Guys. I want to talk to you about Twitter. I want to talk to you about it because despite Twitter being around for 9 years and being a major news and media content generator, not to mention the source of most of the (ahem, stolen) jokes you see on Tumblr, Buzzfeed, The Chive, and other Internet shitholes for idiots*, a lot of people I know refer to it dismissively by saying it’s boring, narcissistic or pointless.
To which I say: oh, fuck off.
First of all, as with any Internet experience, Twitter is what you make of it. If you only follow the kinds of basic bitches you know from high school/Facebook/Pinterest, then yes, Twitter probably seems really boring and pointless. Likewise, if you follow narcissists who tweet about their boring, pointless lives incessantly, then Twitter probably seems really narcissistic to you. But this is entirely up to you. I didn’t remain Facebook friends with narcissists, racists or conservatives because I didn’t enjoy my experience when I was. So I deleted them. You can do the same thing on Twitter. Stop focusing on the people you don’t like and start focusing on the people you do. Even if you don’t know them.
My Twitter experience improved a bazillion-fold when I got over myself and started seeking out funny people – comedians, writers, regular humans clicking on their phones at work or in bars or on the toilet. It didn’t matter that these people didn’t know me and (for a long time) weren’t interested in anything I was saying. I don’t blame them. I recently downloaded my Twitter archive and aside from my very first tweet (something about Tori Spelling’s boobs) and live-tweets of Top Gun, Tombstone, and The Saint (which, to be fair, should be credited partially to Brennan, who was there for each one and is much funnier than me), a whole lot of what I said between 2010 and 2014 was completely unfunny to an almost embarrassing degree. I mean, I get what I was trying to do, but I was trying so obviously that the only thing hilarious about it was my absolute failure at it. At one point I even @’d Aziz Ansari (for some reason?), and when I re-read it recently, it sounded condescending. Which would be added to the list of things that give me full-body cringes before I go to sleep at night, except that list is already really long and reserved for things like, say, interrupting my first real kiss by blurting out “Wait, what is HAPPENING right now?”
So I wasn’t funny, partially because I wasn’t really following any funny people. I was hardly following anyone. I had this insane idea that people would just magically find me and start following, and I never had to reciprocate or interact. I may not admit this much but I am emphatic when I do, so I’d like you all to know that in this respect, I WAS VERY WRONG. I didn’t get funnier until I started following people who were, and actually made an effort to scroll down my feed to see what people were saying. If you want to be a musician, you have to listen to a lot of music. If you want to be a writer, you have to read a lot of writing. If you want to be a funny jackass on the Internet, you’re going to have to follow a lot of funny jackasses on the Internet.
Another thing I hear from people about Twitter is that no one cares what anyone says on it. Which, um, maybe not for you, but I’m pretty comfortable with my number of followers and the stars and retweets I get, as well as the fact that I have made genuine fucking friends with people with fake fucking names on a silly fucking Web site. These are people who have reached out to cheer me up when my feelings were hurt, or who have defended me to pissbaby MRAs, or who have just been really kind to me, as person who amounts to a stranger. And I’ve done the same for them with encouragement, commiseration, or links to legal assistance for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
I’ve met people from Twitter in real life, too, and for two people who have never before seen each other’s faces, there’s an immediate conversational rhythm and…relationship shorthand, I guess? Just like your real friends, guys! Twitter friends are every bit as real to me and at least a few times a week, I am so fucking glad that I got my act together and started being better at it. Yes, admittedly, being on Twitter in the beginning feels a lot like shouting obscenities into an empty universe. But all that shouting will eventually be heard, and by the time it is, you’ll be all shouted out and finally able to hold an actual conversation with someone and make a fucking friend.
And I’ll tell you this – for a person who finds it hard to have conversations with people, Twitter is the best for conversations. 140 characters or less is a terrific way to filter all the shitty thoughts out and make you focus on the most efficient way to be hilarious and cool. (Some) people on Twitter think I’m way fucking cooler than I am in real life, and I owe all of that to the character limit, small avi (I’m getting really into my mid-30s forehead crease, btw), and constantly moving feed limiting the amount of damage I am capable of doing with my stupid brain and even stupider mouth.
One of the very best Twitter features is one that didn’t exist when I signed up. The mute option is a fucking godsend as far as I’m concerned, as it doesn’t bring down the hammer of blocking someone, but just turns their volume all the way down, removing any mention of them from your TL or feed. That way, you don’t have to speak to them and aren’t in danger of accidentally liking something they say, thus started the whole cycle over again. Just like in real life (and Facebook, and everywhere else on the Internet because this is the kind of world we live in), you have the power to remove the people you don’t want in your life. You can ignore them. You can tell them no. They don’t have to affect you anymore. Isn’t that magical?
As much as I am a fan of talking shit (and I am the biggest fan of talking shit), I at least choose my topics wisely. I don’t talk shit on things that aren’t, and Twitter is definitely not shit. So show up. Bring your A-game. Shout wisely. No hashtags.
*Full disclosure – I have a Tumblr. But I refuse to reblog any text posts because they’re blatantly stolen from Twitter users.