Me, a One-Hit Wonder

The photo above shows it, the moment in which my life did not change. I may desire the sensation of a life-altering fame, but I know that one semi-viral tweet only serves to remind one that that sensation has not yet been felt in this life. Is it possible to desire something that one has not experienced? Is “desire” the correct word here?

Anyway, a tweet of mine tossed off last night with insouciance of a man who knows nothing about insouciance was liked 750 times (so far) and re-tweeted more than 130 times, and viewed/read/chuckled at (I hope) more than 200,000 times in under twenty-four hours. This is worth a post here if only because my average Twitter engagement is usually 200,000 times smaller than that.

Some of you may be acquainted with the feeling. Some of you may have watched one of your tweets fly out of the nest and somehow attract attention from hundreds of thousands of other Twitter-nests. This is my first time. In thirteen years on Twitter, ten with the current account, this is the first hit tweet. And nothing has changed for me: I am as annoyed or not annoyed by the world and most of its denizens as if 200,000 pairs of Twitter-eyes had not alighted on my one-liner.

Here is visual evidence of my “Twitter engagement” as it is usually seen, to compare with the photo at top:

Not Viral.

Me, scarf included.

Now, out of 200,000 views, how many went on ahead and clicked on my full profile? A tiny percentage, as usual: 291 total, which again is many times larger than the two or three seen most frequently. And how many of those 291 who found themselves confronted with my profile photo, confronted with my earnest mien behind a microphone with an indoors scarf casually worn (my scarfs are insouciant even if I never am), how many of these 291 clicked on the one clickable thing on my profile, this here website?

For the sake of narrative tension, I will instead explain the Tweet and then return to the question. The multimillionaire Andrew Yang announced yesterday the creation of a new political party, called Forward. Reuters reported that the new party, said to be a centrist answer to political polarization that only self-described centrists seem to notice, was started by Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey, and “dozens” of others.

A reporter named Dave Levinthal tweeted the Reuters exclusive about the Forward Party with a quote and no editorializing (even though quote selection is certainly a form of editorial): “The party, which is centrist, has no specific policies yet.”

So, ever the wag, I quote-tweeted the above with my editorial: “Nothing captures Andrew Yang of New Paltz quite so thoroughly as does this headline.”

I am not impressed with Mr. Yang or his political ambitions. I am not virulently against him, but that is faint praise: his platform in race after race thus far has been along the lines of We Need Something Different with no definition given to the words We, Need, Something, or Different.

Further, none of the replies to my comment took up the part of the one-liner that I thought had been the point of the tweet: New Paltz. Mr. Yang lives part-time in my hometown of New Paltz, New York, and attends church at a church I set foot in more than once a week as a member of a certain club. When he ran for New York City Mayor last year, I used that same phrase in Tweets about him: “Andrew Yang of New Paltz.” (New Paltz has its own mayor and is sixty miles away from NYC.) A Yang for Mayor campaign worker messaged me that my repeated joke about New Paltz elicited laughs behind-the-scenes among his NYC staff.

Our Constitution and our voters have a bit of a thing about a desire that our elected servants reside in the district, city, municipality, state, nation they are elected to represent. Both Mr. Yang and the man who won the mayorship, Eric Adams, had complicated relationships with their personal residence in New York City. I joked once or more than once that Mr. Yang could build his political career with a start in the New Paltz Mayor’s office. Even Mr. Yang’s Wikipedia entry features New Paltz:

In a presidential campaign, the state or city of residence does not matter; the last occupant of the White House changed his official state from New York State to Florida while in his term. I am sure that we here in New Paltz will be happy to have a president from here, which was remarked on in the media when he ran for president in the 2020 campaign.

I do not know what the reason is behind the semi-viral success of my Twitter joke today; no famous person re-tweeted it and I hadn’t even hash-tagged #AndrewYang or #NewPaltz.

Some 291 individuals clicked on my Twitter profile from that Tweet. And how many from that hive came on over to visit this website here? None. Zero. The website received more visitors from an an interview I gave to last year (one) than from Twitter (zilch-o).

Today is a day in which nothing changed, but it was a bit more amusing than some days have been recently for me. We do indeed need something different, but it is up to me to find it inside myself. We need different politicians, and Andrew Yang may or may not be that. Perhaps I’ll see him at the coffeeshop here in New Paltz in the future, unless Forward becomes a bigger hit than even my Tweet was.

Mark Aldrich is a journalist, award-winning humor columnist, and writer/performer with the Magnificent Glass Pelican radio comedy improv group, now in its thirty-second season:

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