After some internal struggle, I reactivated my Twitter account. Mostly I follow other writers, as well as literary agents and publishing houses. (I may or may not also be following three out of four members of Mötley Crüe, but let me assure you that this is totally above board and completely necessary.) I don’t engage in Twitter fights, or most hashtag shenanigans. I also get FREE BOOKS by paying attention to various giveaways taking place in my stream. So thus far, it’s been a mostly satisfactory and drama-free experience.
But my previous observations of Twitter (and this extends to “social networking” in general) still stand. The vast majority of people who use these sites seem to be recreating their middle school years. Drilling down into the bowels of Twitter, one finds numerous people who fit into the category of “Really Ought To Know Better.” Attention whores abound on Twitter: they’re the folks who post oblique, loaded statements and wait for the ensuing cavalcade of sympathetic responses. Overall, there are a lot of virtual temper tantrums, pissing matches among the incontinent, popularity contests, and veiled jabs. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous politics of “following back.”
It’s a culture of “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOKITLOOKITLOOKIT” and in my way I am just as guilty as anyone else. I mean, I have a blog, a Facebook page and now – again – a Twitter presence. In having any one of these things there is an implicit need to connect. But there’s a danger of being unhealthily connected, of taking a series of characters across the screen too seriously, of mistaking late night online exchanges with real intimacy, of looking to a bunch of virtual strangers for validation, approval, and “love.” That’s not to say that one can’t forge real friendships or find real community out there. I’ve experienced that, to be sure, but I have also fallen into the wormhole more than once and suffered for having done so.
Knowing all of this, I have rejoined the ranks of Twitter. I will retweet funny statements from the likes of Paul Feig and George Takei (and honestly, that guy’s a superstar and arguably the one reason why EVERYONE should have a Twitter account). I will engage with the aforementioned writers and literary agents in the hopes of forging connections. If the topic proves amusing and smacks of more advanced wordsmithing, I may even play some of your reindeer hashtag games.
But I’m not gonna feed anyone’s emotional tapeworm, and I’m not gonna expect anyone to do the same for me.
With that understanding in place, I think I should do just fine.