Twitter is a Hellsite. A noisy, messy Hellsite where your attention is pulled a million different directions at once, with bits and bytes of info finding a sublet in your mind with each Tweet you read and engage with.

Let’s get a critique of Twitter out of the way. I will integrate this critique into later essay(s) on modes of Media engagement by the Viewer. Twitter is a Hellsite by the very structure you use to communicate through it (280 Characters at a time, although we used to only be able to use 140). The thoughts are brief, the notions presented pining for qualification and inspection, but mostly standing on their own as THE thought.

It does have a grace in allowing for further conversation, which, depending on the initial Tweet, can go any number of directions. But it is usually beholden to the framing of that initial Tweet unless there is a purposeful effort by another Twitter Engager.

But that grace is undone by what we are looking for in the conversation itself. Often we’ll talk past one another in service of making our own point about how we size up the Tweet and the person we believe created that Tweet.

That get’s us to Corey Richardson and Yours Truly, who had an exchange over Twitter that really resonated with me on the issues with Twitter and also the conflation of emotions from formative experiences.

The Original Tweet:

And Chaser:

I have judgments about Corey Richardson. Judgments that only serve to validate the place I’ve arrived at and the mode of thinking I engage in to make sense of things. These judgments are my own and I really don’t expect anyone to share them, out of hand, with me. Nor do I think anyone should force my judgment upon him. Judgments like this:

But I also have critiques.

First, let’s start with how I know Corey. I don’t! That is important to understand how I qualify ‘knowing’ Corey though. I am aware of who he is by virtue of his popularity on Twitter, folks who retweet him, and the semi-organic spread of his thoughts through the Hellsite by people I follow.

I am unaware of experience, previous thoughts that build a composite Truth to who Corey is and where he’s coming from, both in self and social perception. There is a concept I am working on called ‘Trust Identity’ and yes, once again, I did work in IT, so I borrowed the starting point of that thought there. The question of “How do I know you and you are who you say you are?”

Knowing what I do know about Corey, which isn’t much at all, I treat the statement as a blind statement made by no one in particular but as a sentiment felt by some. We can measure that ‘some’ by Retweet and Likes but we don’t know the intent and can’t know the intent of the Retweet and Like givers. It’s not a sign of Truthful Resonance in and of itself but…it didn’t just get treated as Corey’s Sole Personal Affectation and Affection.

What do I do to qualify whether this is Corey’s feeling discretely or reading the temperature on how formative Pizza Hut was to the very existence and experience of Gen-Xers youth. It’s already up there above — I render a judgment to force a response of the essentialized implications of the statement or statements.

“Gen-Xers are in Mourning over Pizza Hut. I am a Gen-Xer. The existence of this thing I hold dear should mean something to you because of all the cultural experiences you’ve enjoyed up to this point are because of me and MY generation. And the ones before.”

That is how I broke down the Original Tweet and Chaser in interpretation. Again, I don’t know Corey but by the very words he uses, subjects he focuses on, the way he presents his relationship to the subject and subsequent dialogue on the subject.

And the wild thing is I don’t find any disagreement with him in that interpretation. Yeah, Gen-Xers probably have more feelings over this than others. I whole heartedly agree that previous cultural experiences cultivate and create the next ones (Why I’m writing to some extent).

So why did I land on the jab of ‘There’s that Gen-Xer Vanity?’ Well, to take the entire conversation down a peg because I operate at my best in the muck. I also did it to create a rebuttal point and to draw attention. Yeah, I’m still getting around to figuring out a better method. But most subtly it was an attempt to undermine the essentialization of Gen-Xers itself by burdening them with a negative one, as perceived from an out-group member.

I also added two more jabs where I purposefully drove to two essentialized lampoons of the conversation so far:

The intent of the first : “Is this what you want the takeaway to be? Walk with me back from this”

The intent of the second: “If Pizza Hut is the foundational part of your childhood, let me tell you what parts of Pizza Hut are part of my childhood to illustrate the gap between us here”

No takers.

But there was a response to my vanity quip and my response to that which Corey then Retweeted with the Revelation of why it is important to him:

Let me cop to something before I get to the meat of what this essay confronts. I will cop to being a Vain Millennial but reconcile that by having experiential growth with them (Columbine, 9/11, Iraq War, Obama Elected, Ferguson, and all the Consumerist and Consumption Zeitgeists inbetween). I heavily indulge in the dialogue of Cohort Wars because there is the sensation of living in other people’s Shadows who don’t even know they cast one. Or shout “Enjoy the sumptuous fucking shade, ingrate” if they are aware of it. Hence the tingling sensation of Vanity laced in such statements. Which isn’t just a cohort issue across Age but also between in-groups and out-groups per how you define them.

So here’s the meal you’ve just digested being transported to your brain and converted to contemplation:

Corey puts my unsympathetic ass on blast for undermining the Venue where he had a formative, life changing experience. To him, Pizza Hut isn’t just a 3rd rate national chain (my claim), that bound itself to books (via reading program), that won a contract to deliver pizza to my middle school, daily. It is a place where he received life changing and short-term arresting information.

The sights, the smells, the sounds, all enhanced by the close-family conversation between his Grandpa and himself, composed of the information in that dialogue. Information that imparts an irrevocable change to Corey’s modes of living forever. One that, to this day, sticks with him to the point that it is a Finishing Move to the conversation.

Pizza Hut means something to him in a way that is so deeply personal and moving. So deeply personal that it seems it would be hard to dissociate those feelings of death and irrevocable change from the literal financial death of the chain. And in itself presents a death of the memory of his Grandpa and that integral conversation. The Venue is gone.

But is that what Corey did from the get-go? Hard nope. What Corey did was the following:

He starts by laundering his personal attachment to a speculative general affinity held by those in his cohort. I can’t qualify whether this is conscious or subconscious on my end and Twitter doesn’t allow me the structure to find out. But it’s there. And in dramatic fashion. “RIP Gen-X’s Collective Childhood”

Since I can’t divine intent to frame it this way (and isn’t given away until the Finishing Move), I kind of ignore that and work through it on it’s own terms as a very real point of Gen-X mourning. At which point, all the personal experiences and interactions that contribute towards that cohort affinity could be addressed…supposedly. They aren’t ever, unless purposefully or rudely brought to the front! His is a semi-informed leap of faith into the dark of ‘hey folks in my cohort, you feel about this how I feel about this? A loss of childhood?’

The semi-informed leap of faith into the dark for empathy and validation is the very damn thing we do every single day. In tiny ways from telling a joke to get a laugh , to reaching your arms out for a hug for comfort, to the small talk we engage when traipsing into the existence of another person we don’t know but acknowledge as present. To Tweeting about shit you think about on the Hellsite, even? Yeah, I think so.

Corey has a very specific attachment to Pizza Hut, now that I understand it from his angle.

This is where a moment of contemplation, at least to render a sentiment that is perhaps a normative Truth to living, could be useful. To make this rumination really about Corey and not an anticipated validation of the personal sentiments surrounding the bankruptcy of a chain, there is an alternative way to do it. And yes, this is haughty ass shit coming from an unemployed, uneducated dude on his couch who is enraptured by a conversation from August of 2019 because of the specific way it played out but…

“Sad to see an integral part of my childhood go under like this. Anyone else feeling me on this? What do you remember about The Hut?”

Given that he demanded some kind of cohort appreciation for himself with Pizza Hut’s existence factoring into that appreciation not that much later, I don’t know if Corey engages in that kind of contemplation or second guesses declarative cohort affinity and affirmation statements.

Finishing Move:

The command for ‘reverence’, ‘respect’, ‘importance’ of past is first, a search for affirmation of carrying those values to help affirm and validate the second — a plea for affirmation upon the exact item in discussion having value. The Hut in Corey’s case, but any Cultural or Consumerist experience and conversation we engage in.

Fatality:

Corey Richardson is operating in the mode of Basic, which is both my Judgment(grain of salt or 1 lb of Rock Salt, your choice) and a reflection of someone who engages in a normative mode of living and life. A mode that doesn’t register with people who are searching for another conversation and use confrontational tactics to get the conversation there.

In inter-cohort discussions and conversation: Does this perhaps explain the mode of Consumerist American Society where seemingly every cohort member finds themselves of some Objective Importance that nobody who came before or arrived after seems to ‘get’ or ‘appreciate’ or ‘venerate’. Is American Society forever stuck in a never ending run of ‘Footloose’ where the role of parents and teens can be toyed with and teased with for humorous effect?

In intra-cohort discussions and conversation: Does this perhaps explain Fandom where the in-group of Fans/Stans make it seemingly a life’s labor to evangelize how great the objects of their interest to the out-group…who just fucking doesn’t get it. And find it…unwell?

Be a mensch or die trying. I make jokes all the time and am serious but not self-serious. Suffer discomfort now or oblivion later and do not suffer in silence.