Magpies and Maggots
While listening to a morning radio program—hosted by a journalist I admire—I heard her talk about how information about all of us has been captured by social media companies that helps target us for advertisers.
When she said, “the data is …,” I winced.
One of my peeves is that data are plural (the singular is datum).
As a scientist—albeit a social scientist—the data-are-plural mantra was drummed into my noggin in college.
The journalist is on my Twitter feed, so I figured I would send her a quick Tweet to remind her that data are plural.
But I talked myself out of it before I opened my tablet.
The problem is that social media, like Twitter, make it super easy for me to drop a note to a stranger and voice my opinion.
Just because I can react online doesn’t mean I should.
I’m not pals with the reporter: I’m not her editor and I’m not her judge.
Think of Twitter’s winged logomark as a magpie.
Magpies became symbols of gossip-hounds in English parlance.
A chatterbox was considered a magpie where I grew up, in England.
The word “pie” refers to pica—the genus name for the magpie (a member of the crow family).
And mag refers to maggot.
You know: larvae. Grubs. Bugs.
I will think of a chattering, maggoty bird next time I hear about a tweet with a cruel message.
You are what you tweet.
18 March 2019