Saturday, May 21, 2011

TWITTER RAPTURE-MANIA, 5/21/2011

Hi again, everybody.

Has it actually been nearly a week since I posted here?  Wow.  Sorry 'bout that.

I've actually been ... well, writing.  Chapters 1 and 2 of VANISHED, to be precise.  When one's driven me bonkers long enough, I switch to the other one and beat my head against it for awhile.  Progress is happening.  But it's slow going. 

Still, getting there.  Told Tom that I'd try to have the first chapter or two to him by yesterday.  Thinking at this point that 'by tomorrow' is still a definite possibility.

I've also spent a lot of time avoiding writing, I'm afraid.  Mostly by wandering the sparkly hallways of the endless candy store / junk shop / art gallery / watering hole that is Twitter-Tumblr-FavStar.

(Twitter = micro-blogging:  140-character-or-less "tweets".  You set up an account, @YourUserName.  You tweet.  Anyone can follow you and your tweets (unless you block them).  You can follow anyone else and their tweets (unless they block you).  You can "favorite" ("star") a tweet, or "retweet" it (which means anyone following you can see it too).)


(Tumblr -- and similar sites, although Tumblr seems to be the most common -- is like a scrapbook.  You can post pictures, texts, video, you name it.  You can follow others' Tumblrs,  "like" ("heart") or repost their posts -- and link the whole thing to your Twitter account, if you want, so that each new post generates a tweet with a link to that post.)


(FavStar ... Favstar is like Twitter's evil, egomaniacal twin.  It's a site that keeps track of all your "favorite"ed and "retweet"ed tweets, and even gives you little virtual trophies if you get enough of either (5 or more).  It's free ... but people can pay a monthly fee, which among other things allows them to nominate one "Tweet of the Day", which is a bigger deal than a mere trophy-thingy.  Trophy-thingies are bigger deals than re-tweets.  Re-tweets are bigger deals than "starring".  It's all very artificial and meaningless -- and highly addictive.  Reminds me of the little consoles where Cold War era lab animals would push buttons or pull levers to get food pellets, or deliver electrical jolts to their brains' pleasure centers.  It's easy to end up sitting at the console all day, tweeting away, hoping for more and more stars and retweets.)

Probably the biggest single focus of everyone's collective attention on Twitter the last few days has been the biblical Rapture that a guy named Camping has been saying would happen today.  He said the same thing in the '90s,  then decided he'd made a mathematical error in his calculations.  Apparently he miscalculated again about today.

I hadn't even heard about "Rapture 5/21/2011" -- or at least it hadn't really registered -- until my San Francisco trip last weekend, when I was treated to dueling billboards (Family Radio versus the Atheists) and multiple joking references on local public radio.  Which makes sense:  Camping lives in Oakland.

But a few days ago on Twitter, the trickle of Rapture-related references (mostly jokes) became a steady flow, then a flood.  No one admitted to taking Camping's prediction seriously -- but almost EVERYONE made some reference to it.  Starting yesterday afternoon, as 5/21 began in the Pacific and worked its way West, some of the jokes started to sound the teensiest bit uneasy.

When reports of earthquakes started popping up -- I've noticed over and over since the day Bin Laden died that breaking news stories DO break on Twitter first --you could actually feel things getting a little tense.

By late last night -- well past Camping's appointed hour in Australia and the far East -- the jokes were all jokey again.  The whistling past the graveyard feeling had pretty much dissipated.  But well into today, it was still the most common topic of humor and conversation.

I wished a non-tweeting friend who's usually pretty up on current events a "Happy Apparently Not Rapture Day" this afternoon.  Turned out she vaguely remembered hearing something about it -- just about like I had a week or so ago.

So was Rapture-Mania 2011 mostly a Twitter / Christian fringe phenomena?  Love to hear your takes on it, everybody.

The whole experience left me sick of Rapture jokes, but more fascinated than ever by Twitter and the people who congregate there.

Up until a couple months ago I thought Twitter was just a place where celebrities kept the world up-to-date on the minutiae of their lives.  So far the corner of it I've been in has been filled mostly with smart, funny, thoughtful, articulate people.  Many of them socially awkward.  Many of them struggling, lonely, unhappy.  Most of them  likable.  A lot of them admirable:  Brave, generous, and caring.

Just about every time I go on Twitter, someone makes me laugh out loud.  Someone breaks my heart a little.  Someone restores my faith in humanity.  Sometimes it's all the same person.

Neat place.  Definitely not G-rated, or even PG-13.  Not terribly politically correct.  But surprisingly cozy and welcoming.

All right, back to working on VANISHED I go.  Or maybe to bed.

Or maybe to Twitter for a little while before bed.

Good night, everybody.  Love and hugs!

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