Tummlers

Yes, it saw the invention of cars, airplanes, and computers, but the 20th century will be remembered most for its chronic wars.

However, a sweet vestige to preserve from then is what’s known as the “tummler,” a term introduced to me by this article.

Jessamyn West, a librarian who was a moderator for 10 years at MetaFilter, said the job [moderating content on the internet] is like what Catskill entertainers of the mid-20th century called a tummler, “the person in the room who isn’t quite the M.C. but walks around and makes sure you’re doing OK.” Tummlers were basically professional minglers at shows and social gatherings. If you were feeling shy, they’d even help you strike up a conversation with other vacationers at the resort.

(Annalee Newitz, “We Forgot About the Most Important Job on the Internet,” NYTimes, 3-13-20)

Ms.Newitz points out in her article that persons who wrangle comments on today’s internet perform much-needed and varied functions, often needing trauma therapy for the ugliness they confront. However, she reminds us why we needed human moderators in the first place, as old-fashioned tummlers “helping us have a good time.”

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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