That's right. I truly dislike Caleb Howe. I dislike him so much, I made him one of my very first blocked conservatives on Twitter (I like to call them "BCOT").
Did I mention I love Twitter? I love Twitter so much I'm coming up on 100,000 tweets since March, 2007. I love Twitter and I understand it pretty well. The dynamic of the retweet, the conservative effort on a 24/7 basis to game the conversation rather than engage honestly, all of it. There's an ebb and flow to conversation depending on the time of day similar to a river raft ride through white water and calm streams.
The only time Twitter is ugly is when people toss words like atomic weaponry while claiming hey, it's all snark and mirrors, nothing to see here, move along.
So Caleb Howe slaps up a post over at Mediaite entitled "I don't like Roger Ebert" where he starts with a bogus story about how he loves Twitter but it's not real life and stuff, and what he really likes to do is just get all sorts of attention while wallowing in a bunch of snark and gratuitous nonsense, and well, he laid it down, so I'm going to just pick it up and run with it a bit.
In his defense
You know what? It’s a polarized country we live in. Often rabidly so. I play that game. Most of you reading this, you play it too. We play for ratings, for clicks, for retweets. We play to satisfy bloodlust, vengeance, self-righteous fury. We play because we have contempt. And contempt is the one thing you will see on display more often than any other emotion in political tweeting. Because that’s not a person, it’s a TeePee. Not a man, a target.
I realize I'm a liberal, middle-aged female who hasn't known the rush of testosterone in my veins when I see hateful words on my screen (no matter what the venue), but my motives for writing, interacting, and speaking out have nothing at all to do with contempt. Contempt is a right-wing frame, it's authoritarian. I have contempt, therefore I hate. I hate, therefore I am. This is their frame. Not mine. Nor, I daresay, Ebert's.
There's more. Lots more. Paragraph after paragraph telling you how Caleb Howe hatched a plot to aggravate left-leaning folks (as if they don't have that down to a science by now), and how he played everyone for fools by trolling for the reaction he received, all that and more. He goes on for 16 full paragraphs, all about Caleb, that clever guy. A true gamer, legend, right-wing sleight-of-hand master.
And then we come to paragraph 17 of a post clearly structured to be a nice long exercise in self-adulation before the CYA moment and confession that Twitter-just-isn't-real time:
I can’t say I like him, but I can say I shouldn’t hate him. And I shouldn’t have flippantly picked what I thought would hurt him the most, just because I thought I had a point to make on Twitter. Cheaply. Callously.
Twitter, as we should say, isn’t real life. It isn’t even real time. I forgot about humanity. And for that, I am suddenly very sorry.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m going to be nice all the time. Vodka cometh. But I’ve too long relished the race to the bottom. To be frank, I’ve reveled in the sarcasm and nastiness, and, yes, even the negative feedback. This morning I was wallowing in self-righteous glee at what I had wrought. But I was wrong. And it took reading Roger Ebert’s twitter feed for about five hours to make me realize that. To make me chastened. To humble my pride.
Great. Glad he apologized, even if it was contained between paragraphs of self-justifying nonsense. Still, I am glad he apologized. He should've done it days ago directly to Ebert, but all progress comes in baby steps.
He's still wrong about Twitter. Real people do inhabit the place, just like the real people who inhabit comments on the posts here at Crooks and Liars. Real people, with real lives, real health problems, real concerns and real interests. They're even real voters. They come to social networks looking for a connection and a conversation. It's not all of life, but it is a part of daily life in this connected world of ours, and if Howe is really sorry, he'll get a clue about that.
Howe's declaration that Twitter isn't real life reveals more about why he did what he did than anything else. When nothing is real, when it's all a game, when cancer is a word and not a disfiguring disease, all bets are off. This is how those words made it through his filters, because no one was real to him. Not one person.
Caleb Howe is a fascinating look at how conservatives think. No one is real; it's all a game. Roll the 20-sided die for your contempt score, move to the next battle. This ability to disconnect from humanity is what should disqualify them from any leadership role whatsoever.
Any apology is better than none. A sincere apology devoid of self-reference and excuses would have been best. Part of me agrees with Esquire's Chris Jones:
Yes, Caleb Howe is more famous than he was last week, but he's famous for being a person who doesn't know whether he should introduce himself to strangers at parties, just in case, and he's famous for his allegiance to the very thing that Roger has already stomped again and again: Caleb Howe, for whatever unfathomable reason, has sided with cancer.
Howe might do well to really think through Jones' conclusion:
Some people create. Some people make beautiful things. Some people inspire. Some people educate. Some people help. Some people dream, some people love, and some people are loved.
Other people pick cancer, and even cancer must sometimes wonder why it didn't choose to become medicine instead.
Some people are real. Others live through contempt. Which one is cancer?