In this epic series of tweets, Ezra once again comments on American mindsets through an exploration of societal trends. By opening with a strong statement that identifies “cool dads” as a source of generational disdain, he begins to discuss the implications of such widespread hatred. However, because he fails to expand on the definition of a cool dad, Ezra leaves readers to imagine such a horrific species of people. By apparently pointing to Al Bundy as an uncool dad, and suggesting that modern fathers will have “to act like [him] when [they] have kids,” Ezra seems to solidify his opinion that total losers are superior to cool dads. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the deep metaphor that emerges in the sequel to Ezra’s first tweet. His claim that “America wants its dads hot or ice-cold” speaks to a greater issue of extremity in American culture. Here, Ezra recognizes that Americans jump to label things as either the very best or the very worst, with nothing in between. His example of cool dads having no place in society because of their inability to be either “hot or ice-cold” directly displays this pressing issue, and conveys how we all miss out on the cool side of life when we are too focused on the hot or the cold. Do Americans, or any people on earth, really want to be sentenced to a life of Al Bundy-like parenthood? Ezra’s attempt to expose this damaging tendency comes at a crucial time. Our generation must become willing to accept that which is cool before we are fukt 4 life.
Through examples of twisted apathy, Ezra explores the role of self-confidence in the lives of others, and how such a concept can be conflicting, yet therapeutic. Trapped between genuine inner feelings and societal expectations of what is worthy of receiving a fuk, the individual that Ezra speaks of is clearly on the verge of a personal revolution. Until “[his or her] last fuk is truly given,” this person will be constantly giving fuks, regardless of whether or not the fuks are worth the distress that they involve. A person’s “desire 2 not give a fuk” is a sign of blooming confidence, because it shows the prioritization of one’s own feelings above outside pressures. However, how long can an individual push away such personal feelings before euphoria is within reach? Ezra notes that the end of fuk-giving results in this “wave of silent euphoria,” and presents this as a relieving, cleansing experience. For some, this may be true, but what about those who feel most comfortable forming strong opinions and giving lots of fuks? If euphoria only comes after reaching an ultimate level of apathy, like Ezra says, are the genuine fuk-givers of the world destined for endless emotional turmoil?
By approaching a monumental personal issue in his life in such a drastic way, Ezra makes a significant delve into the literary realm of naturalism. Readers immediately feel Ezra’s misery through not just the source of his problem, but by his bold method of reaction to it. Although the initial spark of his anger is a hashtag, Ezra makes the realistic observation that his phone is the gateway for such a vile substance to reach him. His decision to dispose of this material device in order to achieve a level of personal serenity is highly connected to his growing naturalist sensibilities. When Ezra “buried [his] phone in the garden & spent three days in the woods,” he fundamentally replaced his own symbol of despair with a physical relationship with nature. The garden, full of the innocence of fresh life, purified his phone, while the woods disconnected his physical self from the troubles of reality. Ezra did not view this experience as a simple act of escaping to nature, though—he was reinventing himself by “communing with nature” instead. By returning to his true essence as a human being rather than a product of a technological society, Ezra the tweeter now operates under a naturalist twit-erary movement. Subsequently, Vampire Weekend fans should begin preparing themselves for a fourth album that consists of nothing but the sound of the wind and the dropping of leaves.
In this brief and characteristically ambiguous droplet of advice, Ezra offers a confusing opinion on a vague topic. As readers, do we fully understand the context to which Ezra intends us to apply this wisdom? Perhaps more importantly, does his intention ultimately matter? His words can be applied to many situations, including but not limited to dating, friendships, arguments, and apologies. Each situation has the ability to be quite “sad/pathetic,” just as each can be “kinda cool.” After a period of reflection, though, it becomes evident that Ezra fooled us with this statement. By failing to immediately find a clear interpretation of his tweet, readers deliberated on its meaning for too long—indeed, “too little, too late.” However, because of his plan to trick his audience into attempting too MUCH analysis, too late, Ezra ultimately compliments his readers by verifying that they are “kinda cool.” Was that part of his plan? If it was, readers owe him gratitude. If it was not, they owe themselves a pat on the back for finally outsmarting the master.
Ezra challenges our personal definitions of rules by opening up a discussion of their value, or lack thereof, in the world we live in. Immediately, it is crucial to realize that Ezra implies that a difference exists between rules and laws: he notes that “you can break a law without knowing it,” which is presumably where he sees the distinction between the two. Under the implications of such a worldview, then, his statement that we must “know the rules to break them” furthers this separation. Ezra’s insistence that we as a society are not aware enough of the laws under which we live serves as a bold social commentary, rather than as a lesson on the importance of a rule-following community. Along with attempting to warp our definitions of rules, Ezra forces readers to reflect on the times that they have broken rules or laws without knowing it. Even more effectively, though, he helps people understand that failure to at least acknowledge the existence of laws is perhaps worse than a failure to abide by such guidelines. Ezra does not shame his readers, but he certainly does not allow them to ignore their shortcoming as functioning members of society. By confronting his readers on this tendency to feign ignorance of societal rules, Ezra is performing his own duty as a citizen by saving them from the undesirable fate of being “fukt 4 life.”
Addressing the dangers of excessive extravagance in our lives, Ezra cautions people to live in moderation. He references a “silk suit” and “suede shoes” as examples of luxuries that, despite being self-satisfying, can interfere with basic functions of everyday life when they are used without discretion. Ezra’s words create a metaphor that explains what will happen to an overindulgent person when “it starts raining the next morning”—he or she will stumped by the unexpectedness of life if they have not given thought to anything besides their own extravagance. Just like a person trapped in the rainy aftermath of a sleepover with no way to get home, anyone who is too caught up in their attempts to live lavishly will be left “marooned 4 days” because of their failure to consider that high expectations are not always flawlessly executed. Perhaps in Ezra’s own experience, he has been in this situation with clothes he purchased IRL1, planned to wear onstage, and was subsequently forced to abandon when weather conditions threatened the safety of these garments. Such a troubling experience would certainly remind Ezra to refrain from wearing extravagant clothes he bought IRL while performing as a musician, therefore internally reinforcing his message of conscientious modesty.
1. See: Koenig, Ezra (arzE). “swear I thought IRL stood for “In Ralph Lauren.”” 3 Dec. 2012, 1:42 p.m. Tweet.
Ezra embodies a nearly bildungsroman character as he explores the relationship between his behavioral mannerisms and his increasing maturity. The deliberate decision of “switching out ‘peace’ for ‘ciao’” represents a shift from the hopeful naivety of adolescence to a globally-conscious mindset of an adult who is in touch with a more blunt reality. More directly, a young person using ‘peace’ as a farewell message is not only a trendy mannerism, but it translates to a positive wish to his or her peers to remain well during their time apart. By literally wishing peace upon others as a way of saying goodbye, Ezra realizes that this practice alludes to a youthful, hopeful attitude that peace is a possibility in his life. On the contrary, to abandon the word ‘peace’ as an everyday conversational term is to abandon that hope and to replace it with a more realistic and mature worldview. With the foreign phrase ‘ciao’ as his new “goodbye word,” Ezra is recognizing his growing awareness of the world around him, in addition to his growing acceptance that this harsh world is the reason why peace is further and further away from him. Indeed, Ezra is “growing up,” but he is also being forced to trade in his optimistic ideas for somber ones—which may be a side of adulthood that he is not fully prepared to embrace.
As the layers of this seemingly straightforward anecdote are stripped away, a complicated tale of misguided aspiration and routine disappointment becomes the evident center of this tweet. Ezra describes himself—or a fictionalized version of himself—as a “simple man” who practices a relatable daily routine that consists of rudimentary actions. The intensely mundane tone of his narration, however, suggests that his existence is lacking something essential to his happiness. Ezra is stuck in a cycle of repetition that has no clear end in sight, and like many people who experience the same frustration, he has started to settle for this cycle as a normal way of life. He presents this uninspiring lifestyle through heavy instances of symbolism: charging his phone as a way of getting his hopes up, immediately draining it as he experiences more of the same predictability, and ultimately ending with a sole desire to “go to sleep,” only so he can repeat it the next day. Here, Ezra represents us all: anxious human beings that yearn for fulfillment, yet feel trapped within the constraints of our own damaged concepts of normalcy.
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Indecisiveness is a virus that can often plague us all, inhibiting boldness and acting as a catalyst of self-doubt. By pointing out the circumstantial conditions that are composed in order to avoid difficult decision-making, Ezra blatantly forces people to evaluate the extent to which they do this in their own lives. It is undeniable that at times, fatigue and overstimulation can certainly hinder logical decision-making, and Ezra is correct to remind us of this. However, to continually blame indecisiveness on being tired or on being preoccupied is to enter into the dangerous territory of prolonged unproductivity. Ezra’s exact presentation of this advice is crucial to its effectiveness: he parallels this pattern of ongoing deliberation with an ongoing sentence containing an increasingly obvious presence of avoidance and procrastination. He is not critical of those who fall into this cycle, though—he is understanding. Although this tweet wisely urges readers to overcome severe indecisiveness, it does this in a way that encourages them to responsibly distinguish between the times when “ur tired” and the times when ur simply finding ways to avoid the decision-filled reality that is human life.