By Norman Chad
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sports Nation has turned into Twitter World. Shaquille O'Neal and Lance Armstrong are among a growing number of athletes who are postings "tweets" -- short, online messages -- to instantly communicate with the public.
(Twitter is a so-called "social networking site." Old-school social networking was playing squash with a Kennedy, who then got your son a summer job on Capitol Hill. New-school social networking is posting a note to friends and paparazzi that you just bought a Juiceman that you're going to try after getting home from Pilates class.)
In-game Twitter posts are the wave of a bleak future because people want to know and need to know and have to know what's running through the mind of a Milwaukee Bucks forward at halftime of a 52-44 game.
Not only are we all going to hell in a handbasket, but we all apparently will be texting about it.
The new Women's Professional Soccer league is making Twittering an in-game priority, allowing players to post notes.
(As a rule, I won't follow any sport that has more tweets than goals.)
Poker champion Phil Hellmuth -- who believes his life is an open book that should be read around the clock -- is a serial Twitwit. Here are some of his recent tweets:
"Just drank Cristal at my home with Gavin Smith, Layne Flack, Jeff Madsen and Joe Sebok!"
"I am a writing machine! I wrote . . . 4,000 words for my autobiography today!"
"I am at Starbucks . . . eating and going to the driving range."
If Hellmuth has a significant bowel movement today, I'll be the first to know.
Alas, several trends are accelerating our digital descent into the abyss.
This is the so-called Information Age, characterized, rather unfortunately, by too much information.
Frankly, I don't want all-access. It was better when we knew less about our entertainers and athletes -- nothing detracted from their on-screen or on-field image.
Before my time, Clark Gable was a big movie star and Rocky Marciano was a boxing icon, and I guarantee you my father couldn't tell you two things about their personal lives. These days, I walk into a Brad Pitt film and I'm thinking about the Vietnamese boy he and Angelina adopted; I tune into a Yankees game and I'm wondering if A-Rod was with Madonna the night before.
Moreover, it appears that every moment in American life nowadays is text-messagable. We have no filter -- momentous moments and mundane moments are treated equally.
People now get on cellphones to tell friends they just walked in or out of a movie theater. They write blogs about trips to the motor-vehicle bureau. They post photos of themselves on Facebook standing in line at Radio Shack buying batteries.
(I know a woman who walks down the busiest streets in midtown Manhattan with her head buried in her BlackBerry. If King Kong were to jump off the Empire State Building 15 feet in front of her, she wouldn't see him because she's texting a co-worker about the Denver omelet she just had for breakfast.)
Imagine the informational misery previous generations were spared because Twitter wasn't around yet.
Michelangelo: "Sistine Chapel ceiling larger than it looks; back is killing me."
Christopher Columbus: "No sign of land yet."
Robert Peary: "Man, it's cold up here."
How can you seize the day when you're texting it away? I implore Twitwits to follow the three simple precepts that guided my Uncle Spoons' life:
1. You should not share every thought.
2. You should not record every moment.
3. You should not marry too young, or too often.Ask The Slouch
Q. Are you as smart as you look in still photos and moving pictures? (Jim Rose; Spokane, Wash.)
A. I'm watching poker players all day and television all night -- what, this makes me Archimedes? No, it makes me a maladjusted, middle-aged man who knows a little too much about cards and cable TV and much too little about anything that really counts in this lifetime.
Q. When performing in the Southern Hemisphere, do figure skaters' triple jumps go in a clockwise motion? (Donald Day; Hagerstown.)
A. What, now I look like Sir Isaac Newton?
Q. If President Obama throws out the first pitch for the Nationals, shouldn't he give the Redskins equal time and throw out the first interception for Jason Campbell? (Spencer Coleman; Rockville.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. If Clark Kellogg were a dishwasher repairman, would we all be relegated to eating off of paper plates? (Scott D. Shuster; Watertown, Mass.)
A. Pay this wise soul, too.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!