Gut Check: Twitter Beats Terror


Twitter is the priority toilet.

Meaning, whatever was vital yesterday, is gone the next. Important crap gets flushed like irrelevant fecal drama into a forgotten sewer beneath us – never to be seen again. Until, of course, there’s a similar scandal, crisis or vacuous awards show demanding two sentences of cleverness.

Then specific types of tweets repeat themselves. Like these…

– The “hot take” tweet.  That’s where some wag tweets a “blunt” thought to “shake things up” – i.e. impress his fellow dipsticks in the media that he’s clever. The typical hot take (“save your thoughts and prayers”) pretends to be daring, but is quickly replicated until it becomes a badge of mediocrity by desperate copycats.

– The “I care more than you” tweet.  Usually after a mass shooting, it’s from someone who feels compelled to shame anyone or anything – like the NRA or any gun owner – in particular. It magnificently backfired on Jim Carrey years ago. People do these tweets to feel better about their impotent lives – and hope you feel better about them too. It’s not born from sincere selfless rage, but instead to say, “I’m morally superior.” It ends up making that person look immorally inferior. When you tweet such nonsense, we imagine you doing it in a onesie. You are.

– The “I’m a part of this tragedy” tweet. Perhaps one of most pathetic missives of all – these involve people tying an event into their own lives – as their sole reason to tweet. “Wow, I was just in Paris three years ago!” exclaims a dolt.  “I saw Stone Temple Pilots in 94, and Scott gave me a hug,” says another. “I had a great fish taco in San Bernardino, right around that place where it happened.”

– The retweet of a personal insult directed at you, to your fans to raise your own esteem. I used to do this, until I realized I was being a baby. Sometimes I will still do it with a truly egregious tweet, but I think I’ve beat this habit. If you’re not sure what I mean, it goes like this:
*You tweet something serious about something to the world.
*Then someone responds telling you that you’re a stupid piece of shit who should die or get sodomized by a goat.
*You retweet that to your followers, hoping they galvanize a glorious attack on the person who hurt your feelings.
*They do, and you feel great about it for twelve minutes. Then you feel sad again.

It’s mob incitement in fairly harmless form (no one gets tarred and feathered, or beaten to death with sticks). But it’s still an invitation to mob, and it’s becoming more common outside online spaces. I wish it just stayed on Twitter.

My bigger point: What trended on Twitter on the Saturday – just one day after – San Bernardino: nothing about San Bernardino. Terror evaporated from the Twitterverse.

Instead we had trending:

‪Charlie Strong‪
‪Kim and Kanye‪

It’s not Twitter’s fault or your fault.  I saw this after Paris as well. The number one trend a few days after… I can’t even remember it. It might have been one of those silly contests where people try to out-humor each other by changing movie titles to things about cats. What I really remember: Paris was in the rear view mirror of our preoccupations.

So what does this tell us about Twitter?

Perhaps it’s simply documenting our immediate interests. So, while a terror attack will trend, the Twitter thermometer registers it. Then when the glow fades, the temperature drops. And whatever peaks the interest of three million 14-year-olds quickly takes over.

I realize Twitter can be good, providing a video game of creativity for your brain. As writer and provocateur Gavin McInnes once pointed out to me while drunk: you tweet to see what gets retweeted. It’s Pong for your wit, for your eloquence, your cleverness. Other than that, it’s an ongoing rain of shit from the collective ambivalence of a rattled, self-involved country.

That rain of shit holds only one message: that we possess neither the will nor the way to counter what now happily threatens our existence.  If our lack of attention and ambivalence forbids us from obsessing over one horrific crime for at least 48 hours, how can we actually convince a country to fight an existential threat responsible for that horrific crime?

If ISIS had its own Twitter, my guess is, the trends would be: #killinfidels #killmoreinfidels and #killinfidelsfriends. And #wherecanijerkofftogoats

We don’t have that.

But our enemies? They have the will, the concentration, the desire to win.  We have none of the three (yet). Our attention is a slave to fears of isolation, because being alone forces us to think about pretty scary stuff.

I wonder: what would Twitter have been like after 9/11?  What would be trending?

Hashtags featuring gooey hearts and #NYCforever, links to JayZ’s monotonous song, maudlin pics of the skyline, and so on. The sentimental grub that replaces actual action does us no good in preventing the apocalypse. And you can bet, that quickly – perhaps in mere days – the trends would shift to #proudtobeMuslim, #nobacklash, #stopthehate and something about football or a celebrity death.

So, in conclusion, I have to get off Twitter.

(I’ve said it before, and I never do).

Greg Gutfeld is a mainstay on Fox News as co-host of The Five and host of The Greg Gutfeld Show. He’s also the NY Times best-selling author of Not Cool and The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage. For more from Greg check out his official site or follow him on Twitter.


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