As Andrew Luck walked away from the game of football this week—mostly to preserve his health after seven years of playing the sport professionally—I couldn’t help but wonder what the reaction would have been if during his retirement press conference, Luck cited his desire to tweet more as a reason for walking away. That’s not exactly what Magic Johnson did to the Lakers earlier this year, but it’s pretty close! It may feel like a lifetime ago for the Lakers (and the rest of us), but an actual thing that happened in 2019 was Magic Johnson abruptly giving up his title as Lakers president, in some small part because he wanted to be able to tweet about NBA players without repercussions from the league.
Johnson, of course, was pretty heavily mocked in the wake of his bizarre, impromptu resignation announcement, in which he kept the energy of someone who had just been released from a tense hostage situation. Of course Magic wants to tweet more! Let’s round up all his dubious takes and show people what they’ve been missing!, the internet basically offered in the aftermath of Magic’s resignation. Well, reader, in the months since he’s decided to step away from the NBA, Johnson has been tweeting whatever the hell he wants, and he seems to be living in a plane of existence every single person who thinks his social media is goofy should aspire to.
It’s hard to write a defense of Magic Johnson’s Twitter account without sounding tongue-in-cheek, or without furthering the idea that Johnson’s online presence is a joke and should be treated as such. So I want to be very clear: Magic Johnson’s Twitter account is incredible. He is not beholden to the same standards of taste created within some elite media bubble that determines what is a good or bad tweet. Magic is extremely online without the brain rot that comes with seeing a funny clip during a sporting event and instinctively wondering how that clip could be used to achieve viral fame.
Stick with me for a second. (I guess if you’ve made it this far it would be weird if you bailed now anyway.) The world in 2019 is a pretty hopeless place. Last week, as a form of entertainment, I watched a 25-minute “comedy” show on Netflix about the opioid crisis in America and the looming danger of another superdrug. This week, the president apparently wants to send a nuclear bomb into the middle of a hurricane…??? I honestly don’t even know. The point is, nearly wherever you turn, especially online, you’re walking right over a landmine that reminds you how fragile the foundation of our crumbling society is.
Magic is completely removed from all of that. Granted, part of the reason he can live so blissfully unaware is because he’s wildly rich, and when the rest of us are basically living on the Snowpiercer train in 15 years in hopes of securing clean water for our children, Johnson will still be vacationing on a yacht. But it’s honestly refreshing how much Magic loves Twitter while simultaneously having incredibly little use for the conventions set forth by the people who talk about his tweets the most.
Johnson’s tweets are a safe haven. Usually, when you’re talking about a 60-year-old’s social media usage, you’re discussing how they fell for the latest Instagram hoax, or how they spread obvious misinformation on Facebook, or how they were obviously the people Russia was targeting when they interfered with our last presidential election. Magic uses Twitter the way we feared our parents’ generation would use social media when they first signed up, but that’s actually a good thing.
The man just wants to share lists about his favorite musicians or movies. He wants to celebrate basketball players he enjoys watching. He wants to share completely benign, 100% inconsequential opinions that are prisoners to specific moments without thought or fear of how those opinions will look years from now. And that’s honestly wonderful.
In my experience, largely the same people who draw the most hilarity from Magic’s Twitter account—the people who are judging his tweets the most harshly—are the same group who care way too much about their own posts. And I don’t mean care too much as in the, “let me not post something offensive“ way. I mean care too much in the sense that there are people firing off tweets who spend a solid eight minutes before hitting send thinking hard about whether the language they’ve used has achieved maximum virality.
I know these people exist because I’m one of them. I will make a friend read over a tweet to gauge the reaction I’ll receive from my adoring fans. Every time I hit send, I’m either hoping for 2,000 retweets or a fave from my Instagram crush. Otherwise it wasn’t worth it. (Basically 99.9% of my tweets haven’t been worth it.)
That’s why I love the earnestness of Magic’s Twitter account. There’s no agenda. There’s no pretension. I’m definitely ascribing way too much to this one man’s social media usage. Maybe it’s because it’s late August, nothing is happening in the NBA otherwise, and I desperately need to log off and take a vacation. Or maybe it’s because the fires raging in Los Angeles this week somehow compare to the figurative hell awaiting every time you try to use the internet in 2019.
All I’m saying is, Magic walked away from his very high pressure job on his own terms to live life how he sees fit. He lives a largely inoffensive lifestyle while still saying whatever he wants without having to think too hard about whatever he’s going to say next. Whenever Magic tweets, I’m not sure I ever laugh. I feel jealous.