Twitter, in Four Sentences

Terry Teachout

Back in 2015, Wall Street Journal columnist, author and arts critic Terry Teachout had a few choice comments to make about Twitter — then as now one of the more controversial of the social media platforms.

With the passage of time — as well as significant elections, referenda and other socio-political developments intervening — it’s interesting to go back and read Mr. Teachout’s comments again.

From his perspective, in 2015 Teachout had postulated that the essence of Twitter could be boiled down to four statements, as follows:

  • How dare you talk about A, when B is infinitely more important?
  • If I disagree with you, you’re almost certainly arguing in bad faith — and are probably evil as well.
  • You are personally responsible, in toto and in perpetuity, for everything that your friends, colleagues, and/or ancestors have ever said, done, or thought.
  • (Statements #2 and #3 do not apply to me.)

Looking at these statements, it’s pretty remarkable how little has changed.

Or has it? What do you think?

[In an interesting side-development, Terry Teachout’s own Twitter account was hacked in 2018 — several years after he published his statements above.  As he recounts here, trying to get all of that sorted out with the social media platform was it’s own special kind of misery, even if ultimately successful.]

One thought on “Twitter, in Four Sentences

  1. Twitter is arguably a new form of neurotic power, but it also reflects our weakness, ill-temper, discomfort with change and lack of community.

    In the past, we would approach friends and neighbors — people living near us who shared something in common — to adopt our point of view. We knew them personally. These days we are empowered to contact anybody and everybody. Yet, in the era of “diversity” we may no longer have a “community” underfoot of people like ourselves.

    So there appears to be a certain desperation in seeking “followers”. We are all “chiefs”, but the “braves” we command are no longer in the encampment. Instead, someone in the next tepee is spewing angry tweets to “followers” of his own.

    Society isn’t coming apart. But we are certainly holding it together with strange glue.

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