A little over a year ago, I injured my back quite badly in a volleyball tournament and found myself bedridden for a prolonged period. At first this predicament was a dream come true, because who doesn’t love a good excuse to lounge around in bed all day reading and watching Netflix and claiming to be in too much pain to do anything productive? But after a few days cabin fever and boredom set in, and I figured it was as good a time as any to try to figure out this “Twitter” thing that the kids have been raving about for the past decade. At that point, I really didn’t understand Twitter. Most of my exposure to the world of Twitter was through news or gossip articles that would say something like “Katy Perry throws shade at Taylor Swift” and then would show a confusing screenshot of a rectangle with a bunch of obscure punctuation marks such as “@” and “#” thrown in amongst indiscernible abridged word salad. Maybe joining in would help me understand the appeal?
My first tweet was:
“Sprained back means I can’t sit or stand or walk or go to work, but I CAN finally try out this Twitter thing. #myfirstTweet”
Not too shabby! With my first useless tweet under my belt, I decided to start trying to say funny things, since that seemed to be the point of Twitter I guess? I followed up that same day with:
“Day 1 of bed rest: finished reading Angela’s Ashes. Day 2: watched Sophie’s Choice. Day 3: #BridalPlasty marathon, joined #Twitter. ”
I spent my first day on Twitter trying to figure out how things work and trying to rack up people to follow, which was fun and all, but also lead me down a rabbit-hole of celebrity-adding that really made no sense after a while. Eventually I somehow wound up reading a tweet by Drew Brees regarding the ice bucket challenge. I don’t even like football and barely know who Drew Brees is, and I thought the ice bucket challenge fad was stupid. But I also liked the idea that maybe this Twitter thing could do some good in the world, and maybe I could do my little bit to contribute, so I obeyed Football God Drew Brees and retweeted his call for retweets. I’m not sure if I thought my one retweet would make a difference, since obviously Drew Brees could cough up $10K without my assistance, but maybe it felt nice to be a part of something? Who knows. Almost immediately I freaked out like the Twitter-idiot that I am and started wondering if I was doing stuff correctly. Help, internet! I Tweeted about my confusion, my friend replied by saying I was doing fine, which just confused me more, and I put the Twitter away for a couple days.
I tried again a couple days later by posting a random link about the guy from the Trivago commercials.
(Side note: I have a friend who occasionally messages me to tell me about Trivago guy, indicating that he makes her think of me, hinting at the fact that at some point we must have had a conversation about him where I presumably went on a rant about him. I have no recollection of this original conversation, which makes me feel like a crappy friend.)
I guess I decided that Twitter might be where I post stuff that I find amusing but that was even too trivial for Facebook posts? After these first few days, I failed to really get into the whole Twitter thing, and I was able to get out of bed again, so I put it all away for a few days, having learned pretty much nothing.
A month or so passed, and one day I realized my true Twitter calling: Hastag Activism. This was the one bit of twitter culture that didn’t seem like a complete waste to me. This is what really drew me to check it out in the first place. Every now and then, some news article refers to a hashtag being used to spread change. The most famous, perhaps, was #bringbackourgirls, the plea to save kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, which is horribly depressing, but the ones that most intrigued me were the ones that could be both productive and funny, such as #foxnewsfacts, created by Birmingham residents hilariously crying out against Fox News’ completely false allegation that the city had all-Muslim no-go zones. The one that sucked me in was #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory, which was being used yb concerned citizens in response to a Colorado school board that was weighing the idea of whitewashing advanced American history classes to be more patriotic (and implicitly less factual). Hashtag activists flocked to Twitter to make up whitewashed American history facts, and I decided to join them with a couple Tweets of my own:
“The Johnstown Flood was just a bunch of friendly rich people giving the poor a free bath. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory”
“‘Separate But Equal’ ensured that everyone in American got a top-notch education. #JeffCoSchoolBoardHistory”
I also went a little trigger-happy with retweeting the ones from other people that I really like. I don’t know why I did this, honestly. Maybe I just got swept up in the moment. It’s not like anyone reads my Tweets, so who did I think I was reaching out to? I dunno. But it felt good. I then got a little more carried away, because this issue was bothering me so much, and I threw up a couple more tweets, this time posting links about the actual school board in question. Then I stopped and looked around and realized that I was becoming obsessive, and had no audience, which made me feel like a crazy person.
I joined in on one more trending hashtag shortly thereafter, in response to a Jeopardy category called “What Women Want” that listed shit like “vacuum cleaners!” and “comfy jeans!” as their questions/answers. Old school sexism? Not in my house!
“‘I’ll take #whatwomenwant for 200, Alex.’ ‘A clean house, a satisfied husband, and lots of shoes!’ ‘What are outdates stereotypes?'”
Then something magical happened. My tweet showed up here, on the legitimately famous pop culture blog A.V. Club, as an example of the internet being outraged about something outrageous. It was one of the proudest moments of my life! Then one or two people wrote random (maybe angry?) shit to me about shoes that made no sense. And the 15 minutes of fame ended pretty much there.
I’ll be honest. It’s been a year, and I still don’t really get the appeal of Twitter. I like using full sentenced and fleshing out my thoughts with maximum clarity, and Twitter is the opposite of that. I thought that maybe Twitter would force me to work on my brevity skillz, but that skillset never really developed. Instead, pretty much the only use I ever get out of Twitter is to succinctly badmouth someone or something in the news that I do not like. And as much fun as that is, it doesn’t really serve much purpose besides making me feel a tiny surge of douche-fueled power that doesn’t seem healthy. So I think I’ll just kinda stop. I’ll keep the account around in case I ever discover some newfound value in it, but otherwise, goodnight Twitter fad, and hello Blogging fad.
In the meantime, here’s a compilation of my mean tweets: