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Irons in the fire: How can I survive a Twitter world?

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 26 May 2016

I’m certain that I will never be accused of being a techno-wizard, but I feel like I’ve made a valiant effort to at least remain in the same solar system as the world becomes, at once, ever smaller and more complicated every day.

Social media is undoubtedly in the driver’s seat these days when it comes to the disbursement of information and misinformation. I can maneuver around a Facebook page with some level of competency, and a couple of weeks ago I started my own Instagram account.

It’s not that I feel compelled in any way to become more hip or en vogue, but it is a pretty convenient way to keep in touch with the comings and goings of my kids and any other acquaintance who wishes to be cyber-stalked.

Anymore, it seems to be the assumption of most people that everyone else in their sphere receives information, sustenance, water and oxygen from an app, delivered through some sort of electronic device. If I get a call from either of my two youngest sons, who are at college 180 miles away, I’ve learned not to panic.

They call if something really important, but non-life-threatening, has recently transpired (which they probably learned about from Snapchat or Instagram). One recent call was to let me know that Steph Curry scored 17 in overtime. Another was to tell me that Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill roped one in 3.42 seconds to win in Albuquerque.

You see, I don’t think they quite trust me with the really big stuff and my social networking abilities. If one of them broke a leg or, say, drove to Vegas to get married last weekend, they’d figure I’d find out from Facebook because of course they tagged me in a picture they posted on Instagram.

The whole digital social networking phenomenon really is a fascinating sociological study in human behavior. No doubt about it, people are communicating in wider circles and with more people than ever before. I’ve found that it’s best for me to limit my intake of social networking communication.

Failure on my part to do so can truly pose a serious threat to my mental well-being and sanity. For one thing, I’m kind of a spelling and grammar Nazi when it comes to the written word. I find I have little patience for what now seems to be acceptable methods of communication.

It makes my head and my sensibilities nearly explode to read the comment sections that follow most online newspaper articles. The poor grammar, punctuation and spelling are bad enough, but the endless stream of sanctimonious, vitriolic and mean-spirited comments spewed by the ignorant masses is enough to drive me over the proverbial edge if I over-indulge in reading such drivel.

Hence, I try to refrain from stepping into the trap, though sometimes I do take a peek. It’s kind of like the time I caught my thumb in my dally. I knew it wouldn’t help to take a look under the bandage, but I just couldn’t help myself. Looking only made me dizzy and light-headed and like I might have to barf. That’s about the same visceral reaction I get from reading the comment sections and realizing that the world has overfilled its idiot quota.

The other disheartening thing is that too many people seem to be too much like the part of me that I don’t particularly like. I’m talking about the part of me that apparently has complete disdain for opinions that differ from mine and contempt for the misinformed, uneducated Neanderthals who try to convey those opinions to anyone on “the other side.”

For example, I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups devoted to the ranching and cowboy communities. You’d think that would, for the most part, be pretty innocuous. Though I don’t expect that we all have the same opinions on every subject, I’ve been amazed and dismayed at how great our differences seem to be, when they shouldn’t even matter at all.

It seems that if you’ve ever run a calf through a calf table at branding, you should be banished to the outer vestiges of vegetarianism. I’ve also learned that, depending on your proximity to the Continental Divide, the quality of your character is wholly dependent on how flat your hat is, or how long your rope is.

Before I became enlightened by the marvels of modern communication methods, I mistakenly believed that it was ok to use different methods for different folks. Does it really make a guy less or more of a hand if he ties hard and fast in Texas or dallies with 60 feet in Nevada? Heaven forbid that you pen the calves and hire a dozen high school kids to wrestle and hold them at branding.

It’s no wonder we endured a civil war, and now Hillary and The Donald are our top two choices to lead the free world. Can’t we just all get along?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to comment on how some idiot doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re ….  end mark