Blue checkmarks, gold checkmarks — whatever color it is, Elon Musk is getting Twitter wrong

Billionaire inventor and all-around weirdo Elon Musk recently bought Twitter.

Musk reportedly put a lot of people out of work, then asked some of them to come back, and told everyone they would have to work hard if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Musk should buy some newspapers. That’s how the corporate chains do business: cut jobs and constantly threaten the jobs of the remaining employees.

I don’t work for Twitter, and to borrow a line from Mark Twain, I shall try to do right and be good so God will not send me there.

I did not think, however, Musk could lay me off, but I think he’s trying.

I am a verified Twitter user. That means there’s a blue checkmark next to my name.

I got this when I worked as a full-time paragraph stacker.

The bosses went through some behind-the-scenes process with the Twitter gurus to ensure journalists were verified and their tweets would be considered trustworthy.

It turned out nobody trusted journalists regardless of what kind of checkmark followed their tweets.

When the poohbahs at the Gannett outlet store in Des Moines sent me packing, they collected my employee ID and laptop, but not the blue checkmark on my Twitter account.

I’ve remained this verified rogue able to tweet wild things such as, “You know I’m trying to remain optimistic, but I just don’t think the 3-13 Chicago Bears are going to make the Super Bowl this year.”

Eight people liked this. Two people commented on it.

Behold the social media power of Finney, verified tweeter.

One of Musk’s ideas for making Twitter profitable was to give blue checkmarks to anyone who paid $8 a month for a different level of Twitter service.

For $8, I can get a pepperoni pizza at Little Caesars.

It might not be the best pizza money can buy, but it’s defiantly better than paying for the VIP room on Twitter.

My blue checkmark is on the way out, reports say.

For now, if you hover over my blue checkmark, it says “This is a legacy account. It may or may not be notable.”

Hilariously, it says the same thing when you hover over Taylor Swift’s blue checkmark.

For the record, she’s notable — at a minimum.

Am I notable?

No, no I don’t think I am. I stacked paragraphs for most of my working life. But I was not notable.

I did a good job, but I was never the favored son or the award winner.

Near the end of my career, when all this social media nonsense became critical to my survival as a reporter, I became grumpier and recalcitrant.

I stayed away from the bosses’ pet projects and was colder and unwelcoming to the young journalists who I knew would outlive me.

Now I’m trying to figure out who am as a teacher. It’s hard but hardly notable.

The only time checkmarks play a role in my life these days is when I’m grading tests or one of my supervisors is evaluating me to see if I’m living up to the district standards.

Now Twitter has gold checkmarks for businesses. The Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs), for example, have a gold checkmark.

If you hover over the gold checkmark, it says “This account is verified because it’s an official business on Twitter.”

Fair enough.

I was surprised to see Musk still had a lowly blue checkmark. But he’s modeling the new blue.

Hover over his blue checkmark and it reads, “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue.”

As the owner of the company, I hope Musk at least gets a discount.

He reportedly lost $200 billion in personal wealth last year. With just $183 billion left, he might need to start clipping coupons.

All this checkmark stuff is nonsense anyway.

Twitter has proven itself a terrible way to communicate anything except rage and anguish.

That’s true of all the other media, too.

Someday, the gold checkmarks will be replaced by platinum, then periwinkle, burnt sienna, and so on until they go through the whole box of 120 Crayola Crayons.

None of it will matter. It never mattered. If you use Twitter or any other social media for anything but amusement, you’re being silly.

Social change does not come from hashtags. It comes from voting, changes in power, and court decisions.

Younger readers, if there is such a creature, may disagree. Feel free to tweet your well-reasoned argument at me (@newsmanone) in 280 characters or less.

For now, however, I remained as possibly noteworthy — or not — as Taylor Swift.

And if that’s not amusing, I guess somebody will just have to throw a pie in Musk’s face.

Middle school Daniel P. Finney is a Marion County Express columnist. Reach him at newsmanone@gmail.com.

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Podcast 107: Old celebrities die just like the rest of us

Topics of minor import discussed by a Midwestern middle school teacher and a Southern accountant.

112: Artificial intelligence is replacing humans and we're too dumb to notice it; Guess the Hallmark Valentine's Day movie; with guest host T-Square Talking Paragraphs

Ideas to be discussed by a haggard middle school teacher and a man a reader for the local Gannett Outlet Store once called "the mouthpiece of Big Ag:" 1. The singularity approaches. 2. Jimmy Kimmel is going to ruin my favorite Twitter account  3. Which sucks more: "That 90s Show" or "Velma?" 4. All drive-through fast food 5. Hallmark Valentine's Game — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/support
  1. 112: Artificial intelligence is replacing humans and we're too dumb to notice it; Guess the Hallmark Valentine's Day movie; with guest host T-Square
  2. 111: Laser-guided podcast
  3. 110: Dan's laundry is stolen and the internet is out at his work while Paul faces a flood at his office
  4. 109: NFL players are more important than you; Arsenal hates the color red; There's a movie called 'Plane'; and other musings
  5. 108: Old celebrities have died and people can't handle it; Big Ten crashes in burns in college football playoffs; and wouldn't be nice to be a guest on 'The Love Boat'

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Why are we only ‘merry’ at Christmas?

The passage of Christmas marks the end of two traditions people often forget.

First, the usage of the word “merry” drops off to practically zero until October of the next year.

I don’t why “merry” is so closely associated with Christmas and not any other occasion, but so it goes.

Merry is a perfectly fine adjective.

Sometimes I say Happy Christmas and Merry New Year just to confuse people.

It rarely confuses people because anyone I would bother to do that already knows I’m weird about language.

I was in a meeting for new teachers at one of the district offices earlier this month.

I asked one of the presenters why educators insist upon saying “share out” instead of simply “share.”

The verb “share” implies a transaction outside the self. “Share” is often paired with “out” when talking about apportioning land.

But a person shares with another or an audience, especially when it is a discussion of education policy.

Why do I care? I can’t say. I just notice patterns in language. They tend to come by unconscious repetition of groupthink that manufactures meaningless cliches such as “it is what is.”

Everything is what it is. Tell me about something that isn’t what it is or is what it isn’t. That’s interesting.

Corporations and governments shape the language people use in their spaces.

I hated it when editors at the Register would go off to a conference and come back with a new docket of babbles.

The paper once had a glad-handed, smiley editor who was more used car salesman than a journalist.

He loved the word “urgency.” I was a night police reporter. Everything I wrote was on deadline.

The only thing that could make me more urgent is if I was holding off going to the bathroom just so I could get a story filed in time for the copy desk to read it.

“Urgency” is the kind of talk used by the same corporate goons who call newspapers “properties.”

Avoid it if you have a soul.

My friend Paul recently shared an especially odious corporate filler.

When they want Paul to do something extra, they ask if he has the “capacity” for it.

Paul notes he is not an electric transformer sending current back and forth.

Nor is he a large cargo plane trying to squeeze on an extra load.

He’s an accountant. He has an almost unlimited capacity for spreadsheets.

At the Register, editors would ask what you had “on your plate.”

This always came in advance of them asking you to do something they needed to be done, probably urgently.

I wanted to respond, “I was just headed out to lunch” — even if it was 9:30 a.m., but I was never that clever at the moment.

Anyway, we don’t use “merry” enough.

I’m going to throw around Merry Presidents Day, but I don’t know if we are allowed to observe that one anymore.

The second thing the end of the Christmas season brings is closure on the brief period during which the specter of Santa Claus can be used as a disciplinary tool.

A parent will often scold a misbehaving child that Santa is watching, and such naughtiness will reduce the overall Christmas haul by three to five presents.

This type of threat only works from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24.

Nobody talks about Santa before Halloween except the human resources department at the mall which must hire the guy to sit in the chair and take pictures with germ-infested children bleating and squirming on his knee.

And once the presents have arrived, the gig is up.

Control of naughtiness defaults back to whatever medium previously employed by the parents or caregivers.

Santa is a lot trickier than I realized as a boy.

Some years back, a couple in a since-closed comic store talked about whether they would do the Santa myth with their child.

They worried that when the child eventually discovered Santa wasn’t real, the child would curse them as liars.

I suggested that that probably would not be the case. I was reared on the story of Santa and eventually figured out that the gifts, like everything else in the house, were courtesy of my parents.

I am not a consumer of the umpteen podcasts about murder, nor have watched a minute of the Netflix drama based on the life of cannibal murderer Jeffery Dahmer.

Nonetheless, I can’t think of any serious serial killer in history whose psychological profile showed he broke bad the moment he learned Santa wasn’t real.

Maybe this is why “merry” is reserved for Christmas. People need the extra mirth to stop taking everything so seriously.

Middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney is a Marion County Express columnist.



Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.