Tiptoeing Toward Twitter

I joined Twitter in 2008 and probably logged in four times between then and about two weeks ago. At the urging of a friend, I recently reengaged with the app, and I’ve become a pretty zealous user. It took me a long time (six years, it would seem) to recognize the advantage Twitter has over Facebook.

The primary advantage for a foul mouthed asshole like myself is that the people on Twitter are more accepting of profanity than my Facebook friends. Partly this is because they don’t actually know me as a real person, whereas my Facebook friends are people I’ve met and humanly interacted with. While some of them are fully aware of my cursing habits, some are not. My 101 year old grandmother is on Facebook, and this causes me to censor both the subject of my Facebook statuses, and my vocabulary. I’m sure she doesn’t think I’m a saint (she's old, not stupid), but I don’t know that she realizes how really fucking profane I am.

I don’t love the 140 character restriction. If you’ve spent any time over here at all (or if I’ve commented on a blog post of yours) you may gather that brevity is not my greatest strength. This is undeniably true. You would be excused for thinking that I get paid by the word and/or that as long as I have something to say, I will continue to live (which means I am clearly immortal because I never shut up. I suspect it’s pretty much hell being married to me). Initially it was the 140 characters that was a deal breaker for me. When Facebook offered me 6000+ characters (although none of them could be combined in a pattern that would make them profane), why should I try to confine my thoughts to 140?

But then one day, when my children were being hideously obnoxious, and I was starting to give careful consideration to the pros and cons of incarceration on charges of murder (three meals a day that I didn’t have to cook, no requirement that I use Outlook or sit in a cubicle, the possibility that I might be granted the privilege of solitary confinement—which would mean peeing WITHOUT ANYONE SCREAMING “MOMMEEEEEEYYYYY WHERE ARE YOU!?!?!?!” from four rooms away), a thought occurred to me. “I never thought I’d say this” I tweeted, “But I love Twitter. I have somewhere to go where I can say my children are acting like SUCH ASSHOLES.” A love affair began.

It is possible, of course, for me to take advantage of Facebook’s post length by posting my more verbose updates on this blog’s Facebook page, which is  linked to Twitter (and which my grandmother also doesn’t know exists, so profanity is acceptable over there as well). But I often wonder how frequently people click through on those tweets. The first sentence has to be pretty a pretty solid hook or I’m sure people just ignore it. I try not to have more than one, or at most two, tweets a day link to Facebook.

Now I post my profanity-laced tidbits, and have discovered some fun side games. I had a good time with the “book/song mashup” hashtag (“Gone with the Dust in the Wind”) and had a great time with “less interesting books.” “Uncle Tom’s Condo.” “Indifferent George.” “The Legend of Sleepy Harold.” I know—I crack myself up. I wasn’t the only one with good ones on that either. Two of my favorites were, “Charlotte’s Web Browsing History,” and “The Scarlet Lecture,” both of which were titles I had tried unsuccessfully to do something with. “Bram Stoker’s Spatula” was pretty good too.

The things I don’t like about it are obviously not enough to keep me from using it pretty enthusiastically (I went from a handful of tweets to 800+ within about two weeks). But there are things that bother me about it. First, there are a few people that are a little strange. Some are awfully familiar, and others post tweets that indicate a possible lose screw. Or twelve. I’m a lifelong paranoid freak, and I have a few trust issues when it comes to strangers. That location thing is turned off, and on Twitter I try not to reveal any personally identifying information. No kid’s names, no landmark names (“Here I am at the Empire State Building, which is six blocks west and one block north of my apartment building, where I live on the third floor in the northeast corner!”), no significant details. There’s not even a real picture of me—it’s a cheesecake. Although for all anyone on Twitter knows, I am a cheesecake (you are what you eat, right?). With, you know, opposable thumbs. Granted, a really dedicated stalker could probably find me one way or another, but let me assure anyone who thinks they want to stalk me that I am really dull. Really dull.

I’m also a complete freak about correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I have a facial tic that kicks in when I see things things like “ur” and “u,” and it takes a lot of self-control on my part not to correct things like “him and me.” Don’t even get me started on “you’re” versus “your.” In composing my own tweets, if I can’t get the whole thought into 140 characters without using abbreviations common among fourteen year olds, or omitting too much punctuation, I’ll find something else to write.

My use of Twitter is for humor (given the serious and thoughtful nature of my output here, that comes as a shock, I know). As I am here, over there, I’m just looking to provoke a laugh. If you want inspiration, or even rational thought, I’m not your huckleberry. Want a laugh and have a slightly sick, twisted, sometimes dirty sense of humor? We’re going to get along fine. I’m not a philosopher. I’m not in business to make you feel better about yourself, or see the world as a shiny happy place. If that’s what you want there are tons of people out there who do just that. Oprah, for instance. In case you couldn’t tell, I am not Oprah.

Just to be clear, this is not a picture of me

There are a few people who follow me who I suspect will either stop shortly (or just “mute” me) because our perspectives are so radically different. Unless it’s meant sarcastically, shit like “No experience is ever wasted. Everything has meaning,” is not the sort of thing you’re going to read from me on Twitter. In fact, that kind of thing provokes serious eye rolls from me. (I actually tweeted about that very saying earlier--it read: "Seen on a coffee cup: 'No experience is ever wasted. Everything has meaning.' First thing that flashed into my mind: 'Seriously? Fuck you.'") If I wanted to read fortune cookie fodder, I’d buy a bag of fortune cookies. But I roll my eyes privately. Everyone uses social media in their own way. Live and let live.

Until about two days ago, my husband had no idea I was even on Twitter. He just happened to walk behind my computer at just the right moment. He knows about my Facebook obsession, of course, but hadn't a clue I was on Twitter. He gave me that look that says, "Seriously? It's come to this?" And I'd be embarrassed about it, except that later that evening I was sitting on the porch while he was watering the garden, and he was fiddling with his phone in the hand not holding the hose. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied, "Candy Crush." Seriously? It's come to this? I kind of felt like we both discovered the other was cheating, but there were no people involved--just applications.

So for now I’m having my fun with Twitter, and it may end up being something of a fad, but I’m pretty devoted to Facebook, so perhaps not. Sometimes I feel a little like I’m whispering into a hurricane, and no one is listening, but other times I get a response, so that’s OK. Plus it’s not like I’m producing nuggets of indispensable wisdom (see above about how I’m not Oprah). I read somewhere that 40% of all tweets on Twitter are classified as “pointless babble” (which seems a rather unkind, if accurate, description, but OK). I got the impression that the company making the announcement was a little surprised by this finding. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s only 40%. I mean, it is Twitter, for god’s sake. When our civilization is brought down and anthropologists sift through the smoldering rubble that’s what remains of our once proud society, and they stumble across Twitter, they’re not going to read the tweets by Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan and say, “Clearly, this was the repository for the wisdom generated by their finest thinkers; an elite assemblage of great minds sharing their insightful reflections on matters great and small.” But I do sort of hope they’ll be impressed with my offering of “Mastering the Art of French Verb Conjugations” to #lessinterestingbooks.

In case you wanted to swing by Twitter and check out my profane "pointless babble" I'm @qwertygirl.
The Facebook page for this blog is https://www.facebook.com/orangeandsilver


Unknown said...

I just tweeted that. I'm glad I inspired to to come over to the other side. I know the concept of twitter is weird & at 1st I was like why the hell would anyone join that but once I made the leap I found I love Twitter. I'm not big on FB. I'm on it, I recognize its power, but I really don't like it. Esp. b/c of what you said - you're connected to ppl who you should never be connected to on FB. My aunt befriended me & I'm like, "No, no befriending." Of course I had to accept, but I think there should be 2 separate FB's. 1 for family and 1 for friends. It's the only way.

Twitter is just for fun & it's funnier & more cynical. It's basically perfect.

As for the 40% being babble, 40% of life is babble so it's pretty representative.

Are you really Oprah but you're trying to convince everyone you're not Oprah? I'm sure that's exactly what Oprah would do.

Tracy said...

You can create lists on FB so if you want to post "Fucking the fucking fuckers" to your FB, you can make it so it's only visible to your cussin' friends, and not your aunt/grandma/kid's teacher, but it IS a pain in the ass. I've never bothered--I just don't swear on FB.

Twitter and FB have different uses in my mind. Both have their fun factors!

If Oprah is a 45 year old white woman with a flat ass and a glass of wine perpetually clutched in her fist, then yes, I AM Oprah. But don't tell anyone, K? THANKS!

Michelle said...

I love Twitter! I love it so much more than FB and for all the reasons you stated.

I was not enamored with the 140 character limit either, but what it has done is teach me to eliminate unneeded words..I believe it's actually helped me be a better writer.

Tracy said...

Agreed! It really does force you to get your thought across in the least possible number of words. It also forces you to think of alternative, shorter words to convey the same information. Actually a valuable exercise in many ways. I do find the fact that some of the abbreviations ("u" and "ur") creeping into "unconstrained" writing (emails, etc) to be annoying. If you're not working with a word constraint, those shortcuts should not be used, IMO. (Yes, I used "IMO" intentionally there :) ).

Sarah (est. 1975) said...


1. Sorry it took so long to comment. I am overwhelmed with Blog Business. OVERWHELMED I SAY!

2. I loved that you wrote this after our #SaturdayNightHaiku shenanigans. It took me 2x to spell out "shenanigans."

3. I just invited a bunch of friends to like your FB page!

Tracy said...

Sarah -

1. I feel ya! I keep coming to this office hoping to get some time to work on my blog and they want me to...work. WTF?

2. I too loved our time
Writing haikus and hanging
Fun Saturday night!

3. THANKS! I shall try to prove myself worthy of their attention! :)

Jana said...

Apparently, I do not hang with the cool kids on Twitter. I never knew that there were shenanigans and hashtag parties. I’m missing all the fun!

Tracy said...

Actually, it's a #Saturdaynighthaiku hashtag, and it's open to everyone. Sarah just happened to be on very late her time, and I was on at pathetic old person my time and we haikued. We're planning to do it again this Saturday, and all are welcome!