” in commentary with which I disagree.

One man’s bias is another man’s profound wisdom.

The same can be said of “boorishness,” although boorishness can rise — or sink — to levels that reach universal agreement. An example might be, oh let’s see, Donald Trump telling “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005 that his celebrity status entitles him to grab women by their private parts.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch. Trump, after all, got elected president of the United States even after those remarks were made public. What the heck, it was worth bringing up in any event.

I’ll accept the criticism that comes with writing this blog. As for my use of the term “young” preceding “lady” or “man,” I’ll continue to do so whenever I see fit.

Growing old allows it.

So there.