Dan's Soliloquy

This segment is from Roadwork Episode 115, starting at 1:17:40

There are lots of people I'm friends with in real life, or that I've known for years online, but what they put on Twitter is absolute crap. They retweet people who I think are idiots and so I don't follow those people. It is not personal, but the way they are on Twitter interferes with my ability to enjoy Twitter, which is minimal anyway! If they get on some kick where they are retweeting some subject that I am not interested in, I will mute them. After the mute wears off they come back and if they are doing more of it, I will unfollow them, but it's not personal!

People take it very personally if you follow them on Twitter, if you don't, or if you unfollow them. It is very personal to people because for whatever reason their identities get wrapped up in what they are doing online, on Twitter, or in social media. If you were going to judge who I am as a person based on my Twitter feed, "My God!", it makes me want to destroy every computer I've ever used because I'm not like that! Instagram is 1000 times more of a window into me than Twitter is, and Instagram isn't even slightly a window into me. Not that anyone would want that anyway, but if they did then Twitter would be the wrong place to go.

Somebody is always offended

With everything you say on Twitter now there will be somebody who is being hurt by it or be offended by it, no matter what it is! Those are legitimate feelings! Those people are legitimately being hurt and offended, they're not overreacting, but it bothers them or hurts them. That is just what happens when you speak to tens of thousands or millions of people: Eventually somebody is going to be offended or hurt by what you say. It is just the way it is, because there are a lot of people in the world. If you say something that is silly or funny, it might still affect other people.

We as human beings were not really designed to interact with that many people. They did some kind of a study saying that you can't have a meaningful friendship or relationship with more than a certain number of people. When we were living in a more tribal way, the largest size of a sustainable tribe was a certain size, like 43 or something. At that size you could know everybody, their kids and their parents and everyone else in the whole place, but once it exceeded a certain threshold you wouldn't be able to know everyone and have meaningful relationships with them. You might know them as a person that you saw at a party and you could say "Hi!" to them and talk to them, but it is not a meaningful relationship.

I was in Florida last week and it was horrible so I had to reset and I reset by getting barbecue. I went down to the barbecue place I've been a few times before and the lady remembered me and at the end of giving her my order she said "And no onions and no bread!" I've only been there for two or three times before, but she remembered that. Some people are better at that than others, but still: The idea of going out onto Twitter, saying something and knowing that almost anything you say is going to harm somebody else, that's no fun!

Because of the crowd-mentality of Twitter, the minute that somebody is legitimately hurt or offended there are 1000 other people who will rally to that person's cause, to defend them, to attack you and to destroy you. Fortunately this hasn't happened to me personally, but that's because the stuff I say on Twitter is nonsense. If someone is reading Twitter to glean anything about me on my account: Go somewhere else because it is nonsense! But that is not how a lot of people feel about Twitter. For a lot of people Twitter is how they communicate with the world and they assume everyone else treats it the same way, unless you're somebody who's only ever posted "Knock knock" jokes or something. Okay, that's the person who does the "Knock knock" jokes and I'm still offended because I don't like "Knock knock" jokes. I'm offended by that and they shouldn't do that!

We're just not designed and we're not engineered to communicate at that scale at that level. It's not like pursuing an interest, it's not like saying I'm going to go to the library and check out a book on this topic that I'm interested in, in order to see what this author says about it. And you know what? They are so wrong that I have to go and research and write my own book and I will get that published. That's not how it is anymore! It is instantaneous! It is tweeting at 2:00am, not really thinking about it and then realizing you said something dumb.

Twitter has changed

Things have definitely not turned out the way I thought they would and I definitely think that Twitter is harmful. I've gone from loving Twitter, especially when it was younger and newer, to now thinking that it has done me way more harm than good. Since the time when I used to care, when I used to communicate with people there and when I would say things there, it has become a very negative and poisonous environment. Now I have to look at it as a silly little thing and as a place to go to say funny little things, a place to go to ask "Hey! Does anybody know where I can get a Lightning cable for less than $10?", because anything more than that there is no value to it!

Everyone is trying to one-up everyone else with a better joke or a better response. I gave up on it completely and I got out. I didn't leave it, but I got out of trying to take it seriously, whereas John sort of took a break from it, went away from it for a while, and is kind of back. I think the people who are happiest on Twitter are the people who treat it as a one-way. "I'm going to say something, I'm not looking for responses, and I'm not even reading responses. I'm just going to tell you about my tour dates and here is a photo of me in the gym. #gains #lifegoals" and they get out. It's when you start trying to communicate with other people really that you run into that kind of trouble. But what does that say about us as a society? We are going in the wrong direction as a whole!

How we use our tools

I have to be on a computer because that's how I make my living, writing code, doing things like that, and I have Tweetbot running right now, but I almost never have Tweetbot running otherwise and I almost never look at Twitter during the day. I used to spend way too much time on Twitter, but now I moved the icon off my main screen of my phone and I have it on a sub screen now and I don't even want to use my phone.

If you went back in time and looked at the way people would use a typewriter: It was a tool. The way people would use a wrench or a hammer: It was a tool. "I need to go write something and I will sit down and type it on the typewriter", or if they were recording: "I'm going into the studio and speak into the microphone", but they were not sitting around with a microphone in their hand at 10:00pm. That's how we treat this kind of technology! It has gone beyond the point of people being addicted to it.

Twitter is an addiction

At least in calling it an addiction you acknowledge that this is a thing that you are doing: People who smoke cigarettes may have unconscious aspects of that ritual, but they know they are addicted because they are going to buy cigarettes when they are running low. They know what they are doing, because they are holding a cigarette. They are doing it and it is an activity, but people don't even realize that they are using Twitter or they don't realize that they are on Facebook. They just all of a sudden look down and: "Oh my God! I've been laying in bed staring at my phone for two hours! How did I get here? Why is it 1:00am now? Why am I late for work? I guess because I laid in bed reading Facebook for 45 minutes" I think it's poisonous! I think it went from something that could have been very beneficial to people to something poisonous!


Eight or nine years ago I didn't use Facebook at all when my next door neighbor said "We just got back from a trip. Do you want to see some pictures?" and he sent me a link to Facebook. That's how he shared pictures. That's how he shared the story of his trip with his family! It was on Facebook. More and more of this kept happening and I made a Facebook account so I could see these other things. All I really found on Facebook was ex-girlfriends from High School, but there was nothing that I ever liked there and I never spent that much time there.

Whom to follow

Twitter was much more appealing to me because at least when I first started with Twitter, the people that I knew there were fairly geeky. It was for nerds only at that time and you could get in, you could say something and you'd get out. "Oh, here is this funny thing, guys!" or "What do you think of this?" and I'm out. I think Twitter has been invaluable for helping spread the word about podcasts that I've done and shows that I've done and that's mainly what I do on there now: I'll go on there and I'll share or talk about something and if I have an announcement to make I'll make it. I will read other people's Twitter sometimes. But I follow very few people.

My rules for whom I follow on Twitter for the most part are

  • I have to have met them in real life.
  • I have known them online for an extended period of time, meaning I have done a podcast with them or I have emailed with them for many years or something like that, or
  • they are a public figure or celebrity type person whose work I'm interested in, and that's really it.

I generally do not follow anyone who doesn't fit into that criteria. I'm not saying that there might not be an exception or two in there, but I follow less than 100 people. That system eliminates so much of the meaningless banter and chatter. Twitter is how I'm going to see what the people that I care about are are up to. If you are one of the people that I met in person, then I would consider you potentially a friend or an acquaintance and I'm following you not out of obligation anymore, and not because you follow me, but because I'm genuinely interested in you, in your life, and the things that you are doing.

That might be true for a media figure or a public figure whose work I appreciate that I've never met. I follow Mark Mothersbaugh just in case Devo comes to Austin and I will want to go see them, or maybe he comes out with some weird new music for something and I want to hear about it. I am not engaging in conversation with him, but I am just looking for his "Oh I did this new thing!" There are podcasters I follow because I want to know when they do a show, or I want to hear their thoughts about it. Maybe there is a little inside information or a little backstage thing that is interesting, but I'm no longer just following people because they said something interesting or funny or outrageous.

Unfollowing people who get upset about it

I am no longer following people just to follow them or because my friends said you should follow this person because they are really funny. I eliminated all of that and I probably unfollowed 300 people or more. Now Twitter has become very boring for me, which has made it easier for me to not spend too much time on it, because now if somebody tweets it will be like "Oh, I know that person. Why? Because when I was in New York I toured their office and had lunch with them. That's why I follow that person." I don't care if they follow me or not. It no longer feels like a game. It is not competitive, it is not anything anymore except a way to follow up with people I like.

When I unfollowed people en masse, a bunch of them said "Oh, you are unfollowing me!" I don't know how exactly they know, is there a thing that tells them if someone unfollows you? I don't know! Others were like "I tried to direct message you and I noticed you don't follow me anymore so I had to write this email" Good! I'd like to communicate with you over email better anyway. But then I opened my DM's so that people could just DM me.

In the days when I was just following people for the sake of following them I would look at my Twitter feed and it was just frustrating! I said "Gosh, so many people! There is so much happening!" and I would miss the stuff that I actually cared about. My friends who just had a kid announced it on Twitter. I didn't see it because there were 500 tweets and retweets about something Trump said. I can see what he said if I want by going to the news websites and I'll see what he said or I'll watch the video. I don't need to hear other people retweeting it.


Then there is this whole matter about opinions. The fact is: I don't usually agree with anybody on anything. I found that I started to dislike people that I liked because their opinions were different. I wouldn't sit and talk politics with somebody at dinner unless that is the person I go and talk politics with. I don't want to engage in a deep political conversation with a regular friend unless I am prepared to do that with that person. I don't want to see that constantly in my feed because I don't agree with anybody about anything. Literally, there's nothing anyone has ever said I agree with completely, and it became frustrating to see all this stuff.

One guy that I know is always talking about how bad cars are and how cities are designed around cars instead of around people. Cars are a plague and he is constantly making fun of cars. Bikes are the next big thing and these little scooters that people ride around are the next big thing. But what he is really saying is that people who don't agree with him on this don't get it. They don't really see the future! Every time I've talked to him about it, he will always point these things out and he is always talking about cities. I don't live in the city part! I live out in Suburbia and where I live, a car is how people get around. It is the Austin Texas suburbs! Cars are the way we get around and that's how we do everything. I don't need to be made feeling bad that I have a car or that I use it, or that I don't use the capacity. A lot of the time there are four or five people in my car, at the very least there are three. I respect what he is saying about cities and things like that, but for some of us having a car is well suited to do the job that it needs to do out here. I guess I get to unfollow him because this is all he is talking about.

It has gotten to the point where we can't just have fun conversations anymore because it very quickly becomes about different opinions. If it makes you feel bad, then stop doing it, so I stopped doing it. Twitter does feel like a competitive place and when people continuously get on a kick about something, they are thinking of Twitter the same way I am thinking of Twitter: They can go and talk about this thing, but I don't care! Good, I don't have to follow them. I do have criteria where if I haven't met you or if I don't know you or haven't gotten to know you, then I am probably not going to follow you. If I did, all of a sudden I'm going to find out that you're really into barbaric knitting and you're going to retweet every comment about knitting that comes up and now I've got 50 tweets about knitting in my feed that I don't care about.

Good for you! I don't want to hear about it, but I can't filter it out. It is very different from the web where you can find the article that you are interested in, you can read that article or that series of articles, or you can go on a subreddit that is interesting to you and read the things people are saying on that subreddit. Twitter is not categorized that way, it has no categorizations! You can say hashtags, but I'm not following any hashtags! I don't want to follow hashtags because then I've got millions of people, not just the people who are dedicated enough to post to this one board. You think you are categorizing your feed by following certain people but you are really not.

Different realms of interest

You are just opening yourself up to the flood of whatever is interesting to that person and generally speaking: I'm not that interested in most of the stuff other people are interested in. I'm interested in my stuff and I'm interested in a percentage of the stuff that John is interested in and there is a lot of stuff that John is interested in that I don't care about and I'm positive the reverse is true. When I am tweeting about something that has to do with the next Ruby on Rails release candidate, John doesn't care about that. Or if I'm talking about the game of Splatoon I played with my kid, John doesn't have a Nintendo Switch and he doesn't care about that.

It might be passingly interesting to him, but what if I started ranting about something that John actually fundamentally disagreed with, whatever that might be? Now he has to make a choice: ignore me, engage with me by potentially fighting me on it, or just feeling bad about not doing anything. None of those are good choices! I feel like it causes so much harm! This whole thing with Roseanne Barr tweeting about the thing that wound up getting her show canceled: Now she is depressed and all screwed up. That was a really dumb thing to say and a really dumb thing to do. And look at the trouble she has gotten in over that, rightfully perhaps! She didn't have to do that at 2:00am after she took her Ambient or whatever her story was. That was a really dumb thing to do. If there had been no Twitter, she wouldn't have done it.

There is no barrier between your thoughts and what you say on Twitter. Most people don't hold anything back. They say whatever they feel like they want to say. If you happen to be a person with enough of a following you are going to hurt other people's feelings and you are going to offend them and that is just no good.

That is all I got to say about that. Am I wrong?

Dan the pessimist

What I just said is too pessimistic for the listeners! Nobody wants to hear that. I'm very pessimistic. I used to think I was just realistic and people would tell me "You are very pessimistic", but "No! I am realistic and you are pessimistic or you are too optimistic! You can't see the real world!" and now it is just flat out pessimism and cynicism. That is all that is left after my soul got eaten. I want to change it, I want it to be better, I don't want it to be that way, and I want Twitter to be a fun place I can go.

Disney Muppet Vision 4D

I once worked at the Disney theme parks and one of my jobs was the Muppet vision 3D, which they changed into 4D with the 4th dimension being audience participation. I worked at Muppet vision 4D where your job was to herd the guests into one of two theaters. First there is the little theater where they are standing and waiting. Then there is a bigger theater where they will watch the main movie in 3D, There are Muppets interacting with them, Sweetums comes out on stage and that type of thing. You would herd the people into that and you also had to hand them out their 3D glasses.

The way Disney Parks work is: There is a rotation through the four or five different positions in a particular attraction. You would start out at the first position which might be the entrance where your job was to basically stand around out there as people come through the turnstile, you are handing them their 3D glasses and when they would get to 550 people, you would say "Okay, no more for this show! That's enough! That's as many people can come in" and they would say "Okay!" and then you have to stand and wait. At the next position you would be inside, herding the people into the small room and you had to interact with them at certain times and hit a button on the wall that would open the doors, or grab a microphone and entertain people and things like that.

The next position was inside the big theater, which was my favorite because it was so nice, cool and dark in there. It would be 100 degrees and humid outside, but it was nice and cool in the theater and the movie was entertaining. You got to stand down at the front and talk to the people as they were coming in, guide them to their seats and make fun of them in a gentle Disney friendly way. You also got to interact with the Statler and Waldorf up on the wall and the penguins would nod to you as they were coming up to do their song.

The next position after that was exit. Exit was hard because the movie was only 8 minutes long and you had only the time while the movie was playing to get 500-600 3D glasses out. As the guests were leaving, they would throw their 3D glasses into these bins that look like big trash cans and inside would be a burlap sack. There were two or three of those and you would have to collect them all, take them into a little tiny room the size of a bathroom, bigger than a bathroom in a jet but not much bigger. You would have to dump the glasses out onto a table and sort them.

The 3D glasses would get abused by the guests and they would be broken. They could get bent in half, lenses could be popped out and other things. Those glasses were pretty cheap, but they would cart them off on a truck to this special station way back in the hidden areas of the park. They had a special truck just for this! You would load them on the truck, you would drive them out there and take them to this little mini factory where they would either clean the glasses in some way and reuse them or they would take them apart and literally melt them down and make new ones out of them.

The point is: In this one part of the attraction you would grab those sacks, you take the glasses, you sort them and you put them into these special racks. If they were broken you had to do certain things with them and if they were broken in a certain way they'd go in one bin or another bin. You had to sort them all up and then get back out there and return the bags into their trash can receptacle things before the doors opened, because when the doors opened you had to be standing there saying "Okay ladies gentlemen, please put your 3D glasses into these containers." That part was very stressful.

But the point is: Nobody knew that you were doing any of this stuff and they actually had it timed in such a way so that you would never wind up being the front person at the front and also the person inside or the person in the back. They had timed it in such a way so that your rotation was always going and that it would not be looking like one person was doing all of the jobs. In other words: If you went to the attraction you wouldn't see the same person twice. It was always a different person and I guess that added to the mystery of it. Behind the scenes at all of these attractions there was all kinds of chaos going on. There was all kinds of things that the guests should never see.

There is that aspect about how Disney created the magic, because you never saw that, but when you go to a cheaper Park, I'm not going to pick on Universal, but you know what I mean, you would see things that you would never see it in a Disney park! At Disney you would never see somebody away from their attraction wearing the costume meant for that attraction. You would never see someone who worked at the Haunted Mansion walking across the park to go get a Coke and a snack or walking to their car. You would never see that! The entrance to the Haunted Mansion was down below and you would go down into the tunnel and the tunnel would lead you to wardrobe which is where you get changed and then you would get on a shuttle that would take you to your car and you would leave. You just sort of magically appeared in your attraction in full costume.

The other parks they built later didn't have tunnels, but you would walk backstage, because we were called cast members, you would have an entrance to the backstage area and you would walk backstage. Again: You were never just seen walking through the park with half your costume on, smoking a cigarette. That would never happen! Disney did a good job of keeping that magic. In other parks you would see things like that often enough that it would ruin the magic and the whole image.

Seeing everybody at all levels of preparedness

I feel like that is what we are dealing with with things like Twitter: You are getting to see people on their worst behavior! You are getting to see these things that no one should ever see. You are getting to to interact with everybody at all levels of preparedness and I just I think it is a mess!

I had a pretty good costume when I worked there. The shoes were Converse high tops, which I already owned, but it was nice because they were super comfortable. Anyway, that's what I think!

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