|There ain't [sic] no good guy. There ain't [sic] no bad guy. There's [sic] only you and me, and we just disagree.|
My cyber-relationship of almost five years with Judge Alex Ferrer has always been of a somewhat tenuous nature. For starters, anyone who is not certifiably insane -- and, despite what a few relatives and divas for whom I've provided piano accompaniment may say about me, I have both of my feet planted relatively firmly on solid ground -- knows that a relationship that consists of exchanging brief communications via social media does not constitute a bona fide relationship. Cyber friends can in some situations turn into real friends, and have done so in at least a couple of cases in my life*, but largely, a mentally healthy person builds his or her actual life around those into whose physical presence he or she comes.
Still, communicating with Judge Alex via the Twitter has on occasion helped me through rough spots in life . I assume I would have made it through most of those rough spots with or without the the occasional metaphorical pat on the head from the judge, especially since the most traumatic aspects of my life were things I did not share with the judge or with anyone else on Twitter. Still, Judge Ferrer was kind enough to offer words of encouragement or humor from time to time, and those words did on occasion give me the strength and courage to go out into the world and brave one more day of that often ugly period in one's life known as adolescence. For that I am most grateful.
Psychologist and behaviorist B. F. Skinner, building upon the earlier work of physiologist Ivan Pavlov, categorized forms of reward, which we all remember from Psychology 101. In short, reinforcement systems as described by Skinner could be categorized as fixed ratio ( the provision of reinforcement after a specific number of responses), fixed interval (the provision of reinforcement after a specified amount of time), variable ratio (the provision of reinforcement after an indeterminate or even random number of responses), or variable interval (the provision of reinforcement after an indeterminate or random period of time).
While Judge Ferrer obviously did not create an application on his iphone designed specifically to track my tweets and his replies, it became apparent that his replies to my tweets were based very casually upon a reinforcement schedule falling somewhere between fixed ratio and fixed interval. After noticing X number of tweets from me, or after realizing that he hadn't acknowledged anything I had tweeted him in a given period of time, he would eventually tweet a response. Other factors, including just how busy he was in his real life at a given time, just how busy his overall tweeting life was at a given moment in time, or just how pertinent a particular tweet or set of tweets might or might not have been, also figured into the formula.
I tweeted a brief version of this to my cyber-friend Jaci. I looked for the tweets because I wished to reference something here that was cited there, but I could not find them though it was probably less than two hours ago that they were sent. Twitter is a fickle media in that regard. Perhaps Jaci deleted the original tweet to which my tweets were mere responses. that may have caused them to disappear. Then again, perhaps the Twitter fairy removed them, or perhaps they merely disappeared into the ether. Regardless, I refuse to lose sleep over the situation.
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, according to Kerry Livgren of 70's rock band Kansas, and scientists will tell you, for that matter, that odds are against even the Earth and sky lasting forever. Still, it's a sad time when anything that brought you happiness comes to an end. I hope this dissolution, termination, or whatever one might call it with Judge Ferrer, is merely a hiatus and not the actual end.
*I would never have met Becca without our respective connections to Judge Alex, and for that, I extend my gratitude to him.