The first rule of Twitter Fight Club is... well, I'm violating it right now. However, insincere flattery and flagrant pandering to judges is expected, which is why I'm delighted to have been selected as a Twitter Fight Club judge this year.
What is Twitter Fight Club?
A March Madness competition among foreign policy and national security experts played on Twitter. It started as an inside joke among national security press, foreign policy wonks, and expert snarkslingers. Previous competitions have included such name brand thinkers and outspoken opiners as Glenn Greenwald (accomplished lawyer, former Guardian journalist, First Look Media co-founder and Edward Snowden writer) and Anne-Marie Slaughter (accomplished lawyer, Princeton dean and State department director). Both of whom recently moved. That's right, part of Twitter Fight Club is using logic, sometimes tragically flawed, to drive home your point.
Why is Twitter Fight Club important?
Because it represents the best of what Twitter can be -- a roiling marketplace of ideas, a forum where Locke and Demosthenes debate for all to judge. Just as the printing press ignited earlier revolutions, social media -- especially Twitter -- brings the astronomical multiplier effect to discourse, often with explosive results. People with deep knowledge and expertise in a certain area exchange barbs with others who are expert at flowing an argument. It's fast-paced and loosely formatted, with fluid rules and arbitrary judging. Isn't that exactly what foreign policy involves? Hell, isn't that exactly what life involves?
Twitter makes discourse better. Why? No long drawn out explanations with first affirmatives and numerous sub-points. A limit of 140 characters means every single one must have impact. At the same time, longer arguments and sub-points can easily be played out over time. I would submit, the best tweeters have a definite story arc or theme, and you can read their feed like a good book.
So, why me?
The long answer (I hear your groans), using the words of Mr. Info: I asked him why both he and our son like to work with me. Yes, I hold down at least three jobs depending upon how you count. In two of these, I work for the aforementioned family members. Husband shot back, "because if ideas can emerge annealed in the 50,000 watt blowtorch of your critical thinking, they can survive anything." Uh... thanks?
Previous discussions have revealed that Mr. Info also likes working with me because I'm like "the Chinese shipping containers washing up on our shores filled with marketplace-ready ideas." Bonus points to him for avoiding calling me a beached whale.
Twitter equalizes people and elevates ideas.
Twitter democratizes communication by allowing for cross discipline, cross border, cross hierarchy connections; simultaneously it meritocratizes communication by elevating the best ideas among a brutal mercenary hierarchy of thinkers. Yes, annealing their ideas into better more powerful proposals. Admittedly it doesn't always work that way. I learned yesterday that internet trolls not only have a theme song but there's already a remix. But that is for another day.
For someone like me with multiple interests (Hint: googling multi-interested person doesn't generate the results you might expect... or maybe it does), an analytical mind, and tremendous respect for people who work hard to improve the human condition, Twitter is gold.
So I spent my weekend tidying up my tabs, doing some opposition research on the contestants, and preparing to be both lauded and vilified: lauded during my day of judging; vilified forever after by the 97 percent who don't prevail.
I'm hoping the contestants I judge will showcase their work, teach me something about the world, and make all of us laugh.
Back to why I was selected.
Short answer: Because I asked... politely and with enthusiasm.
Twitter Fight Club started Monday, March 24 and it anoints a new winner Thursday, April 3. You can follow the action on Twitter at #TFC14.
Follow Jill A. Carpenter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PTSDinfo