Tag Archives: Twitter

Politics: Neither Fun nor Profitable

Schlock Mercenary is, in its heart of hearts, satire. It has always been political, but those messages are delivered in the abstract. It is sociopolitical satire framed in military sci-fi comedy. It invites the reader to laugh as they ask questions, but it does not commit to giving them hard and fast answers.

On rare occasion the blog posts beneath the comic have been a bit more explicitly political. Over the years I’ve determined that political punditry isn’t something I enjoy, and that the people who find it profitable seem to also encourage a widening of the spaces between us, driving both the left and the right to more entertaining¹ extremes. Mostly, then, my blog is about movies and merchandise.

Of late, however, my Twitter feed has been extremely political. This isn’t because I enjoy politics, nor because I’m seeking attention. It’s because important things are happening², and I believe they’re important enough for me to expend a bit of my social capital to boost critical messages. I still tweet the slice-of-life silliness I used to, but the mirth is diluted a bit.

The pattern described above is likely to continue:

  • Schlock Mercenary is going to follow the outline I’ve established for it, and won’t wander off into what would definitely be the weeds for the story I’m telling in order to take specific political positions.
  • The blog below the comic is going to focus mostly on movie review things, merchandising, and the occasional public service announcement.
  • My Twitter feed is going to reflect my personal opinions on matters of the soul, the State, and a scattering of other things. It’s going to remain on the side-bar here at schlockmercenary.com, but you’re neither required nor expected to read it.

Regardless of what is said in any of these spaces, each of them belongs to me. I’m under no obligation, legal or moral, to give equal time to positions other than my own³. I do feel a strong obligation to say things that are true. I aspire to the high levels of journalistic integrity currently demonstrated by people like Farenthold and Tapper, but I’m not a journalist, so I’m much more likely to get things wrong from time to time.

¹ “Entertaining” in the same way that watching a car accident is entertaining. I hold the modern pundit-provocateur in extremely low regard. 

² Political protest appears to be on track to be the American national pastime for 2017, displacing Baseball.


³ My personal political positions have changed over the years, and some have flipped nearly 180 degrees. You can peruse howardtayler.com/blog if you’d like (not everything there cross-posts to schlockmercenary.com) but only the most current stuff is going paint an accurate reflection of what I think.


Muting, And Why I’m a Selfish Twitterer

Twitter has a mute function, and I use it rather indiscriminately. I’m kind of selfish that way. Life is short, and while there are thousands of people willing to listen to me (a happy accident no doubt related to how I earn my keep) I don’t have the time to listen to each and every one of them.

But I have friends whose tweets I want to read, and with whom I want to converse. Publicly, even. I also enjoy interacting with random fans, assuming the interaction is a nice one. I especially enjoy interacting with interesting people, and learning new things.

Unfortunately, Twitter creates the illusion that we are right there in the room while our favorite entertainers banter with one another. The temptation to interject is strong. So we interject. I know, I’ve embarrassed myself doing this exact thing.

In the real world, walking up to a conversation and dropping a one-liner is a bit of a faux pas, and holding up your tablet to show everybody a video, even if it’s related, will get you shouldered out of the circle in short order. (I could tell you a story about that exact thing happening in a bar at Westercon, but then you’d want names, and the location of the body, and I may have already said too much.)

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Twitter works similarly. Conversations are interesting to listen to, but we should take care before jumping into them with our two cents.

Sometimes I’ll invite all kinds of random input by putting a call out to “the Hivemind.” Recently I asked about Android devices, and got lots of good feedback. The only people I muted were the people who replied by telling me I should stick with the iPhone.

And that brings us to my criteria. Here are a few of the things that will likely earn a muting from me:

  • At-messaging me with unsolicited advice, especially medical advice
  • Tweeting unsolicited links at me
  • Tweeting a video link at me without telling me what it is I’d be watching
  • Answering a question by haranguing me about the context
  • Complaining about a joke I told
  • Not getting the joke, and replying with unsolicited medical advice, or a video link, or really anything
  • Complaining to me about something I retweeted
  • Trolling (sometimes this merits blocking)
  • Spamming (this usually merits blocking)
  • Tweeting at me a lot, especially in a short period of time, when we’re not actually having a conversation.

Does this sound selfish? It should, because it is selfish. But I haven’t listed the worst one yet:

  • Telling me a lame joke.

Jokes are everywhere, and while most people can find the easy punchline, it takes a lot of thought to reach beyond the low-hanging fruit and find something genuinely funny. And as I’ve said before, Twitter is the garden of low-hanging fruit.

Sometimes I’ll tell a joke on Twitter, reaching high into the tree for a good punchline, and somebody will reply at me with the low-hanging fruit that I reached past. Tweets like that correlate strongly with feeds full of underdeveloped jokes, and the desire to share them indiscriminately.

Muted. Life’s too short for me to listen to the same joke over and over.

(Note: if I’m ever guilty of these things, and that bugs you, by all means mute me. Or unfollow me. Because life’s short, and frankly, your time is worth as much to you as mine is to me.)