On March 4th, I tweeted for the 10,000th time. 10,000 times. This means that there have been 10,000 times I have taken to either my phone or computer and shot off some frivolous statement or responded to some frivolous statement packaged in 140 characters or less. 10,000 fucking times. I can’t help but wonder how many hours or weeks or days of my life compose those 10,000 times.
Tweeting 10,000 times feels like more like a failure than a milestone.
Over the years, I have developed a symbiotic love/hate relationship with this social media channel. I feel like a powerless clingy girlfriend who keeps convincing herself she will give her mate space only to retract her conviction after a short hiatus. I’ll spend entire afternoons away from my phone, unchained from reading everyone’s minuscule thoughts. I treasure that conscious abandonment.
But, then, the hours in a Tuesday afternoon will crawl by and I will check my timeline countless times in one hour, binging on people’s sentiments about the NFL draft or Beyonce’s latest single. I know I do not care about these things but, somehow, it feels like I should. Twitter dictates what is newsworthy. It decides whether or not you should listen to Justin Timberlake’s new album (yes), how hideous Anne Hathaway’s Oscar dress was (very) and who won that first Romney/Obama debate (Romney, sadly.)
I banter back and forth with my friends about upcoming plans for the weekend and I question why I can’t just text them instead. Sometimes, my friends will be in the middle of a story about their ridiculous coworker and I’ll respond, “Oh, yeah, I saw your tweet” and I suddenly feel like I took a conversational bottle of Dasani and watered down our chat. I am no longer bound to a response of shock or laughter or amusement because I have digital premonitions.
Twitter is how I started a four month non-relationship that broke my heart in the smallest way. It began with casual jokes tossed back and forth as we mentioned each other in tweets, continued with favoriting one another’s subtweets, and soon ventured into the world of direct messages. How 140 character messages convert to romps in bed is still a concept that is completely beyond me. It now seems silly, almost pointless, that something that was once so palpable began on a fucking computer screen. It drenches the meaning of it the same way a tattoo of your favorite quote etched on your side lessens the substance of the words.
But, as much as I want to loathe Twitter, it has been just as good to me as it has been all too consuming. It is presumably the most effective channel I use to publicize my blog posts. It has connected me to a dynamic tribe of writers who keep me inspired, encouraged, and insatiable. It was the first outlet I used to learn of the Sandy Hook tragedy. It provided me with the most effortless way to keep in touch with friends and family when I was living in Massachusetts and Texas. Perhaps that is why I am committed to my digitized boyfriend in ways I don’t quite understand.
I covet the moments whether it be brunch with friends or a staff meeting with coworkers or dinner with my parents where I can soak up human interaction. Nothing substitutes talking to another person, exchanging glances and laughter and questions, and living your life in real time. Maybe it’s just too tragic that we now exist in a world where we have to consciously and consistently force those moments instead of receiving them by default.