"GUYS WHERE R ALL THE WORMS AT #worms #eatingworms #earlybirdgetstheworm #wormwednesday"
Whenever I try to catalog all the things I hate about Twitter, what usually tops the list is the fact that this website, which seems to have been solely designed for people who want to communicate one or two sentences to a wide audience whilst taking a shit, is now taken so seriously at every level of culture, media, and government that there’s pretty much no chance that it’s just a passing fad. We’re stuck with it. Twitter is important because we made it important. Shame on all of us.
I mean, look at broadcast news. You can turn on CNN and there’s Anderson Cooper sexily talking about some atrocity, and everything feels very somber and journalistic until suddenly he starts rattling off goofy Internet buzzwords that a couple of dorks in Northern California made up less than ten years ago:
“Over six million people were sexually assaulted by porcupines last year, a 14% increase from 2012. If you or someone you know was molested by a porcupine, you can contribute to our reporting by tweeting me at my handle @andersoncooper with the hashtag ‘porcupinerape.’ Throughout the day I’ll be retweeting the most relevant tweets as the hashtag continues to trend.”
If somebody from the 1990s – or for that matter, anyone during my junior year of high school – heard that, they’d probably think he was having an on-air stroke. Somebody call 911! That poor, beautiful man is saying nonsense words and making animal noises!
Except no, he isn’t – it’s almost 2014, and one of the main ways adults communicate now is through a bird-themed social network.
Over the past two years, at least half a dozen people have looked me square in the eye and said to me, with the intensity of a family member taking part in a tough-love intervention, “Truman. You need to start tweeting.”
And when I hear that, half of me immediately agrees, and appreciates the fact that this person is so invested in me and what I’m trying to do that they want to give me that sort of advice. But the other half of me – the half that lives in a ramshackle old house at the end of the street and refuses to let neighborhood kids play on its lawn – crosses his arms and grumbles something about how if Twitter was actually important it wouldn’t base most of its terminology off of the sounds birds make.
It’s because of my crotchety side that I pride myself on being a member of very few social networks. I compulsively photograph my food, but I’m not on Instagram – usually I just send the pictures to my mother, because we’re both foodies and I’d rather be a mama’s boy than a hipster. As an act of defiance I will never join Google+, no matter how much they ruin YouTube trying to make me change my mind. And because I’m not wedding crazy and female, Pinterest isn’t really my deal. I mostly just use Facebook because it gives me everything I’ve wanted in life: A captive audience to whom I can show articles from The Atlantic.
From where I’m sitting, Twitter looks like some bizarre attention-driven economy where several hundred million smartasses scramble to attract as many followers as possible in hopes of getting retweeted and favorited enough to draw even more followers. As popularity contests go, it’s even bigger than high school and only slightly smaller than the method by which the United States chooses its leaders. It’s a social network built entirely on shameless self promotion!
Unfortunately, the only ways to get ahead in Hollywood are shameless self promotion or being an extremely beautiful woman who everybody wants to have sex with. And because a Twitter account is considerably cheaper than a sex change:
My blog is proof that I am capable of having a thought, fleshing it out, and following it through to its logical (or illogical) conclusion over the course of 1000 or so words with some profanity and creepy comments about Alison Brie scattered throughout. But it doesn’t do me much good in Hollywood because nobody here wants to read 1000 words, I can’t provide an accurate accounting of how many readers I have, and even if I could that number would probably be less than 200, even though I’ve been doing this for six years now.
Personally, I don’t mind that at all – I actually prefer it. This blog lets me tell jokes and share personal anecdotes with a small group of people, some of whom I know quite well, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years, some of whom I’ve never met because they stumbled on this blog after Googling ‘hairy guys’ or something. It doesn’t matter to me that the vast majority of the Internet doesn’t have the attention span to read the shit I write, because most of the people whose opinions I really care about are already reading it.
But if I want to sway the opinion of someone who might be trying to decide whether he wants to pay me to write for him or not, I need to create a more attractive brand for myself than “Long Dense Updates; Few Fans.” And Twitter, where update length is strictly limited and attention has been turned into a carefully tracked commodity, is the perfect place.
One last time –
It’s the same shit you see here, except less volume and more frequency and it’s on your phone. Sometimes there will be pictures. I’ll probably call @SenRandPaul a dullard a few times. And while I pride myself on having written every single update on the blog stone cold sober, I make no such guarantee for my Twitter feed.
So know that it hurts my very soul to say this, but you all should follow me on Twitter. And retweet and favorite my tweets when you like them. And tag me, and hashtag me, and Follow Friday me, and Throwback Thursday me, and Tumblr me and Livejournal me, and shower me in emojis and fan me with Napsters and serve me steaming bowls of Usenet.
2014 is the year that I will make you all sick of me.
Truman Capps hopes regular tweeting makes up for his increasingly spotty update schedule.