Three years ago my friend Zach shared some pictures on Twitter of a stool he’d made.
Almost done with a simple, rough, but satisfying project. pic.twitter.com/LVKjCF4Gfd— Zach Beane (@xach) August 29, 2017
Zach posted this to show off a handsome, functional object that he rightly felt pride in creating. However, my immediate reaction to this tweet was confusion and irritation, even before I fully comprehended the tweet’s content.
The post has the textual and visual language of an extremely wry Twitter-joke of the sort I see tweeted and re-tweeted every day. Mental pattern-matching machinery wearily flew into action as I automatically tried to decipher the meme or other popular reference this tweet masked, but came up dry. Thus I began to feel frustrated almost the moment I saw the tweet, before I could recalibrate my contexts and admire my friend’s handiwork. I mean: literal handiwork, not the internet-japery kind.
This demonstrates a problem I’ve felt with timeline-based media consumption for many years. It mashes all your sources together in a slurry, and doles it out in evenly-sized chunks along a conveyor belt. Of course the saltiest flavors are going to seep into any more subtle tastes.
On my Twitter timeline, in 2017 as today, everything tastes at least a little like a certain kind of winking joke about some other joke. Clearly I do enjoy that sort of thing sometimes, or I wouldn’t have followed the sources that produce this humor. But, boy, it really does get into everything, once it’s there.
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