Tag Archives: social media

Writing a blog produces occasional out-of-body experiences

Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Or even what you believe an actual such event would feel like?

I get ’em on occasion writing this blog. I’ve been doing this since 2010, fulltime since 2012.

Here’s what happens: I write something on High Plains Blogger and then publish it. I post these items on various social media, including Facebook. Someone comments on it. The initial comment usually is negative. Then someone responds — not to the blog, but to the initial responder. Then Responder No. 1 fires back at the antagonist; Responder No. 2 shoots back.

Then it starts. Back and forth they go. Occasionally, someone else chimes in. Then perhaps a fourth, or fifth individual who happens to be part of my Facebook “friend” network will read these exchanges and decide to weigh in as well.

Oh, boy. Sometimes it gets nasty. As in real personal. There’s a bit of name-calling at times.

I think once or twice I have sought to intervene, usually via “private message” on whatever social medium I’m monitoring. I might tell one of the parties to cool it. Usually, though, I let it ride. I let the combatants have their say.

Eventually one of them gives up. Not surrender, actually. Just decides he or she has had enough of the other person.

Why mention this at all? It’s my way of acknowledging the deep divide that separates individuals or groups of individuals. There’s little I can do about it, short of not posting items that rile folks up. I can’t go there. I have this insatiable need to provide commentary that is sure to invoke the kind of out-of-body experiences I feel on occasion.

I can’t help myself.

For that I apologize. However, I’ll keep on going.

‘Stable genius,’ or unstable imbecile?

Oh, my, Mr. President.

You call yourself a “stable genius,” but your latest Twitter tirade/rant suggests to me that your actions are more like those of an unstable imbecile.

What in the name of 21st-century telecommunication are you trying to say here?

I heard about your latest barrage of tweets where you challenge the “fake news media” and suggest that they’ll wither and die once you leave office. And what is this about your assertion about whether you would have been elected without social media?

Mr. President, I have refrained from offering armchair medical diagnoses, unlike other critics out here. Too many folks think they can parse through your babble and make declarations about the state of your mental health.

This latest bombardment, though, seems to lend credence to what the peanut gallery docs keep suggesting, that you’re off your rocker. That you’ve lost (what passes for) your mind. That the pressure is getting to you. That … oh, crap, I don’t know, that you’ve gone around the bend.

I won’t buy in completely with all of that, but these tweets of yours are troublesome in the extreme. They are absolute nonsense.

You are the commander in chief, the leader of the Free World, the man who occupies arguably the most revered office on Earth — with the exception of the Holy Father, of course.

What in the world is going on inside the West Wing?

I am now forced to ask those who still cling to your pronouncements: Are you still proud of the man you installed as president of the United States of America?

As for you, Mr. President … these moronic tweets give many millions of us cause for serious alarm about your stability.

Honest to God in heaven. They do!

Trump delivers Twitter to the top of the communication chain

I am going to give credit to Donald Trump for doing something I never thought would be worthy of praise.

The president of the United States has led the way in turning Twitter into a tried-and-true social media phenomenon.

Trump has something like 60 million followers on Twitter. So, when he fires off those tweets, he gets tens of millions of sets of eyes on them immediately. I won’t belabor the point about how mangled his syntax is on those tweets or the ridiculousness of the messages he delivers via Twitter.

However, as I consume the news daily I am struck by the vast number of public officials who make policy statements via Twitter, just like Trump has done since before he was elected. It seems as though every news story I read attributes a statement from congressional leaders, civic activists, former presidents, public officials of all stripes to something they posted on Twitter.

My goodness, these Twitter-attributed statements have become as ubiquitous anything I have witnessed in the past decade. Or maybe even longer than that.

Of course, I am in no position to offer policy statements via Twitter. I just use the platform to distribute this blog and to make snarky comments of my own about this or that issue of the day … or of the moment.

I certainly cannot claim the vast number of followers that Trump can claim.

Yes, the president has redefined a lot of norms associated with public life, politics, policy and worldwide communication. Being a bit of an old-school kind of fellow, I prefer to read position papers from officials in positions of leadership. As we now know, Donald Trump isn’t into such delivering of policy. He is legendary non-reader of details. He gets a policy into his head, then fires off the tweet.

I am shaking my head, to be sure.

However, I cannot help but admire the tenacity with which Donald Trump has used Twitter and the impact his use of that social media platform has had throughout the entire world.

If only the president could learn how to spell and construct sentences that make sense.

Another community icon about to vanish

I am heartbroken, but not entirely surprised to hear this bit of news: The Beaumont Enterprise’s parent company is planning to sell the structure and move the newspaper into a more, um, suitable location hits me straight in the gut.

I got word of this decision Thursday through — that is correct — social media, which I suppose tells the story of the Beaumont Enterprise’s decline as the newspaper of record for the Golden Triangle region of Texas.

It is where my Texas journalism career got its start in 1984. It’s where I made tons of friends, learned about Texas’s unique political culture, and learned also that gumbo was far more than what you bought in a can of Campbell’s Soup.

My heart hurts over this news.

Social media have played a part in the Enterprise’s diminishing presence in the community. The paper I joined in 1984 was selling about 75,000 copies daily; its Sunday distribution totaled more than 80,000 copies. We sent papers way up into Deep East Texas and into Southwest Louisiana.

Then came the Internet. I left the Golden Triangle in January 1995 for greater opportunities in the Texas Panhandle. As the Internet began exerting its chokehold on print journalism in Amarillo, it began taking its toll in Beaumont as well.

The Enterprise, which once employed more than 300 individuals has seen its payroll dwindle to fewer than 70 people. Hurricane wind and rain destroyed the newspaper’s presses, forcing the paper to print its editions at the Houston Chronicle, another property owned by the Hearst Corp. The Enterprise’s production department disappeared; its circulation department has been reduced to virtually nothing.

Most tragically (in my view) the news staff has been decimated. I don’t know the exact count of reporters and editors on staff at the Enterprise, but I do know it’s far fewer than it was during the heyday of print journalism.

Hearst Corp. execs say they need to move into a location that is more suited for the Enterprise to compete in the digital age. I totally understand the business aspect of the decision, just as I understand why the Amarillo Globe-News — where I worked for nearly 18 years — has vacated its historic location.

There’s a glimmer of good news, which is that Hearst plans to keep the newspaper in downtown Beaumont, given the Enterprise’s longtime presence there. Publisher Mark Adkins said, “We believe in the community here, and want to continue our long history as a part of downtown,. It is important for us to stay here for those reasons. But it is also important to be able to pass on this building to someone that could use it for further development of downtown.”

However, none of this assuages the grief I feel at this moment reading about the pending departure of the Beaumont Enterprise from a building where I practiced my craft for nearly 11 years.

There’s no nice way to say it. This news really sucks, man.

Trump tweets insult to singer/actress during state visit? Wow!

I decided long ago that I wouldn’t lament Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as a policy bullhorn. I get that it works for the president, even though his tweets are so remarkably inarticulate, clumsy and, um, full of lies.

However, I cannot let pass a recent message he fired off while he is visiting the United Kingdom on a state visit at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

At a time when the president should be exhibiting solemn respect for the office he holds and paving the way to pay his respects to the valiant warriors who fell in battle 75 years ago while trying to liberate Europe from the Nazi tyrant, he does something truly astonishing.

Donald Trump decides to engage in a Twitter battle with Bette Midler, the noted singer and actress.

Midler dislikes the president. She said so yet again. So what does the target of her barbs do? He decides to fire off a tweet in response to Midler, calling her a “washed up psycho,” or words to that effect.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, Mr. President!

Donald Trump is managing to make the presidency a worldwide laughingstock at a time when he should be conducting himself with maximum decorum and dignity.

A tweet tirade with Bette Midler isn’t the way to do that.

Weird.

Some critics actually do hand out credit

I had a fascinating exchange of messages recently with a gentleman who is a frequent critic of this blog. He lives in Amarillo and he thinks I am too harsh and hateful toward Donald Trump . . . and he tells me so quite frequently.

I don’t have a problem with this fellow’s comments. During our brief private exchange of messages, though, I did tell him something I want to share with the rest of the readers of High Plains Blogger.

I told this fellow — who, by the way, I don’t really know — that I appreciate that he is willing on occasion to give me credit for the blog posts with which he might agree. I also mentioned to him that I have a number of critics who don’t extend that courtesy.

Why mention this? I do so to illustrate, I suppose, the ups and downs of writing this blog. Sure, I appreciate the kind words I get from those who might lean in the same political direction that I do. I also appreciate the criticism of those who tilt in the other direction. Many of their critiques are thoughtful and I do heed them.

I adopted the philosophy quite a while ago when I started this blog that I would avoid (most of the time) engaging in a back/forth dialogue with critics. The way I look at it, this blog gives me a forum to throw out my point of view and offers those who care to respond to do exactly that. I believe that once is enough, whether it’s from me or from someone who wants to challenge a point of view I have expressed.

I told my critic, too, that arguing with those with contrary views usually is unproductive. I won’t change their mind; they won’t change mine. So, there’s next to zero point in trying to persuade someone I am totally virtuous and that they’re full of sh**.

This individual and I have expressed a desire to meet one day. That might happen. My wife and I get back to Amarillo on occasion. I do hope our paths cross one day.

As for his criticism, keep it coming . . . especially if he’s willing to give me some credit even once in great while.

Redefining the term ‘cutthroat’

John and Dathel Georges are trying to redefine the term “cutthroat” as it applies to describing media purchases.

The couple that owns the New Orleans Advocate has just purchased the once-might New Orleans Times-Picayune — and has laid off the entire Times-Picayune staff! All of ’em are gone, or will be gone soon.

This is the way it has become, it seems, in the world of print media.

The Times-Picayune once was the newspaper of record for The Big Easy. It became a media powerhouse, reporting on the ravages brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Then social media, the Internet and cable news began taking its toll. The T-P reduced its publication schedule to three days a week. Its circulation plummeted. As did its ad revenue.

The Advocate continued on. It became the scrappy alternative the Newhouse family’s once-formidable media presence.

Now the Advocate — owned by Mr. and Mrs. Georges — has taken over the T-P. It will restore its seven-day-a-week publishing schedule.

The T-P staff, though, won’t be part of the story.

Oh, my, this story hurts.

Sadly, though, it is just yet another example of how media companies operate. I once worked for a company, Morris Communications, that made a ton of bad business decisions at the top of the chain of command. When the company’s initiatives failed to bear sufficient fruit, the execs at the top decided to “punish” the staff by invoking pay cuts across the board and eliminating the company match toward staffers’ retirement accounts.

I also worked for another media group, the Hearst Corporation, that around 1988 decided to settle a major newspaper war in San Antonio. Hearst owned the San Antonio Light, which was battling with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Express-News. Hearst then purchased the Express-News.

However, Hearst then extended its “thanks” and expressions of gratitude for the battle fought by its Light staff by closing the Light and laying off its employees.

What’s about to happen in New Orleans, therefore, is not a newly contrived event. It’s happened many times before in the media business. It doesn’t make it any less disgraceful or dispiriting.

Working in the media world these days is tough, man!

I am so glad, delighted and relieved, to be free of that pressure.

Reached the limit of anti-Muslim bigotry

I have just committed the rare act of disconnecting someone from my social media network.

Until just a few moments ago, we were “friends” on Facebook. I will concede that we aren’t close personal friends, although I know this person’s spouse quite well, as he served in local government for many years during my time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

What did this person do to incur my social media wrath? She posted a vile anti-Muslim meme, saying in effect that Muslims need to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Oh, yes. Feelings run high at times when we talk about those who believe in one of the world’s great religions. This one crosses the line. It goes way beyond what I consider to be anything close to reasonable.

I hereby am going to declare a state of proverbial “war” against those who post such things on my Facebook feed.

You are welcome to criticize this blog. I truly don’t object to that, although some of the personal criticism does sting a bit. Hey, I ask for it with some of my blog posts. I should be willing to take what I dish out, correct?

However, those who believe in a certain religious faith do not deserve to be treated in a hideous manner. My now former Facebook “friend” has revealed a terrible element in her emotional makeup. Therefore, I no longer will use my own social media network to spread such hate.

Her ghastly meme should have been targeted toward those who have perverted Islam. She didn’t do that.

She can consort with her fellow haters all she wants.

Trump elevates Twitter as a communications platform

I want to hand out a compliment of sorts to Donald Trump.

Yes, I continue to oppose this man’s presence in the White House as president. However, I have to give him credit where it’s due. He has taken Twitter to a new phase of ubiquitous presence.

He used the social media platform to communicate his every thought seemingly in real time. Trump did it during the 2016 presidential campaign, then he promised to be “more presidential” and less Twitter dependent once he took office.

Hah! He hasn’t delivered on that promise. He’s become more Twitter oriented, not less.

But you see, here’s the deal: Damn near every other public official, elected leader, celebrity of any note, public figure has adopted the Trump Model of 21st-century communication. They’re all using Twitter as their medium of choice.

Trump tweets out an insult; the object of the barb responds with a tweet. The Twitter-verse is brimming with insults, responses to the insults, responses to the responses. They’re coming from all over the world.

Former CIA director John Brennan, a serious man who happens to be a fervent Trump critic, recently alluded to all of the president’s tweets about the late John McCain. He did so, yep, in a tweet.

Read the story here.

It’s an international — if not universal — phenomenon. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing.

I use Twitter to distribute this blog, along with other social media platforms. I don’t have millions of followers like the president does, but I certainly understand and appreciate the value of Twitter as a communications device.

So it is with that I offer a hats-off salute to the president for elevating Twitter’s presence on the world stage.

If only Donald Trump would learn to be more circumspect and thoughtful as he uses it.

Fat chance of that ever happening.

Blog alert! Having trouble publicizing these musings

High Plains Blogger uses several social media platforms to publicize its musings, missives, essays . . . whatever.

Facebook is one of them. At the moment, your friendly blogger — me! — is experiencing difficulty with Facebook.

I have notified the gurus at Facebook trying as best I can to explain the issue. I keep getting messages that say they’re working on the problem.

I’ll continue to post items on High Plains Blogger, but will depend on Twitter as my primary publicizing platform.

Bear with me. And with Facebook.