• Jay Christian

MEET ME IN TEMECULA: How an Internet War of Words on Christmas Got Me Hooked on Twitter

I joined Twitter in 2010 when my evidence professor asked a room full of second-year law students to sign up for the app and tweet the rule for searches and seizures. I can’t remember what I tweeted; it was likely something not terribly profound or even accurate, which is probably why I elected for transactional law upon graduation, but I digress.

Anyway, after that initial entry into the Twitterverse my activity was light, in part because the 2L year is time consuming and apps in general were not the necessity of life they are today. Nowadays you can get dinner, sex and a ride home all from the convenience of your phone; this was not the case just a few years ago. I still remember people logging on to Twitter from their laptops in 2010.

By 2014, it was a different story. Improved application functionality meant people could access their favorite sites or platforms from the comfort of their phones, which was important as society was becoming increasingly tethered to them.

Twitter also began to blow up. Like predecessors MySpace and Facebook, Twitter began to gain traction as a social media outlet and by 2014 was the hottest social media platform going.

Because of that popularity, the world was introduced to a host of subcultures and communities that existed within the Twitter ecosystem, the most prominent of which being #BlackTwitter. I was introduced to #BlackTwitter in 2012 by former law firm colleague turned world traveler @Brantastics.

@Brantastics schooled me on some of the finer points of #BlackTwitter, everything from naming Twitter naming convention (usually a play on pop culture references with a nod to the culture; for instance, my handle was Trinidad James Evans for a time) to prominent #BlackTwitter accounts in the community (@ladylex206 and @dragonflyJonez were two of my earliest follows).

Comedian and Daily Show correspondent Roy Woods Jr. produced an Emmy worthy primer on the nuances of #BlackTwitter which is worth your time; for the purposes of this story just understand #BlackTwitter is a thing, arguably THE thing, on Twitter.

Despite my friend’s schooling, my Twitter account lay dormant for a few years. I would pop in from time to time but for the most part, I wasn’t an influencer by any means. But then on Christmas Day 2014, something happened that would take my Twitter relationship to the next level.

It all started when a user with the handle @MyTweetsRealAF said Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was best shooting guard in the NBA. (Ed. Note: Keep an eye on @MyTweetsRealAF. He’ll be important later.). This tweet caught the attention of NBA writer, podcaster and #BlackTwitter mainstay Tweetgood Mac who uses the handle @SnottieDrippen. Snottie is not impressed with RealAF’s tweet and, expressing the sentiments of the majority of #NBATwitter, lets RealAF know about it:

An opening salvo, but pretty tame by #NBATwitter and #BlackTwitter standards. RealAF next tries a bit of sarcasm/false equivalency when he compares former Spurs great Tim Duncan to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Tweetgood isn’t having it:

A note here. RealAF is railing against folks who at the time were saying L.A. would be better without an aging Bryant as a focal point of the offense, but Duncan was not a good target. At the time, Duncan was still a key contributor to a Spurs team that just came off a title and back-to-back NBA Finals appearances. Not that any of that matters for the purposes of this story because as we will see, Kobe stans ride hard. Literally.

You read that exchange correctly. RealAF is leaving his family, on Christmas, to fight a stranger over internet comments about Bryant. Comments, though not favorable, were objectively fairly benign and pretty accurate.

Okay, let’s unpack that statement because it’s been four years and I still believe this actually happened.

For starters, I never go anywhere on Christmas, primarily because I am hunkered down for five NBA games. Since I became a father, part of my shopping strategy for my kids is to buy them gifts that do not require my assistance or input.

Next, I have not been in a fight since I was like 14. Actually, no I take that back. I had a fight junior year of college. My roommates and I threw an end of the semester party and awoke to find our keg shells missing, which meant we would lose our deposit with the liquor store if we couldn’t find them. I don’t have to tell you that losing a deposit as a college kid with no cash was a big deal.

Anyway, we got some spotty intel that some guys from the football team stole the keg shells and so we went to their house, hungover, and accused them of stealing. They, hungover, vehemently denied it and a semi drunken brawl ensued.

You know what was weird about that? In the midst of it all, we just kinda stopped fighting. I guess as kids we are so used to parents or coaches or girlfriends breaking up fights that we never contemplated a world where nobody stops the fight. I digress, but point being I have not thrown a punch at another man in 16 years and, barring some imminent danger to my family, probably won’t throw another in my lifetime, let alone DRIVE somewhere to do so.

And the comments. Oh buddy, the comments. Granted I can see Mr. RealAF taking exception with Snottie calling his views idiotic but the merits of Drip’s arguments stand. Advanced metrics have allowed us to evaluate player value in more quantitative ways and based on the math, the argument that Duncan is better and/or more valuable than Bryant is not a stretch.

But more importantly, to object to that analysis so much that one drives to fight someone in another town, on Christmas no less, seems a bit much.

Subsequent to this very odd moment in Twitter history, I’m not sure we ever heard from Mr. RealAF again. I believe there was a diss track involved, but I will spare you the link. The internet is free so Google it if you are so inclined.

For his part, Snottie played it cool after the fact. He was gracious enough to grant a few interviews but for the most part kept it moving. He is still active on Twitter and is a good NBA/#BlackTwitter follow if you are thinking about signing up.

For me, this was my full fledge initiation into Twitter. That experience of reading reactions to live events in real time hooked me. Twitter is my basic news source these days; #BlackTwitter especially is where I check the pulse of the culture.

Twitter is not as fun as it was in 2014. The early adopters will say that it was even better before people like me showed up. It’s still a great place to see what’s happening or have a laugh, though between Milkshake Duck and Russian bots, the whole thing has become kind of depressing and cynical.

But I can’t quit; not anytime soon. Because on Christmas Day four years ago, a guy with a username and Twitter handle that paid homage to Fleetwood Mac and NBA hall of famer Scottie Pippen told a diehard Bryant fan that the Black Mamba was shooting 38% from the field and said fan responded by driving two hours to fight. God bless us everyone.

#NBA #Xmas #JayChristian