31 Day Writing Challenge Day 4: “I love/hate Twitter because…”
I sat on a plane in March and wrote a blog post entitled, “My Frayed And Codependent With Twitter.” At the time, I was slightly perturbed that I had reached 10,000 tweets–a fact that felt both foolish and absurd. Since then, I am now somewhere in the 17,000 tweet stratosphere, but I stopped letting the number worry me, the same way couples quit tallying their arguments. The amount of times I’ve tweeted is now (and probably always was) inconsequential, especially because Twitter has brought me more good than harm.
Twitter, like most forms of social media, is a bit of an alternate universe. But, what makes it even more odd than say Facebook is that it’s a space to connect with friends and strangers alike. It is odd, almost abominable, to friend someone on Facebook who you don’t know. But, following a complete stranger on Twitter? Not a problem. Last night, my phone buzzed, alerting me that Jamilah Lemieux, a bit of a demigod in the print media world, had replied to one of my tweets. Jamilah doesn’t know me for jack shit; but with the potency of social media, I was able to connect with one of my writer idols.
In fact, in the months since I first penned the post about my codependent relationship with Twitter, I’ve connected with many more writers thanks to the microblogging tool. Likewise, my work has been able to reach more people. Twitter is prime for sharing content and I’d venture to guess that at least 85 percent of the articles and blogs I read cross my path via someone’s tweets. I spend most days with my mind on overdrive, mentally munching on bits of information that come to me in 140 characters or less, typically with a hyperlink to something else. Many of the ideas I get for my posts are hidden in tweets, someone saying either something that I completely respect or completely disagree with, prompting me to expel my response on my blog.
So, that is the love part.
If there is a hate part, it is that Twitter has given everyone a microphone to say whatever the hell they want. And, let’s face it: some people don’t need to get on the mic. They should stay backstage and help with sound check. I’ve learned to take pretty much everything said on Twitter with a grain of salt, eventually reaching the conclusion that some words are said for entertainment only. It is the perfect platform for attention–whether you’re a woman looking for a guy to compliment you on your looks (cue the flood of selfies with subtle cleavage) or if you’re a guy looking to piss off a lot of people with chauvinistic musings.
Of course, there’s always truth in humor, but the people who have amassed thousands of followers know how to tweet purely for entertainment. Some days, reading my timeline is like sitting front row at a stand-up performance. These online comedians have their audience down to a science, fully aware that if they say something controversial, sexist or disgusting, they will incite the exact response they’re seeking. Those digital diatribes are less real and more theatrical.
In the end, Twitter, like any form of social media, provides only a unilateral display of a person. You do not get the nuances, tone, or facial contortions. You do not know always know the multi-layered story behind why they are tweeting both incessantly and cryptically about being hurt. You only get the most microscopic view, a view that is far too limited in scope to allow you to make assumptions or jump to conclusions, even though that is what we all do.
Most people’s lives seem utterly amazing on social media. Of course, I’ll post the pictures of me chilling at a wine festival or lying on a beach, linking my Instagram account to my Facebook and Twitter and giving the impression that I do really cool shit all the time. The truth is, I spend many weekends in my overpriced apartment eating Chipotle, reading and binging on globs of terrible television. These activities just don’t lend themselves to self-absorbed photography like the others. But, we can get so caught up in these seemingly perfect digital narratives that we forget we’re all still people with debt, insecurities and some days, utterly ordinary and mundane lives.