Trump’s Twitter Shutdown

Sometimes it’s just good to say (or tweet) nothing, and I think yesterday was a good time for the so-called President to do just that.  But I have a feeling he will be back.  How can he not?  Let’s just call it an “obsession” to be polite.  Don’t we all want to know what he thinks about everything?  Or whom he wants to attack or harangue at any given time?  Oh, for those of you who may have been otherwise preoccupied yesterday, Jim Comey, the former FBI DIrector fired by Trump, testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee about alleged lies (obstruction of justice) that Trump has made publicly and in private.  They cover a wide variety of topics, but the majority seem focused on inquiries over contacts with Russian officials.

All day Thursday, Trump had nothing to say – on his preferred medium of Twitter or anywhere else.  He let others do his talking.  A president who earlier in the week had been spoiling for a fight with Comey – and who sees his Twitter feed as both megaphone and weapon – was convinced by others to lie low according to about a dozen White House officials and other Republicans close to him.  As Representative Peter King advised: ” . . . avoid any temptation to respond to what the Democrats are saying . . . there was no reason to say anything, to get bogged down in the swamp.  Be presidential, go out and do the job, and don’t take the bait.”  Good advice from a seasoned politician wouldn’t you say?

But who knows what Trump will do?  It might sound too much like hard work.  When would he have time to golf, fly down to Mar-a-Lago?

Ray Myers

Where Everybody Knows Your Name – Maybe Online, But Not in Real Time

Before there was Facebook and Twitter (I do remember), people would actually talk to each other face-to-face.  They were not as concerned about the number of retweets or likes they received on social media (there was none).  Maybe they just wanted to have a few close friends or family members that they could always count on to be around whenever they needed them, or just wanted to enjoy each other’s company.  In our virtual world of today when can choose to be connected to our friends and family whenever, and in whatever ways we choose.  But living in the virtual world full time may actually deprive us of having a longer life.  Feeling isolated and disconnected from the real world can actually make us sick.

Recent  research suggests that being unpopular (in the real world) can be hazardous to our health.  In fact, it might even kill us.  Yet most don’t realize that there’s more than one type of popularity and social media may not supply the one that makes us feel good.  This same research also reveals that there is more than one type of popularity, and most of us may be investing in the wrong kind.  We can be popular by simply being likeable.  Likeability reflects kindness, benevolent leadership and selfless, prosocial behavior.  This same research suggests that this form of popularity offers lifelong advantages, and leads to relationships that confer the greatest health benefits.  We may be built by evolution to care deeply about popularity, but it’s up to us to chose the nature of the relationships we want with our peers.  It may also mean that we step away from Twitter once in a while.

May we all live long and prosper in real time.  🖖

Ray Myers

Messages of Love and Hate – Can Twitter Save Us?

Just two days ago, I wrote about how Twitter was being used as a online messenger of love, particularly when you can Direct Message your beloved.  Unfortunately, it seems that it also can be used as a messenger of hate, as recently witnessed in Europe. Twitter has been cited as failing to meet European standards for removing hate speech online.  The battle betweeen European policy makers and tech companies over what should be permitted online has pitted freedom of speech campaigners against those who say hate speech – in whatever form – has no place on the Internet.

Twitter has said that it had invested in new reporting procedures to allow individuals to flag problems with hate speech, and it was striving to balance people’s right to freedom of expression with the need to police material on its network.  The European Union members are particularly concerned over the increases in terrorist attacks on their soil.  After the recent attacks in Manchester, England, Theresa May, the country’s Prime Minister, called on tech companies to strengthen their monitoring of extremist speech online.  And in Germany, lawmakers are planning new legislation that could lead to fines of up to $50 million of companies do not act quickly in policing harmful material on their digital services.

Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about Europe anymore.  So-called President Donald Trump certainly doesn’t seem to care, particularly when they talk about climate change and NATO defenses.  We have friends in Russia.

Ray Myers

My Heart’s aTwitter with Your Tweets

More than any other social media, Twitter is rapidly becoming the preferred “love” media.  From finding a date to proposing marriage, this is like sailing on the digital “Love Boat,” if you are old enough to remember that TV series.  So many new technologies, to use, so little time.  Somehow Twitter has become the preferred love connection.  Don’t forget the Direct Message (DM) feature when things start to become more intimate.  Twitter doesn’t maintain statistics on how many of its users met through the site, but it does actively crowdsource and feature stories from people who have used the app to “kindle” a romance.”

Here is an unsolicited testimonial from one happy lady, now wife and mother.  “She admits to having met previous dates on MySpace and Craigslist but insists that Twitter is an ideal platform to connect with potential mates – as long as users switch from public replies to direct messaging fairly quickly.  Ultimately, asking someone out on Twitter, there is still that fear of rejection that exists.  But it’s super possible.  It all goes down in the DMs.”

Okay, all you lonely hearts out there.  Brush up on your DM skills to give Cupid a hand!

Ray Myers

Don’t Google It, Strawman – Use Your Brain

Outsourcing knowledge to Google keeps you away from learning things the right way.  Don’t take my word for it.  Psychological researchers have been studying the effects on internet dependence on the human learning process.  Take your ability to remember, or learn things the right way so that you can recall them at will.  And on a personal note, this seems to get harder as you get older.  So if you want to stay younger mentally, using Google may be a handy tool, but still keep using your own mental faculties if you want to have people think you really know what you are talking about.  How old is Donald Trump?  Seventy?  He seems to like Twitter better than Google, but he still might like to use it if he wants to fact-check something.  I just don’t think he worries about those bothersome facts that much.  He does use the TV to watch FOX news, right?

“Using knowledge in the head is also self-sustaining, whereas using knowledge from the internet is not.  Every time you retrieve information from memory, it becomes a bit easier to find it the next time.  That’s why students studying for a test actually remember more if they quiz themselves than if they study as they typically do, by rereading their textbook or notes.  That parades the right ideas before the mind, but it doesn’t make them stick in the same way, you won’t learn your way around a city if you always use your GPS, but you will if you work to remember the route you took last time (NY Times, 5/21/17).

“But why do I worry about all this?  And why does Donald Trump come creeping back into my mind.  Maybe it is the fact that he is not the “fake President.”

Ray Myers






How About a Coffee Break – Skip the Wi-Fi, Skip Trump

Now why would you want to make your coffeee shop wi-fi free?  It may seem a bit nostalgic, but some cafe owners would like to bring back the art of the conversation in their shops.  What a concept!  You can actually sit at a table and converse with friends, colleagues, or perhaps even strangers, as you sip your coffee and discuss all the latest news and/or gossip.  Just think, you can actually create your own Trump-free spaces where you can choose NOT to hear or see all the breaking news about his latest tweets and antics.  I know that keeping up with him can be addictive, and unfortunately, he loves to keep you hooked.

Back to the coffee shop.  Without wi-fi, these shops may soon become our oasis in the desert of social networking and instant communication on any topic at any time.  Some shop owners do not see the wi-fi restriction as revolutionary but as a response to society’s deep immersion into all things digital that leads people to seldom communicate face to face.  To promote conviviality, some shops have adopted a no wi-fi policy and gone a step further: doing away with some comfy furniture and narrowing counters to make them less accommodating for laptops.

So maybe we could all use a little more face time (not FaceTime) to actually talk about what is happening in this age of Trump.  He may be addicted to always being in the news, but we should not be addicted to him.   He is Not Making America Great Again.

Ray Myers

“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” – Twitter President Fires FBI Director Comey

Thank you , Yogi Berra.  I find these words very comforting in the age of Trump.  It’s only been a little over a hundred days of his tenure in the White House, but who’s counting (I am!)?  So-called President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey yesterday, based on the recommendations of his so-called Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General.  It seems like he is still fuming about how he actually lost the popular vote in last year’s election, tweeting last week that “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”  

Trump sent Comey a very short, self-serving letter which could also be interpreted as a awkward attempt to pardon himself from any transgressions that he may have committed.  Here it is: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”  Oh yes, Trump did add that he wished him the best in his future endeavors. 

So, what’s next?  Maybe we will have a return to days of Watergate-like scandals and true investigative reporting by “real news” journalists.  

Ray Myers

Tech Tackles Fake News

What’s all this about fake news? (remember Rosenne Rosanadana, TV’s Saturday Night Live).  I just read the other day that computer experts are using sophisticated algorithms and online data to spot misinformation.  So now it seems that we have “machine learning” tools that use artificial intelligence to combat fake news.  A growing number of technology experts worldwide are now harnessing their skills to tackle misinformation online.  Calls for combating fake news have focused on some of the biggest online players, including American giants like Facebook and Google.  Why did we have to wait for this call until after a U.S. Presidential election?  Does fake news really have more readers than real news?

I am not really a conspiracy theorist, and maybe the technology and needed algorithms were not fully developed in time for last year’s election, but perhaps it’s just another example of “timing being everything.”  Technology still seems to hold a revered place as our best hope for discerning fact from fiction.  But many Europeans are not so optimistic.  With fake news already swirling around their forthcoming elections, analysts also worry that technology on its on may not be enough to combat the threat.  

Remember the old adage, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.”  I guess it’s time to rethink that old saw, or maybe we should literally start reading (and listening) again with a more critical perspective.  We must never think that technology can do all this for us.

Ray Myers

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

With acknowledgement to Rene Descartes, a seventeenth century French philosopher, I am borrowing this title phrasing from one of his original works entitled The Principles of Philosophy.  In Latin you may say, “cogito ergo sum,” but not many people speak Latin any more.  In English, it means “I think, therefore I am.”  But strangely enough, we now have a “so-called President” in the United States who likes to “Tweet” (not “think”) both day and night, sharing his pithy thoughts with anyone whom may be interested, or just plain curious?  So it appears that he is not really thinking too much about how accurate his tweets may be, but more about how frequently, and most recently, how angry they can be.  

“It must be partly a matter of bad timing.  Mr. Trump came along just as the mainstream media, especially newspapers, were trying to come to terms with the Internet.  Hoary concepts like “objectivity” and “balance” were giving way.  This was a good thing, believe it or not.  Reporters no longer had to pretend that after spending weeks or months on a story, they had emerged with no opinion about it.   The word ‘I’ could now be used to refer to oneself, rather than ‘a reporter.’   Mr. Trump, already dislikable, became the first test case of the new mindset (Kingsley, NY Times, 4/30).”

“With his use of Twitter as a sort of brain dump, exposing his thinking to the world at all hours of the day and night, he has made social media almost a part of our constitutional system (Kingsley).”

Ray Myers

P.S.  Thanks for all the birthday wishes over the weekend.

Corralling the Social Media Market

Do you ever think of social media as a business that has to be regulated in order to ensure fair competition in this marketing space.  In the period of ten years we have gone from a time when the American marketplace was dominated by  companies such as Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Microsoft, Citigroup and Bank of America to a new era of technology companies replacing them in the size of their market caps.  Microsoft remains in the middle of this group at #3, but is now joined by its largest tech competitors: Apple (1), Alphabet (2, Google parent company), Amazon (4), and Facebook (5).    We may eventually have to regulate these tech giants if they are determined to truly be monopolies that limit competition by smaller tech businesses in this space.

“We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.  It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans.  While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent.”   So most Americans can now “proudly” say that they only know what they see on their computer screens (of varying sizes).  Maybe this is really how all those fake news stories began?

Fewer newspaper readers, but more “screen” readers.  Let’s face it, our social media markets are like the Wild West of the Digital Age.  Maybe we do need a few Marshall Dillons to protect all of us law-abiding citizens (anyone remember Gunsmoke?).

Ray Myers


Presidential Multi-tasking and Making Choices

I guess job interviews are not what they used to be.  In the age of Trump, it seems that potential employers are more preoccupied with checking news, “important messages,” tweeting, etc., than really focusing on job candidates who are interested in making a favorable impression.  Or maybe it really works both ways?   Do you really want to work for someone who is too preoccupied with their own online messaging than finding out more about candidates who might be selected as Cabinet appointees in his administration.  Let’s just say I think that we now have a “so-called President” who is more interested in letting us know all about his opinions on everything than really focusing on the politics of governing.  

My humble political advice is that not everyone really cares what “Trump thinks” about everything.  Welcome to Washington!  Everyone wants to make a name for themselves, or even a bigger name of they are a President.  But our current White House occupant obviously feels that what he has to say (or tweet) is the most important of all.  And he feels it can all be said in 140 characters or less.  What an absurd and simplistic notion – “I tweet, therefore I am.”  Can someone please call a halt to this obsessive behavior before we fall into some catastrophic conflict with another world “tweeter.”
Please don’t get me wrong.  I am really a fan of social media, but it must be used responsibly, as we all have probably been told many times over our lifetimes about many things.  Even if you live in the White House (when you are not in Mar-a-Lago) 

Ray Myers



Social Media as an Addiction

I am not really talking about “so-called” President Trump here, but his use of Twitter seems to come close to this type of diagnosis.  Many prominent social psychologists are studying this digital phenomenon.  I’ll let them decide what advice is best for the current resident of the White House.  Adam Alter, author of “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” warns that many of us – youngsters, teenagers, adults – are addicted to modern digital products.  

“The technology is designed to hook us that way.  Email is bottomless.  Social media platforms are endless.  Twitter?  The feed never really ends.  You could sit there 24 hours a day and  you’ll never get to the end.  And so you come back for more and more . . . There should be times of the day where it looks like the 1950s or where you are sitting in a room and you can’t tell what era you are in.  You shouldn’t always be looking at screens.”  And now so many devices are portable that you literally have to put them out of reach if you want some “down time.”

It’s even getting harder now to walk down the street without having to avoid someone with a digital device in hand.  It’s even more dangerous on the highways where your fellow drivers’ eyes are focused on their digital screens and not the road!

Ray Myers

Tech and Trump Collide!

Figuratively speaking that is.  But this all about how technology has expanded as an industry that has a global reach.  Not only in terms of the powers of the Internet, but its effect on humanity around the world.  Many different races and people from all corners of the globe can now benefit and contribute to its continuing growth and reach.  Silicon Valley has brought some of the most talented tech “workers” from around the world into the U.S.  We are talking about companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft.  Trump’s proposed immigration ban could impair the ability of top U.S. companies to recruit and retain such talent in order to better compete globally.

In a company-wide email, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, stated his opposition very clearly, particularly in terms of its impact on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.  “I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.  I share your concerns.  It is not a policy we support.”  In open letters and other public statements during the Presidential campaign, tech executives and workers also objected to Trump’s anti-Muslim statements, and some signed onto a commitment not to help design his proposed Muslim registry.

Well, it’s the start of another work week at the White House.  Although it’s only the second one, it already seems like a long time from the inauguration.  I’m still waiting for the part where we become “great again!”

Ray Myers


Twitter as Part of the Presidential Digital Transition

As part of the “digital transition” plan laid out by the Obama White House shortly before the election, the incoming administration begins with a clean slate.  Well, at least that’s the plan, but with Mr. Trump one really doesn’t know for sure?  This may be too confining for our new “head (hair?) of State.”  But as a public service I would like to report on what the normal procedures are, and, I guess, we can all wait and see.

Both of the Obamas have their own Twitter accounts, @BarackObama, and @MichelleObama, which are run by staff at Organizing for Action, a nonprofit advocacy group.  They’ll host future tweets from these accounts, since the @POTUS44 and @FLOTUS44 are basically just archives.  Of course, Trump has his own Twitter handle – @RealDonaldTrump – which has several million more followers than @POTUS (maybe that’s why he won?).  Trump recently expressed a preference for keeping his Twitter presence on his personal account, but like many things with the Trump administration, we’re going to have to wait and see what actually happens.

But do we really have to wait and see?  As with most of the actions of this current White House resident so far, he will do whatever he wants with no one to stop him.  No one will the tell the “Emperor that he has no clothes.”

Ray Myers

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Tech Companies’ Boardrooms

My last post before the holidays in December talked about breaking the “glass ceiling” at the Vatican. One very talented woman, Barbara Jatta, was able to do that as the first woman to lead the Office of Vatican Museums in Rome. So even as male dominance gives way to gender equality in the administration of the Roman Catholic Church’s activities, California’s Silicon Valley is now recognizing that they also have to close the diversity gap in their governing Boards. Let’s face it, women, at least in the U.S., are probably the most active users of technology in their daily lives (may not be scientifically proven, but try to take away the digital tools that women use everyday). Just think of the effects of online shopping that have made many shopping malls “ghost towns” since the arrival of anytime, anywhere shopping on your computer or in the palm of you hand.

Why not invite more women into these tech company boardrooms? While Twitter and other tech companies have taken steps to add more women to their boards, the tech industry still lacks others in gender diversity. Among Silicon Valley’s 150 largest companies, only 15 percent of board seats were filled by women in 2016, compared with 21 percent for the companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index, according to the research firm Equilat. Boardrooms are a particular focus because they are power centers that can help spur broader changes. And more positive change, I believe, can probably be more enhanced with more women having a seats at the tech board room tables.

Likewise, more women on the governing bodies of the Roman Catholic Church will more likely bring more positive changes in the Church’s policies around the world. I guess you can also pray that progress will continue in these tech boardroom practices, but putting talented women in more powerful tech company positions sounds like a good business practice to me. I think they are ready!

Ray Myers

Terrorist Propaganda and the Open Internet

Is it really all about the message, or the role of the messenger?  I was always told to not believe everything I read in the newspaper or saw or heard on TV and radio (I am not sure why – and of course this was all before the dawn of the Internet).  So what has happened to dull our senses to be able to discern what is obviously false and what is true.  Maybe it’s so much easier now to choose what you want to believe and ignore that which might make you change your mind?  There are just so many information “sources”to choose from.   And I guess we have the luxury and liberty to select whatever we want to believe.  You may even like your news completely fabricated and prefer that to “real reporting.”  See my blog of 11/23: “All the News, All Fake, All the Time!”

Now we have some of our top technology companies volunteering to do some censoring for us.  They have formed a coalition to try and save us from terrorist propaganda and recruitment.  Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft announced earlier this week that they have teamed up to fight the spread of terrorist content over the web by sharing technology and information to reduce the flow of terrorist propaganda across their services.  And they are also welcoming any other tech company to join them in this endeavor.  But not everyone is so keen on sharing their secret encryption “sauce.”  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple among them.  Remember his refusal to a FBI request after the San Bernadino attacks in 2015.  The FBI then hired some hackers to access the iPhone used by one of the attackers.

I am afraid that this fight over open access to the Internet and freedom of speech is going to get more sinister.  We in the U.S. have been relatively immune to governmental interference at any level, but some of our newly elected political leaders may feel less constrained.

Ray Myers

I’ll Drink to That

So what’s missing in political discourse in the early twenty-first century?  Some say it’s the corner saloon where patrons could freely debate (and drink, with moderation of course), and hopefully form well-reasoned political opinions about most everything.  If the historians are right, this is how our fore-fathers, probably not mothers, were able to form political identities and voting blocs.  What a simpler time it was, and I am not suggesting that Americans were more politically astute back then, but let’s just reminisce a bit and look at where we are now.

Jon Grinspan writes: “Beinging back the saloon will not solve America’s problems.  And there are, of course, major substance abuse concerns today.  But the point of the saloon was never the lager.  It was the shared institution.  Today it often feels as if the only shared spaces are big-box checkout lines and fast-food parking lots.  What we need, more than tweets or memes, is the kind of civic life that transpires when men and women gather face to face and, as a fan of old saloons put it, ‘political matters ebb and flow as froth on the beer’.”

Technology obviously plays a bigger role today, and we all get to choose what news stories we want to find, believe, or just make up (see blog of November 23).  And contrary to the title of this block, I don’t really think drinking will help us make better political choices .

Ray Myers

Twitter King of Insults is Now President of the United States

Ain’t democracy great?  You too can become President of the United States.  Just get yourself a Twitter account and start hurling insults at whomever you like, and if you are running for President, just direct most of them at your opponents and see what happens.  If you saw my Twitter/blog post of October 26th, you may remember my commentary on the two pages of the “A” section of The NY Times that was devoted to cataloging some of Mr. Trump’s insults/lies directed at political opponents.  Of course, Hillary was his primary target, almost exclusively during the last two months of the campaign.  Why spend all that money on political campaigning?   Twitter can help you “reach out” to all of your eager followers.  Tech has made it so.

Is this what technology is all about?   The ability to say anything you want in 140 characters, and not worry about the accuracy or veracity of what you say.  Someone else can do that if they want, but maybe that is the most dangerous part of all.  Why take the time?  Tell your followers what they want to hear, and make it quick.  And the more you tweet, the more I want to hear.  I also think it has a very addictive appeal.  They can take a glance at their mobile devices, and get a quick fix of pithy put-downs of any opposing view or person.  In this case, go on the attack against your political rival who is trying to explain her future plans and priorities as President of the United States in a more comprehensive (traditional) way.

May we never see a campaign like this again.  But maybe it’s all about free speech, but I don’t think so.  We all have a reponsibilty to be truthful in whatever communication mode we choose.  And that includes messages of 140 characters on you Twitters account.

Ray Myers




The President of Digital Content, and Hope for Hillary

President Obama, in fact, will be leaving office with far more digital content to archive than any previous president.  Not very surprising, you might say, considering the years of his presidency and the rise of social media during his term.   He will have attracted 11.1 million Twitter followers, not to mention the numbers who follow him on Facebook and Instagram.  Obama’s tweets will move over to a new handle, @POTUS44, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.  Maybe the Archives and Records Administration could be a helpful agency to Hillary Clinton in maintaining a repository of all her digital communications (on both government and personal servers) during her term as Secretary of State.   Or at least I think that is all that the FBI is really interested in?

Just archive them and then make them all available whenever she finishes any future government assignment she may have, like President of the United States?  Okay, if she doesn’t win, I guess it’s all fair game, but how much time does Congress or any other “aggrieved party” want to spend on all this mess.  Anthony Weiner’s sextexting emails included.  Really?  Unfortunately, we don’t have any Donald Trump sexual harassment activities on videotape, but we certainly have enough testimony from women who have been harassed by him.  Let’s face it.  If you have been a star on reality TV, you must be now qualified to be President.

Please!  Let’s stop the madness before it is too late.  Think about your own and your children’s future.  Obama has brought us back from a financial disaster that he inherited in 2008.  I think he truly made America a better country in more ways than economically.  Don’t turn back the clock on this progress.  It’s not really all about Twitter and social media, but Obama used it to unite us, not divide us.

Ray Myers