On social media, politics and maturity

Now that I’m an oh-so-sophisticated purveyor and consumer of social media — one of the Twitterati, no less — I find myself embarrassed whenever I look back at a post I wrote in 2006 about Andre Bauer.

The post went like this:

Andre Bauer is coming in for his interview at 4. I’m reviewing a few questions for him between now and then. I’m curious: What would you ask a lieutenant governor who:

  • When stopped speeding down Assembly Street, charged so aggressively at the cop that he felt threatened enough to draw his weapon?

  • When driving 101 mph on a wet highway, got on the police radio frequency to tell the patrolman pursuing him that “SC2” was “passing through,” and when he was stopped anyway, asked, “Did you not hear me on the radio?”

  • Lying to reporters about that incident, then saying you “forgot” about it when confronted with the evidence?

  • Showed up to negotiate with the Department of Transportation a price for land he owned — with a member of the transportation commission in tow?

  • Has his own Myspace site?

  • Seems almost certain to win the GOP nomination again?

The problem is that penultimate item. It was, for me at the time, sort of shorthand for someone who was too juvenile to play with adults. Of course, I was redeemed somewhat later by the fact that Myspace came to be seen as sadly out of it. But I would have said the same thing about a Facebook page. I just saw it as something kids did.

That was the year — 2006 — that social media came into its own, when serious businesses started seeing that they had to be on FB and, a bit later, Twitter (Twitter wasn’t even launched until several months after I wrote that item). This was also, not coincidentally I think, about the time that the bottom sort of fell out of advertising revenues for newspapers. (The post was written June 7, 2006, and there was a precipitous drop in MSM advertising over the course of that summer.)

By the time I really became a Twitter fiend in 2009, I was pretty embarrassed for having seen social media as not for grownups.

But now… I’m starting to wonder whether maybe I had a point. Not about Twitter. Twitter is the best news-bulletin service I’ve ever seen, among other things. But beyond posting pictures I want to share with friends and family, I continue to harbor doubts about Facebook.

And our governor is the source of a lot of those doubts.

Nikki Haley has shown a marked preference for Facebook over communicating through the MSM. Like many lesser-known people, she sees it as empowering that she doesn’t have to go through editors to say what she’d like.

And yet, time and again, she has demonstrated why everybody needs an editor. A search of “Haley” and “Facebook” on this blog yields:

The other day, Kathryn took exception to my use of the term “Girl Fight” to call attention to the Haley-Shealy contretemps. But did it not strike you as more girlish than womanly, as lacking in a certain dignity? It did me. But then, I’m the guy who made fun of Anton in 2006…


24 thoughts on “On social media, politics and maturity

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Girlish is refusing to wear any color but pink. It was immature. You would not have said ” boyish” if the people were male. You did not call Andre “boyish” and if you had, folks would have thought you were referring to his jejune hairstyle

  2. Brad Warthen

    Neither “boyish” nor “girlish” is an insult, usually. It generally refers to a youthfulness. A man called “boyish” might be flattered; a woman may like to be told she retains her girlish figure.

    If I wished to speak of a man as immature, a better word would be “puerile.”

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I have no idea what you mean, because I’ve never been able to nail down the meaning of the word “sexist.” It seems highly malleable. It’s like the feminist version of “aloha.” It can mean “hello” as easily as “goodbye.”

        I said “Girl fight!” because a couple of women were having a most unseemly, undignified set-to in public. It worked. It invoked the playground, which is where this sort of thing seems to belong. I don’t see any level on which it doesn’t work.

        Did I mean to say they were acting like something less than grown women? You betcha. If that’s what was communicated, it worked. And I see no problem with using such a device to communicate that.

  3. Matt Bohn

    I still can’t get over the Baretta pistol Christmas post. Sure, she might have been angling for Baretta to come to South Carlina. But still, to gloat about “being a good girl” when describing her gift at Christmas seems almost obscene. To equate a day of joy and peace to getting a gun seems contrary to the holiday. I have many firearms but I wouldn’t brag about getting one for Christmas. Maybe it’s because I’m Catholic, but to revel in such a gift at that time of year seems so wrong on so many levels. I hope I don’t offend, but Christmas Day would be the last place I would brag about getting a gun.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Which raises the question, would Jesus have carried a gun?

        No, but Peter would have. It would have been a lot easier than carrying that sword around. The one he used to cut off Malchus’ ear.

        Jesus, of course, had on a previous occasion recommended going armed. It was sufficiently important that if you didn’t have a sword, it was worth selling your cloak to buy one. But then, when told by the Twelve that they had two swords, he said that was enough. Indicating that he wanted them more as a sort of token resistance, rather than an effective defense.

        Then there are the differing accounts of Jesus’ reaction to Peter’s attempt to fight off those who had come to arrest him. In Matthew, in the passage beloved of pacifists, he suggests that living by the sword is futile. But in John, he basically says it’s his destiny to be arrested (“Shall I not drink the cup* that the Father gave me?“), so resistance is pointless. Which seems consistent with the “two swords are enough” assertion earlier…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Makes you wonder why Peter wasn’t arrested, too — or killed out of hand, on the spot. That was no mere gesture — to cut off an ear suggests he was aiming to kill. And the fact that he attacked some mere slave rather than a soldier, an actual threat, suggests he was attacking rather wildly. (Peter was a fisherman, not a fighting man. The incident reminds me of these shootings in which some young idiot wildly fires a pistol and hits everybody except the one he was aiming at. It’s one of those messy details that indicates this is a true story.)

          The arresting party must have been under really strict orders to bring in Jesus and avoid further complications to let something like that go. Jesus had just assured them that he’d go along peacefully if they let the others go. So they agreed to that. If Peter had succeeded in drawing blood from a soldier, though, all bets would probably have been off. That would have been the end of Peter.

    1. Bryan Caskey


      A firearm is a tool. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It doesn’t have an evil spirit inside it. It’s simply a tool – a thing. Even the rifles that are black, with the “shoulder-thingy that folds down”, yeah, the’re just things.

      Some people find the craftsmanship of firearms to be beautiful. Some people don’t. Some people find the craftsmanship of cars to be beautiful, and they like going to car shows and driving around. Some people think the craftsmanship of fine china is beautiful, and they like serving food on it. Some people collect pretty stones fashioned into ornamental, ew items. It’s just stuff. Things. They aren’t good or bad.

      So she likes the fact that she received a Beretta handgun. Big whoop. It’s pretty ordinary to Facebook a picture of what you got for Christmas. (Yes, it’s OK to use “Facebook” as a verb.)

      It’s not “obscene” to enjoy receiving an object. It’s not “obscene” to enjoy firearms. Just because someone likes firearms doesn’t make them a bad person. It’s a personal opinion. You don’t like getting handguns for Christmas? Fine, I won’t buy you any. Why do you feel the need to rain on someone else who does?

      It’s not because you’re a Catholic. It’s because you’re intolerant of other types of viewpoints and cultures. In this instance, you’re being intolerant of the culture of folks who enjoy and appreciate firearms. But I guess diversity of viewpoints and diversity of culture is acceptable only if it’s the Approved Viewpoint and the Approved Culture.

      Obviously, the culture of people who enjoy firearms isn’t on the Approved List.

      And don’t feed me this “It’s contrary to the spirit of the holiday” tripe. You know, the whole materialistic gift giving thing seems pretty contrary to larger point of Christianity to me. Did you request no gifts for your Christmas in order to be more spiritually aligned with the larger ideals of Christianity? No? Ok then. Unless you’re going to take the position that no gifts should be given or received on Christmas, spare me the “spirit of the holiday” stuff.

      1. Doug Ross

        If I had a gun, Bryan, I would shoot it in the air like Yosemite Sam to celebrate your post. Instead, I am left with my finger guns. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        “A well regulated Social Media, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to use Facebook as a verb, shall not be infringed.”

        Yes, Bryan, handguns are tools. They are tools for killing people, period. They’re not shotguns; they’re not rifles.

        If Lady MacBeth got a dagger for Christmas and proudly put a picture of it on Facebook, it would have chilled people’s blood, and rightly so.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And by the way, my favorite Christmas present I ever got as a kid was my Daisy Model 1894 BB gun. I thought it was a thing of beauty and might have posted a picture of it on Facebook had Facebook existed.

          But then, I was a little kid, and it was a really exciting present — especially seeing that, as with the kid in the movie, all my previous entreaties for such a gift had been rebuffed by my parents. My mother even invoked the “you’ll shoot your eye out” objection.

          Speaking of which — one of my best friends in college, who today is the editorial page editor of a capital-city newspaper in another state, doesn’t have peripheral vision in one eye because he took a BB in it when he was a kid. (When he and I were copy clerks together in Memphis, he wrecked a company car one day from failing to see another car in the lane next to him.) But then, he wasn’t using it as prescribed. He and his brothers played war with their guns, and actually shot at each other.

        2. Silence

          “handguns are tools. They are tools for killing people, period. They’re not shotguns; they’re not rifles.” – Brad Warthen citing the precedent laid out in 1975 by respected legal scholar Lynyrd Skynyrd. (see Mr. Saturday Night Special v. MCA, 1975)

        3. Bryan Caskey

          Yeah, but that’s because Lady MacBeth was a stone cold gangster. The blood chilling effect has to do with the person – not the object. If the curator of the Smithsonian Facebooked a similar photo with a old dagger, would your blood be equally chilled?

          Also, I have to respectfully disagree with distinction you’re trying to make between handguns and long arms. Sorry to be blunt about it, but rifles and shotguns are actually much more effective at killing…if that’s your intended use. The US Army didn’t storm the beaches at Normandy with just a bunch of 1911s.

          To me, the only advantage of a handgun (in the killing dept.) is that a handgun is small, so you can easily conceal it on your person or otherwise. For instance, you can tape one behind the tank of an old water closet in an Italian restaurant if need be.

          1. Silence

            The 1911, which is a vastly superior firearm to the Beretta Haley got for Christmas, I might add.

      3. Matt Bohn

        I suppose you’re right. I am being intolerant. I look at Christmas through a lens that is rose-colored. It was always my favorite holiday as a child. It was about going to Mass and spending time as a family. To me it IS obscene to post about guns on Christmas but to others it obviously isn’t. That’s great but I have my own opinion. BTW I did get a bb gun for Christmas as a kid. It was a great present but nothing beat the Guns of Navarone playset I got when I was 11. With a working elevator and medics and everything! I really wish I still had it. So I guess I’m a hypocrite as well. I can live what that.

  4. susanincola

    Gov Haley didn’t put that picture up because she got a gun for Christmas. It was a political act to indicate solidarity with a certain group of people. Doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas. I think the whole game is kind of dumb, but then I’m not a part of the group she’s trying to attract, either.

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