MAILBAG: The Trouble With Tweeney

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following represents two divergent reader responses to Jeff Deeney’s new Twitter project for Phawker (CLICK HERE for the details). Deeney responds in the comments section which should be of interest to all you people that love giving or getting a good flamejob.


This is downright shameful. Poor black people say the darndest things, right? Ya, well so do self-inflated white dudes. Your snippets of conversation provide no context and smack of the same poverty porn you’ve been peddling on this site for a while now, Deeney. It is so disheartening to see tweeney_1_1.jpghow you’re capitalizing on your access just to trivialize these impoverished communities. I’m sure if they followed your twitter they would feel clowned. It especially stings that you’re getting these quotes while on the “job”, which I would assume is some sort of community services job. You’re there to help. So start.

–SHAMEFUL, Mar 16, 11:02 PM

DEAR SHAMEFUL What’s so shameful about giving the outside world a window into the world many have never seen and away from which most of those who have seen it have run? Most of this isn’t humorous at all, unless you’ve been there and seen enough of it for yourself that you just have to laugh, like I have. When I left a place where I was reminded of this every day, Deeney kept his nose in it, and has been relaying messages from deep space ever since, seemingly just to keep us all honest. It makes me ill on a regular basis to work and mingle with people who are so wrapped up in the secure, upper/middle class existence they’ve been sheltered under since birth that they would read Deeney’s tweets and insist they’re fiction. To me, they’re bite-sized reminders of what the world is for a lot of folks; reminders that there’s a lot of good that needs to be done and a lot of uncomfortable and horrifying reality out there; reminders that there are a lot of real humans doing what they can every day to deal with it. They are perspective, and they direct some extra attention where not enough is paid. Isn’t that a good thing? Without readable reports from the front, there would just be so much more anonymous, silent suffering going on. Is that what you’d prefer? For people NOT to see this? For people to continue to forget about the problems of the inner city and the people trying to do something about them?

tweeney_1_1.jpgSomething is better than nothing, and even the folks who are interested, like me, need to get their information in tolerable doses. I’m not going to wallow in it all day every day; I can’t. I just need a reminder every once in a while of how good I have it, and not to forget about the shit going on every day out there in the real world–shit that might as well be happening in China, for all anyone in my Ivy League neighborhood cares. I need something to keep the reality top-of-mind. Jeff’s articles and now his tweets do this for me and many readers. If he gets some attention for it, good for him. You may think of it as poverty porn. I think of it as a window into a part of the world that we all need to be paying more attention to–a window that you can actually tolerate looking through occasionally. It’s not porn, it’s reality. Context or not, it’s better than silence. It edifies ME. Maybe you should start writing about the things you see, too. Who knows, people might pay more attention to it. It might even help.

— SHAMELESS, Mar 17, 3:38 PM

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