Social Media: A Parable

A few nights ago, on a warm summer evening, a bunch of us were out standing in the middle of our street down here in South Carolina.  One guy was talking about politics.  Another lady was talking about how she wanted to be the Mayor.  And I, as usual, was making snarky obnoxious comments and offending people with my caustic sense of humor.

It Will Just Be A Little Prick

It Will Just Be A Little Prick

Surprisingly, a crowd of people started developing around me — a couple of thousand.  Many of them laughed and enjoyed my humor.  Some didn’t like it, and headed down the street to where somebody had a solution to erectile dysfunction they wanted to talk about.  Even more surprisingly, some of the people enjoyed my shtick so much that they wrote down what I said and then sent it off to their friends to read — boy, was I impressed.

A guy in the house across the way came out, listened for a bit, and liked what he heard.  He asked if I would please come over to his house every single time I had something to say, and say it right in the middle of his living room.  Even if he wasn’t there.  Sounded a little crazy — I told him he could just get the jokes about zebras, or only listen to the stuff about peach trees — but he demanded every single thing I said. Even gave me a key to his house.

Then one day, I said something he didn’t like.  I don’t remember exactly what, but boy was he pissed!  “Where do you get off saying that?  There’s no place for that kind of talk!”  I reminded him that I had just been out talking on the street, and he had chosen me to invite into his home — but it didn’t help.  I told him that there was a big red button on my head he could click, and I’d disappear and he’d never, ever see me again — but that wasn’t enough, either.

He really wanted to make rules for the whole neighborhood.  Based on what he liked, what he thought was entertaining, and what he wanted to hear.

Oh — one more thing.  I lied.  It wasn’t my neighborhood.  I was talking about Twitter.


  1. David Glow says

    I personally LIKE your humor- refreshingly real.

    I share your frustrations with twitter. I recently had a respected colleague higher in the industry food chain take a very specific text passage from an interview (admittedly expressed quite poorly) and inferred something very inaccurate to his twitter disciples (in the thousands), essentially damaging my credibility.

    Thus, I also learned one of the painful lessons about this “social” tool- Systemic Social Inequity (I thought these tools were to be equalizers?). Although I could make my point of clarification to this colleague, this would never make its way to the thousands he passed bad information to.

    Guess tech can’t solve all the problems, eh?

    • dickcarl says

      Yeah, one of my favorite memes lately is “quote taken completely out of context”. I only do it to people I really, really like — ‘cuz it’s so much fun. Just about everybody mentions having sex with a 2,000 pound aardvark while stealing money from the poorbox at a Catholic Church near a graveyard, every now and then.