An internet survival guide in the age of Twitter, bot and paid for.
Now that Twitter has been closing down accounts held by conservatives, I think I am safe. I am a devoted follower of Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen DeGeneres, Bernie Sanders, several Lakers, LeBron James, and many others whose lives I thought I do not care about. First some words about some of these legends of whom I am one of their millions of followers on Twitter.
A fraud, a jerk, and a sell-out. I remember “The Man Show.” Juggy Dance Squad. “Girls on Trampolines.” Blackface make-up imitating NBA star Karl Malone. As an Orthodox rabbi, I remember being so deeply offended by the crudeness, the coarseness, the objectification of women as nothing but sex objects. One episode was enough to know what I would be missing thenceforth. Kimmel was no liberal. He was no feminist. Quite an evolution from the nice Catholic altar boy he had been as a child. And then he got a late-night TV talk show — and for years he still was no liberal. Remember the time he “joked” that, if the Detroit Pistons won the NBA title, the locals would burn half the city down? Guess whom that angered. Or when he infuriated Chinese Americans so badly that they marched against him in San Francisco and demanded he be taken off the air? But then the landscape of commercial late-night talk changed. And with a turn to political correctness, he even soon could be hosting Emmy and Oscar award nights.
From the era of Johnny Carson and Pat Sajak and “Hostages in Iran — Day 14,367, presented by and starring Ted Koppel” American late night moved to Jay Leno and David Letterman and whatever. They were talk shows with limited political agendas, focusing on politically balanced opening comedy monologues followed by an hour of small talk and chit-chat with celebrities who either were hawking their latest movie or TV show or book or music album. Letterman helped the audience know when he was finishing a joke because he would be the first one to laugh at it. Leno always was genuinely funny, and you felt a good nature within him except when he unnecessarily found humor in making fun of senior citizens.
And then came the new late-night generation. Conan O’Brien seemed to get a tough break. Chelsea Handler came on the scene, holding some potential until we learned that she is truly crazy, truly a bigot — and a public liar. All of commercial television lives and dies by advertising dollars, and advertising dollars are set by ratings that document the number of viewers. Conservative viewers during the Age of Obama-Hillary-Kerry-Pelosi were not in a laughing mood and gravitated to Fox News at night. Ideological liberals (i.e., backwards “progressives”) moved to CNN. Leftist crazies moved to MSNBC. And those who found news discussions too hard to understand moved to Comedy Central, where Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz (“Call me Jon Stewart so I don’t have to embarrass all the Jews in the world”) reported to them the nightly fake news. It is remarkable to consider how many of that younger generation actually got and still get their news from Comedy Central.
As Comedy Central started to creak, with Leibowitz moving in one direction, his equally radical-leftist sidekick Stephen Colbert moved to CBS to take over late night when Letterman went to pasture. With conservatives completely having abandoned late night for second viewings of O’Reilly and Sean Hannity — and Greg Gutfeld’s “Red Eye” on the West Coast — the fight to attract ratings from the drastically reduced available viewership for commercial late night saw a change in the tenor from the Jack Paar-Steve Allen-Johnny Carson family-viewing model. Colbert instead chose coarse, obscene — and he was rewarded with his Comedy Central followers and others of that ilk . . . and with being invited to host Awards nights. Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel initially battled each other amicably by sticking with decency and reasonable humor. And then Kimmel intuited that better ratings lay by careening sharply left and aiming for those leaning towards Colbert but preferring less obscenity and anger. That is where Kimmel has landed. Now he is a supporter of Obamacare and attacks President Trump. As the patriarch of the Bluth family would say on the greatest comedy series of all time — “Arrested Development” — “There’s money in the banana stand.” And Kimmel has joined the monkeys.
Not that funny. Never was. Never will be. But if you are politically correct, you dare not say that she is not that funny. Instead, you make her host of Academy Awards night, Grammy Awards, Daytime Emmys. And Obama gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. End of story.
Great Brooklyn accent. A Marxist socialist who would have been shot to death by Stalin after Uncle Joe was done with Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and that group. Instead got to be a Marxist in America, where he could rail against capitalism while buying and living in at least three houses, one of them a $600,000 summer home. A non-Democrat who ran for President in his mid-70s as a Democrat and almost beat Hillary.
Except for the first three words and last three words of the previous paragraph, there is little else positive to say about him. Nor much negative. Until he ran for President, few knew he was there.
When I was a boy and teen, I followed the New York Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers, and Knicks. Once I started college and got a life, I had to start cutting back. I stopped following basketball. I never followed the Lakers. Later when I moved to Southern California, I knew that the Lakers had some guy who cavorted with many, many women and ended up getting diagnosed HIV positive, made a big announcement about it in 1991, had half the city crying, and now, twenty-six years later, is a multi-millionaire part-owner of the L.A. Dodgers. And then the Lakers had some other guy who either raped a woman in his Colorado hotel room (sez she) or it wasn’t rape but a few minutes of love (sez he), and he ended up settling the lady’s lawsuit and having to buy his wife on whom he had cheated a compensatory diamond ring that cost more than the aggregate lifetime incomes of half the citizens of Los Angeles. That is what I know about the Lakers. Also that there was a decent enough guy named Jerry West who was very good even though he only was two inches taller than six feet, and there was some other player they had named “Metta World Peace” — legally changed from “Ron Artest” — who once started the biggest bloody fisticuffs riot in NBA history by blind-siding and slapping an opponent across the back of his head with a cheap shot and later rushing into the spectator stands, on another occasion destroyed a television camera at Madison Square Garden, and another time getting arrested and sentenced to jail for domestic violence. Metta World Peace.
He appeared at a Hillary rally in Ohio just before the 2016 Presidential election, effectively helping seal the deal for Donald Trump to carry the state. Inasmuch as he knows how to bounce a ball, and to throw it in the air at just the correct arch so that it goes through a hoop with netting on its way down, he fancies himself a political commentator and intellectual. As further proof of his political insights and keenness of mind, he has been an official spokesperson for a company that sells donuts, another that sells cheeseburgers, and others that sell sneakers, insurance, and the like. His claim to fame is that he dribbles.
Why I Am a Devoted Follower of All These Giants of Our Time
A few weeks ago I read a news item about the proliferation of “bots” as a commercially crooked, fraudulent, deceitful way by which celebrities try to fool the public into believing that millions of Americans passionately follow them on Facebook, on Twitter, and on other social media. If a celebrity has fewer “followers” than someone who has absolutely no reason to be famous, no discernible genius nor other socially valuable aspect, that reveals the celebrity’s social inconsequence. As a result, there apparently are entrepreneurs who create millions of fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere — and then get paid by the insecure celebrities or their publicity agents to set those fake accounts — “bots” — as “followers” of the celebrity. In other words, the celebrities pay for “Followers.” They pay fraudulent entrepreneurs to fabricate followers for them.
Think of your own name and identity. Now look in the mirror: how many of you are there? Perhaps one. (If two, either count calories or carbograms more carefully, or get a new mirror.) Meanwhile, let’s say there are ten accounts on Twitter with your name and identity — and all of them are set to follow someone you hate or never heard of. Guess what? Without you even knowing it, that person whom you hate or never heard of is going around bragging that he or she or it has ten more “followers” on Twitter than would be the case if your fraudulent “bots” did not exist, and if the celebrity had not paid for it. In all, hundreds of thousands — even millions — of Twitter “followers” do not even exist. It all is fake. It all is a lie. And the celebrities and their agents pay for the fake “Followers.”
Out of curiosity after reading the piece, I went onto Twitter. I personally do not tweet. I have serious reasons for avoiding Twitter. My law students do not care about my views about politics and religion. My synagogue members do not care about my interpretations or discussions of the civil laws of remedies, contracts, civil procedure, and advanced torts. My law clients do not even want to imagine that I do or think anything all day and night except worry about their legal issues. So I stay out of Twitter.
But — oh, what joy! Sure enough, there I am on Twitter: Dov Fischer, with my casual Hebrew rabbinic title, and the number of commandments that appear in the Torah by the Word of G-d and the hand of Moses. Apparently I have 4 Followers — none of whom I remotely have heard of, nor have even the remotest connection to my congregation, my Judaism, my law practice, my more-than-1,500 law students whom I have taught these past 14 years, my twenty-six years of published political and social commentary, nor my beloved New York Yankees and Mets. “Bots” following a “Bot”?
And — better still! — I am “Following” 41 people including Zedd (Who the heck is he? Is it a he?), Jimmy Kimmel, Tim Cook, Kobe Bryant (the one from the Colorado hotel), Ellen DeGeneres (Nobel laureate Obama’s Medal of Freedom winner), Bernie Sanders, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (He’s still alive?), Elon Musk, SpaceX, Disneyland (Who can afford it? $600 to stand on line seven hours to go on a ride?), and just-plain Disney. Are these people or their publicity agents so insecure and desperate for attention that they actually need to pay someone to create a false Twitter account just to add a “follower”? And to buy millions more?
Are you as passionate a follower of the Rich and Pseudo-Famous as I am — or, more accurately: as my fraudulently created “bot” is? Go and take a look. Look yourself up. See whom you “follow”!
Photos: Erik Drost/Flickr-Creative Commons; Wikimedia Commons