the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Twitter (Page 2 of 2)


I signed up for his application that emails you when someone “unfollows” you on Twitter.  This means that you immediately learn when a person has decided to refuse to see your brilliant 140-character “tweets” on their timeline, so they will never know how good your roast beef sandwich was at lunch.   In internet terms, it is considered a “diss.”  Like most people on this silly Twitter application, I get followed and unfollowed everyday.  Usually, I am unfollowed by people I don’t “know,” like marketers, sex chat sites, or bloggers who mistakenly thought I was a bigshot and then dumped me immediately when they discovered the truth.  

Yesterday, I received a notification that Gorillabuns “unfollowed” me as a friend on Twitter.  For the life of me,  could not understand why.  Did she quit using Twitter?  No.  I knew that she was seven months pregnant.  Perhaps she has gotten so emotional and irrational, as women tend to do in stressful situations, that she was striking out at random targets.  Believe me, I know how women can get. 

Or was there something else going on?!  I did just write a post about my “date” with Astrogirl this weekend.  Perhaps Gorillabuns was insanely jealous?  Was there some sort of blogosphere “Fatal Attraction” going on?  Has Gorillabuns been harboring a secret love for me all these years?  Can my writing be such an aphrodisiac?  I mean, it isn’t that surprising.  I make myself horny with some of my posts.  And she does live in Oklahoma.  She is probably envious of my glamorous life in New York, while she is stuck there, having her husband drive her to the OBGYN in the old family surrey with the fringe on top.  (dear reader:  if you don’t get this reference, you don’t deserve to be reading this blog).

Anyway, what is the point of this post?  Is he writing about blogging and Twitter again?  Doesn’t this dude have a REAL life?

Well, actually — no.    But I am finding that the virtual world is helping me overcome some issues that will hopefully transfer into the real world.  Like how I deal with social situations like this.

Normally, I would have sulked for an hour after someone like Gorillabuns “unfollowed” me.  I would assume that I did something wrong.  But in this case — it made no sense.  I’ve never had an unpleasant word with her.  I even told her she looked “hot” as a pregant woman, and all pregnant women love to hear that!

So, I emailed her.  I asked her why she unfollowed me.  I told her that I was just curious, so maybe I could make amends.

But there is a twist to this saga.  Within minutes of sending the message to Gorillabuns, I received a whole rash of emails from this Twitter “unfollow” application.  Fifty other bloggers had just unfollowed me, including some “friends.”  What the hell was going on?  Had Sophia started up a “revenge” blog, telling the world about her nickname for me, “the  Twenty-Three Second Man.”  Had X been sending around that “photo” I made on that lonely, lonely night to all her blog friends?  Or was it worse — were others under the impression that I was voting for McCain? 

Eventually, I figured out that this “unfollow” application had gone as crazy as HAL in “2001” and was just sending me random and WRONG information.  I quickly dumped the application and apologized to Gorillabuns for accusing her of treason (although now she really thinks I’m unstable and has sent me a restraining order from getting 100 feet from her home).    But at least she is still following me on Twitter!

Even though the whole event was a mistake, I think I deserve some kudos.  Do you know how brave of me it was to email Gorillabuns?  I would have never done that before.  I would have been too afraid of losing face… or learning the truth.

In the real world, has a friend or aquaintance ever thrown a party and NOT invited you?  What do you usually do?  Do you keep it to yourself and feel left out?  Or do you ask your friend, “Hey, what’s up?”  Maybe there is an issue that you don’t know about, or a conflict between you and another friend.

If I ever unfollow you, or don’t respond to a comment, or do something that confuses you — don’t be shy about asking me.   If the farmer and the cowman can be friends, why shouldn’t we communicate honestly?  (now do you get the reference?)

Note:  My latest green post is up on Filter for Good:  A Tree Should Grow in Queens

A Twitter Idea

Recently, I went on Twitter and mentioned that my uncle passed away.  Some of you sent me such beautiful messages.  One blogger sent a quote from the Bible.  Later that day, I went on Google Reader and noticed that I missed reading about the death of a blogger friend’s mother, a birth of a child, and a woman’s three day stay in the hospital for surgery.  After people were so nice to me, I felt like a jerk — and self-absorbed — for not sending support or congrats to others.  Sometimes I think I follow TOO many people, only giving superficial attention to everyone.

I wrote a post last week where I said that the blogosphere seemed “conservative,” meaning that this virtual world follows the rules of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.  It is a free market system, each blogger acting out of self-interest and self-promotion, each wanting to network with the more powerful.  If you work hard, Write well, meet the right people, and give away wii-fits, you can have 2000 comments just like an A-list blogger.  It is up to each of us to work harder to “compete.”  The system works well for most of us. 

But can we make the blogosphere a little more “liberal” — meaning trying to lessen the differences between the haves and have nots, a strengthening of the human aspect of community while maintaining the free-market, democratic nature of blogging?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was more equality in the attention we get from the community during important life events — birth, death, illness, marriage?  It is a sad fact that Dooce’s dog would get more love and attention from readers for getting a splinter in his foot than an unknown blogger electrocuted to death by a faulty laptop (sorry, just made that up, but you know it is true).  It’s just human nature, and our limited attention span.

Every once in a while, a grassroots campaign starts up after a tragedy, such as the Nie Nie Benefit Blog.  But what about the sad events that aren’t so well-publicized.   Do we care only for those when there is sufficient media coverage or the story makes it on Oprah?

I spent this morning trying to think of way to equal the playing field online, not in quality of writing or popularity, but in how we can show more concern to each other, a way to open up the community to helping as many people as possible with a friendly message of hope or congratulations. 

And I thought of Twitter.  Twitter is the ultimate PR tool (look how marketing companies use Twitter) because “social media” spreads information quickly through word of mouth.

I have noticed that news outlets like the AP now use Twitter.  Whenever there is a big news event going on, they broadcast it.  Those on Twitter frequently know about an event before CNN.  Now that is powerful!

Here’s my idea.  Tell me if you think this could work.  We set up some new Twitter account and call it something corny like BloggerCares, BloggerNews, or LifeEvents.   Whenever one of us reads about a blogger with a big event — a death, a birth, a major surgery, a wedding — even if he is someone we don’t know personally — this information could be sent to this account, and then re-tweeted to hundreds of peoples at once, sort of a personal bloggers AP service.   Then each receiver of the tweet could act however they wanted to — sending a message to this blogger acknowledging this happy or sad event, trying to be as personal as they could with someone they don’t really know, posting a comment on the person’s blog, or writing an email showing support.  If it all worked well, we would be closer to a blogosphere where every blogger who needs it — can receive a few nice messages from the community, without any thought to who he is or what religious, color, political entity — or clique – he belongs to, or whether he is A-list or C-list.  

It wouldn’t require much work from anyone.  It is pretty easy to send an “I’m sorry about your loss” or a “congrats on your marriage” in a quick tweet or comment.  I know I certainly appreciated getting those messages about my uncle.

There are still some issues that need to be worked out.  For instance, wouldn’t too many people submit the same information about the identical surgery?   Would it all be too overwhelming to handle?  I’m not sure I could do this by myself.

Is this a dumb idea?  Any suggestions?

Damn You

This was a long week in real life.  It was also a long week ON the internet. 

I joined Stumbleupon, then inadvertently sent invites to everyone on my Yahoo email list.  The evil application tricked me with their checked “tell your friends!” box as the default choice, rather then the logical unchecked one.   I sent glowing testimonies to 300 people, including a few top producers in Hollywood who have now banned me from Burbank.  One blogger who I haven’t interacted with in two years sent me an angry note.  A nice woman from Idaho was confused about “why I loved Stumbleupon so much.”  Several of you actually joined Stumbleupon because I asked you to!  I felt like a total ass. 

Damn you, Stumbleupon!

A few days ago, I went on Twitter and talked about some minor personal issue with Sophia.  I figured that it was safe because Sophia never goes on this application.   BUT — I didn’t realize that the new Yahoo Messenger 9 Beta has some “cool” new addition, where unless you shut it off, “broadcasts” other applications — such at Twitter — right onto Yahoo Messenger.   So much for being an early adopter.   As I chatted in Twitter, Sophia was sitting in Redondo Beach reading each of my tweets in real time!   She was not happy.

Damn you, Yahoo!

At 3AM this morning, I posted a poorly written post.  My clever idea was to talk about sex under the guise of writing about “passion” in politics.   Note to self:  Do not write posts at 3AM.   When I woke up, I noticed that the first five comments were all about the election rather the real point of the post –  getting laid! — so I just deleted the creative failure. 

Damn you, libido!

My uncle, Milton, was buried on Wednesday, in the spot in the cemetery next to my father.   When looking at my father’s tombstone, I was reminde that my father also passed away in September, in 2005, not long after I started this blog.   Milton was my father’s younger brother.   He was cremated in SF and brought here on a flight by his longtime female companion and my cousin.   It is unusual for Jews to be cremated, so I had never seen something like this before.   I have to admit, that despite the sadness of the event, there was some macabre humor involving the ashes.

Neil:  “Can I carry something for you?”

Female Companion:  (handing me a small shopping bag with a box inside)  “You can hold your uncle.”

I think my uncle would appreciate the humor.

There are some complicated family stories involving him that I would like to tell some day, but for now, let me just say that he was a cool and loving man.  He was buried with his favorite hat and a copy of Sports Illustrated. 

I also learned that he read my blog, and liked the sexy posts.  I wish I could talk to him more about this. 

Damn you, Time, which waits for no one!

After I deleted my post this morning, I slept (that’s what happens when you write posts at 3AM).  When I woke up, I felt guilty for not publishing anything today.  I took a walk downstairs.  It was raining, but I forgot my umbrella.  I was unshaven, my chin with graying stubble.  There was only one place to go — across the street to McDonald’s.

Yes, THAT McDonald’s.  I was going to end the week the same way I began it – by going to my infamously bad local franchise for a cup of coffee.  For some reasons, I seem to magically come up with blog posts when I visit.  Some have a Greek Goddess as their muse.  I have Ronald McDonald.

I ran across the street in the pouring rain.  I entered the McDonald’s, and stood on line.  When it was my turn to order, I stepped up to the young woman at the counter.

“Can I help ya?” she asked.

“A small coffee, please.”

“With the senior discount?”


“Do you want the senior discount?” she asked again.

Now, I’m usually quick-witted, with a ready reply to any comment.  But her question was so unexpected, I just stood there, as silent as a solid as a statue of an aging Adonis, not knowing what to say.  I’ve gone to bars where they have carded me, and I have laughed at the idea of anyone thinking I was twenty-one, knowing that the dude at the front door is just going through the rituals, but WTF — a SENIOR DISCOUNT?!  A senior discount for my cup of coffee?  For me?   Is that what I look like to a seventeen year old girl?  Isn’t this the typical age of the typical bikini girl in Maxim magazine?  I was hoping that this type of girl would be throwing herself on my bed after I publish that best-selling novel?  I never expected that she would SEE ME as a senior citizen visiting from Boca Raton! 

How much is it to color your hair at Supercuts?

Damn you, McDonald’s!   (but at least I got a post out of you again)

When I returned home, I told my mother the story.   She laughed and laughed, combing her white hair back, selfishly enjoying my misery.   But as an woman who has been a member of the AARP for several years, she also had some sage advice:

“Next time someone asks you if you want the senior discount, you say YES!”

Neilochka’s Return: I Am a Blogging Rockstar

Today was the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av.  It isn’t a holiday that most American Jews celebrate, probably because it is the saddest holiday of the Jewish calendar, and it occurs in the middle of the summer when the sun is shining and the beaches are open.   Jews have never been good at scheduling.

It is a day of fasting, one of mourning for the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, as well as all the awful things that have befallen the Jewish people.  And there are a lot of them.  The Book of Lamentations is read in temple.   In Sephardic communities, it is customary to read the Book of Job.

At first, I forgot it was Tisha B’Av.  That is, until I took a walk to Main Street to get a bagel, and discovered that the kosher bagel store closed.  This section of Main Street has a sizeable Orthodox population.  I immediately noticed a group of Orthodox men, looking somber in their black coats, walking to temple.  They passed the public library.  In front of the library were laughing kids playing “tag.”  They were shouting and chasing after each other, the energy of childhood in the air.

“You’re it!  You’re it.” one kid screamed and laughed.

It was quite a contrast — the somber men in black hats on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar and the joyous, wild children playing their game.

Online, my virtual life occurs at breakneck speeds, much faster than the ones I notice on Main Street.  It is impossible for me to see contrasts that rush by on my monitor.  My brain cannot work that fast.  On Twitter, I follow “friends,” each reporting on their fast-paced lives in a chaotic mess of the sublime and the repetitive. 

Last week, a blogger “twittered” that his sister had just died.  A few responded with condolences, but within seconds, a new thread was growing on the subject of “Do You Think You Can Dance?”  In a nanosecond, we all switched gears, onto the new topic, and the death of this woman was knocked off the page, into the unseen digital archives.

Unlike the visual contrast of the mourning Orthodox Jews and the playing kids, both human beings expressing the flip sides of  daily life — sad and happy — there is little to grab onto in a virtual world.  There are just bits of information, equally important and equally irrelevant.

When I see the rate of data flow online, it occurs to me that one day, my final moments will be announced on Twitter, and it will last about ten seconds before the subject matter is changed.  That’s a depressing thought.  Am I so inconsequential, another minor subject equal in value to someone’s lunch or the latest category on Alltop?

Megan of the Velveteen Mind wrote an interesting post last week about “blogging rockstars.”  She suggests that this is a silly concept — we are all regular folk, writing in our underwear, from Dooce to the newbie.  I’d like to approach this subject in another way.  Rather than dragging the Dooces of the world to the level of the guy in his underwear eating Cheerios from the box, why not say everyone has potential rockstar talent just like Dooce?   I know, it sounds like bullshit, but isn’t that the point of the whole bloggers’ interview experiment?   If you end up being a blip on Twitter as your final moments scroll off the page — and it will happen that way — why not make believe that you are a rockstar while you are here? 

I am a rockstar.  I don’t need anyone to tell me that I am.  I write.  Perfect.  I wouldn’t be able to write a word if I didn’t think — deep in my heart — that I had something special to say.  Why bother writing then?  I could be jumping rope or watching porn!  So, instead, I write this blog, making believe that I am a blogging rockstar.   And if you tell me that you’re a rockstar, I will think of you as one, too.

Existentialism Explained: A Video Primer

Is living life like washing your car, going through the motions time after time, knowing that it is impossible for it to be perfectly clean?

From Wikipedia:

A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence; that is, that a human being’s existence precedes and is more fundamental than any meaning which may be ascribed to human life: humans define their own reality. There is no connection to literature either. One is not bound to the generalities and a priori definitions of what “being human” connotes. This is an inversion of a more traditional view, which was widely accepted from the ancient Greeks to Hegel, that the central project of philosophy was to answer the question “What is a human being?” (i.e., “What is the human essence”) and to derive from that answer one’s conclusions about how human beings should behave.

In Repetition, Kierkegaard’s literary character Young Man laments:

How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it and why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn’t it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?

Heidegger coined the term “thrownness” (also used by Sartre) to describe this idea that human beings are “thrown” into existence without having chosen it. Existentialists consider being thrown into existence as prior to, and the horizon or context of, any other thoughts or ideas that humans have or definitions of themselves that they create.

Sartre, in Essays in Existentialism, further highlights this consciousness of being thrown into existence in the following fashion. “If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be”.

Kierkegaard also focused on the deep anxiety of human existence — the feeling that there is no purpose, indeed nothing, at its core. Finding a way to counter this nothingness, by embracing existence, is the fundamental theme of existentialism, and the root of the philosophy’s name. Someone who believes in reality might be called a “realist,” and someone who believes in a deity could identify as a “theist.” Someone who believes fundamentally only in existence, and seeks to find meaning in his or her life solely by embracing existence, is an existentialist.

My First Day On Twitter


(I feel bad that I never join those online applications like MySpace and Facebook.    So I decided to join the newly popular Twitter to see what it is all about.   I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’ll probably stop using it by Monday.)

My Proposed Twitterings

I just woke up.  It is morning.  Sophia is sleeping.  7:00AM

Drank a cup of coffee. 7:12AM

Think about calling my mother.  7:19AM

Decide against it.  7:20AM

Think about going to the gym. 7:21AM

Decide against it. 7:22AM

Wondering who will be the final two in American Idol. 7:23AM

Going back to sleep.  7:30AM

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