And Then Hemingway Punched Me In The Mouth

groundhog_day.jpgFrom my own point of view, I continually say lines from movies, expecting people to understand their applicability to the current context, but given that I often find myself looking at a lot of confused, blank stares when I say these things without explanation.  Consequently, I show the image on the right as context.  It’s a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  In this scene, Bill Murray’s character is going to kill himself for the umpteenth zillion first time by driving a truck off the cliff of a quarry.  As you can see, the groundhog is actually driving the car as the police are chasing them at high speed.  The line in question – i.e the line I would say which would then draw blank stares – is what Bill Murray’s character is saying to the groundhog at this precise moment in the scene:

“Don’t drive angry!  You should never drive when you’re angry”

And that’s pretty much what I would say about tweeting when you’re angry: don’t do it.

I’m sure that’s self evident to the more advanced individuals in the
world (you know who you are).  But sometimes us less fortunately
endowed with wisdom need some reminding of such things (you probably
don’t know who you are, but that’s probably part of the problem).

In any event, the problem with the 21st century’s super efficient
social networking software is that that they really are super
efficient.  Within milliseconds of tweeting angry, not only did I
receive tons of replies, but I also saw multiple retweets.  And so not
only had I spread my perhaps ill advised tweet (really, if you haven’t
seen it, it was not horrible, just perhaps ill advised) amongst my own
connections, I found it amplified on some super connected networks that
some of those in my own networks maintain like large herds of psychic
cattle.  Amplified beyond belief.

And so I quickly found myself deluged with dozens and dozens of emails inquiring, offering and wondering.  Amazing.

Now, the good news about all this is that I found out that I have a lot
of very good friends out there who care a lot about what happens to
me.  I found out I have even more good acquaintances and business
associates who also care about what happens to me.  And people who I
haven’t really even met before – friends of friends and people I just
know through email or remote collaboration on various projects – who
also care about what happens to me.  And people who have commercial
interest in what happens to me.

So, that’s all great.  Overwhelming, really.  And that’s part of the
problem.  See, back in the last century – heck, back at the beginning of this century – it would have taken at least a week for such information to make the rounds.  And before such things as super efficient social networking software, probably very few people would have heard me say something like that anyway.

Consequently, the amplification and feedback is also a bit hard to deal with.  When you are in a mood and doing something that may or may not turn out to be rash, you probably don’t want to have a super efficient social networking infrastructure laying around like a nuclear bomb with a hair trigger.  It’s just f’ing dangerous.

Now, granted I’m no Julia Allison, Dave Winer, or “Bob” forbid Robert Scoble.  But all of this has been a very interesting lesson to me on the two edged sword that this century’s software technology has casually made available.  All I can say is thank “Bob” there aren’t incriminating pictures involved.

Oh, and the title to this post?  It’s another one of those lines that I say every once and a while which garner blank stares from those around me.  It’s a line from my favorite Woody Allen bit, The Lost Generation:

I mentioned before that I was in Europe. It’s not the first time that I
was in Europe, I was in Europe many years ago with Ernest Hemingway.
Hemingway had just written his first novel, and Gertrude Stein and I
read it, and we said that is was a good novel, but not a great one, and
that it needed some work, but it could be a fine book. And we laughed
over it. Hemingway punched me in the mouth.

That winter Picasso lived on the Rue d’Barque, and he had just painted
a picture of a naked dental hygenist in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
Gertrude Stein said it was a good picture, but not a great one, and I
said it could be a fine picture. We laughed over it and Hemingway
punched me in the mouth.

Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald came home from their wild
new years eve party. It was April. Scott had just written Great
and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said it was a good book, but
there was no need to have written it, ’cause Charles Dickens had
written it. We laughed over it, and Hemingway punched me in the mouth.

That winter we went to Spain to see Manolete fight, and he was…
looked to be eighteen, and Gertrude Stein said no, he was nineteen, but
that he only looked eighteen, and I said sometimes a boy of eighteen
will look nineteen, whereas other times a nineteen year old can easily
look eighteen. That’s the way it is with a true Spaniard. We laughed
over that and Gertrude Stein punched me in the mouth.

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