The Sting of the Tweet

I joined Twitter in 2012.

My first followers were Marcus Lush and Ali Ikram, only because I followed them first. But they were my first.

“What is this place?” I thought, so different from the Friends Reunited format of Facebook, where your pending friend request to your former lover/friend would sit unanswered for two months until you were shamefully forced to withdraw into the shadows, confused and crying.

It took me a while to understand the rules of engagement. I thought that because I followed someone they’d endlessly want me to answer their tweets. Strangely, they didn’t. Several incarnations of my Twitter account occurred as I tried to negotiate why I was even here.

Was it because Facebook had started to suck so badly? With its “Feed My Aquarium” ethos and “Share This, And If You Don’t I’ll See And Know” clientele, I was looking for something more dynamic and diverse. I’d exhausted my supply of old friends and relatives, and once we’d all caught up and done a silent head-count of how many humans we’d all created and who was the most financially successful, Facebook stopped being so interesting. But also, Facebook always felt a little like being under a glaring spotlight.

Twitter, on the other hand, felt more like an anonymous rampage; it was up to you who to follow, you could see into their every thought, every meal, every weird, angled photo of their cat. It was all very contrived, but then so was I. I loved it.

The pace was very fast, blink and you’d miss, or retweet someone you admired to show everyone what you were into, or that you admired their material. Or them.

Soon I had one hundred followers. Why? I was just saying my thoughts, somewhat sub-edited to an acceptable level. Sometimes my tweets went unnoticed, other times someone would “take the bait”.

After a while, I noticed there were groups. There was a cool group. There was a literature group. There was the group from Wellington. They were mostly males; a little tight clique throwing around great gags about New Zealand politics or pontificating about a thing, using Twitter to spray around their man-musk and show those lesser stags all about who were the bosses of a 140 word argument application.

Then I noticed the Twitter wars. Like rising dust, I’d see what I came to understand as a “subtweet”, and I learned to react like a fly on shit and locate the original tweet, as if I had nothing else better to do with my day. I’d read endlessly.

Someone used the wrong word for something, and someone came at them with a correction; and I began to understand that Twitter was not only the proofing facility for all your freedom-of-speech needs, but a place where all the hopes, dreams and mostly fears of people came out and were heaped upon a singular Twitter being at any given time.

A few times I glanced over to Facebook. It was like watching an episode of the Good Morning Show, the one that used to feature Rod Cheeseman, “The Cheese”. Every now and then, Rod would look at the camera with a naughty, sexy, eye and I’d eye him back, until Astar came crashing into the room with her horrible, shitty creations. But ultimately these actions were scheduled and predictable. Like Facebook.

Twitter wasn’t predictable. One night I stayed up watching a group tear apart a person for their political beliefs. The replies were vile, and yet this same group had consistently positioned itself as the beacon of acceptance. Other times I heard about the Twitterati. Who were they? What did they eat?

I came to understand that they were a group of friends and peripherals on Twitter with simply the most gigantic sense of entitlement in the known universe.

I saw people who were in a genuine struggle receive individual messages of support, and even crowdfunding. I really think that these are the good Twitter people. No subtweeting, no entitlement; they give a heart fave without having a policy on heart faving.

Did you know some people won’t heart-fave? Get a fucking grip.

I’ve never seen such a place. It’s a place. I’m very grateful for Twitter, inc.

Where else would I capture my thirst needs, want to make a slow-cooked mild butter chicken and share my ragged soul?


Next time on The Sane Companion: can’t get thyme growing in winter? Wait until you see this seaweed/Rheineck life hack



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