The Town Square is Across the Street

Twitter is not a town square, it is a rowdy bar best avoided

When you are a drinker you hang around with other hedonistic imbibers. Together you can end up just about anywhere as long as there’s lots of booze. Back in my early non-believing days as a sailor, I often ended up in one of the Mile of Bars in National City, California on a regular basis. My first time there, I selected the song Ghost Riders in the Sky by Vaughn Monroe on the jukebox. One of the biker women came over to see what I chose. She smiled looked at me saying: “I like that song, you can stay now,” and walked away back to the barstool.

Another time I was having a good conversation with one of the bikers and, later, I mentioned it to a friend of mine what a great guy he is. He said, “oh he is a good guy just don’t get him mad or he’ll kill you.”

Finally, a new bartender started working there. The story was related to me by my friends. The bikers did not think he acted masculine enough and called him the three-letter f word. That happened only once. He beat up the one who called him the term and from then on he was their bartender.

A common name for places like this is ‘a bucket of blood’. I hated going there but that’s where my friends used to go and there was plenty of booze. When you drink, that is what you do. When I quit drinking, I was happy to never show up at that place again. Many of those establishments along the Mile of Bars are gone including the car dealer who sold me a Chevy Monza with a defective firewall. If you are looking for an analogy of them on the internet try Twitter.

The internet world was overcome by an earthquake of sorts this week with the purging by Twitter, which has been going on since its inception. However, starting with the president, Twitter de-platformed many accounts in mid-January. This so shocked the Twittersphere that a movement started called 13Miercoles [13Wednesday] in the Spanish speaking world in which people took a day off tweeting to protest. One of the screenshots popular on Thursday the 14th was from The Simpsons: Children playing outside like they first discovered it was there because they stopped watching cartoons. Writers used it to describe what their day was like without “Tuitter”

Several world leaders left the platform; others stated the act was disturbing because they de-platformed another world leader, the president of the United States.

I know nothing about Jack Dorsey, do not know much about Twitter although I have accounts I rarely use. and I write on Medium where Ev Williams is a founder and a co-founder of Twitter.

I am not so quick to call this the end of free speech. In fact, I kind of yawn and I am happy. It seems to be more like trying to clean up one of the establishments on the Mile of Bars in National City, which by the way is long gone.

I am not a fan of social media except for places like Medium. This is because Medium is about articles of any length, not 280 characters. Jack Dorsey did nothing wrong morally or legally with his de-platforming move. I know he said that he was going to do more of it after the inauguration.

People call Twitter the town square and say that it is denying free speech. Twitter is the rowdy bar. What Twitter execs did is similar to the manager telling a group of rowdies they need to leave and take their business elsewhere. It is a private platform they have the right to do this.

This would be different if you actually paid to have a Twitter account. You don’t. It is all free thanks to advertising. In fact, the reason why it’s free is that you are the product, not the customer. Facebook does the same. People think it is an international town square. It just is not.

If you want to go to the town square then go there, Twitter is not it.

Jack Dorsey actually now acted like an editor or publisher who decides whether or not to publish your words. This includes the words of the former president. He has that right and many of us writers deal with that consistently. We know the many stories of not only our rejections but the great authors who got so many rejections they could use them as wallpaper.

 People believe that Twitter is banning conservative speech so that only leftists may speak on Twitter. Ok, so it has become like the mainstream media which has been slanted for decades. Remember, Donald Trump was not the first to call out media as fake. Hillary did before him and Noam Chomsky warned about it for decades. Hillary is left-wing and Noam Chomsky is far left wing.

So, in fact, little changed. Suddenly people are standing there shocked like seeing the rowdies told to leave the bar. “No one has the right to get them to leave,” you and your friends complain, “This is the town square!” At which point the server while bringing you another round of beers tells you that the town square is that greenspace across the street. In New England, they call it the common.

I actually think Jack Dorsey did people of favor. He demonstrated where he stands on who can use his platform; he allows people to decide whether to remain on Twitter. Many will not. Remember, none of these patrons pay anything. They are literally like the rowdy people who sit at the table and do not order or pay for a meal they just talk and talk and talk into a rowdy stupor.

Twitter also keeps a record of everything you write. Imagine you are sitting in the above-mentioned bar enjoying a beer and someone approaches you complaining that seventeen years ago you said that you do not like “rice burners” (Japanese motorcycle) and he rides a Honda. You never met the person before and this guy wants to make you the latest example of why they call the place ‘a bucket of blood’. Few are all upset with this side of Twitter but they are upset with telling people who can enter the rowdy bar and who must leave.

You complain, “they tossed Jimmy out of the bar. He was a good guy. He only beat up people and never killed anyone. This is unfair.” Your non-drinking friends shocked at your words ask you why you go there in the first place.

Twitter (or Tuitter) is not the town square and never was. It is best to find a better place in the real world, maybe even the common. You will find it across the street from the bucket of blood. Unless that bar has gone the way of the Mile of Bars in National City and the car dealer who sold me a Chevy Monza with a defective firewall.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash