“Just stop tweeting!”
You know that saying “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” (which may or may not be said by Abraham Lincoln)…does that apply to Twitter? You’d think on the face of it when considering that quote, there’s three types of twitter account: the good, the bad and the silent. The silent, far from being given any kind of intellectual benefit of the doubt, are simply ignored. Shame on you egg avatar! Have a “good” twitter account and you’re smart, funny, influential (or you’re Kim Kardashian and spend all day tweeting about salads you never eat because you’re getting paid to do it). Have a “bad” twitter account and at best you look a bit thick. At worst, you lose your job and/or the whole world thinks you’re a terrorist.
Now, obviously there’s a common sense level of twitter-savvy. For example, if you one day post a picture of you outside Microsoft saying “My office lololol” and the next day you say “OMG BILL GATES SUCKS!!11! ROFL!!” – well, you’re asking to get fired really, aren’t you? That basic level of carefulness covered however, what’s overshare? Is there such a thing?
I guess you have to ask what is the actual purpose of Twitter. It seems that shouting your message from the rooftops is inviting to everyone. We get to see Kelly Osbourne twitting pictures of herself looking rough in her pyjamas (presumably because she thinks she looks thin), Marks and Spencer inform us of meal deals we can’t buy because they’re not vegan and Kim Kardashian eats another sponsored salad. I’ve probably seen more pictures of Peaches Geldof’s baby that grandpa Bob has. Beneath the celebu-spawn and glittering lol-telligensia, there are thousands and thousands of clever and witty individuals and an extra zillion average Joe Bloggs sending their little snippets on every topic imaginable in to the ether.
I’ve been on twitter for over three years and spouted over 30,000 self-important tweets. I’ve had to put my account on to private because I just tweet without thinking. In normal life, I’m the kind of person that immediately changes the moment they know they’re being watched. When the big cheese at my work strolls down the corridor, I instinctively sit bolt upright in my chair and frantically scrabble to remember what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing. I can’t talk to people’s parents because I mumble and pause and the awkwardness kills me. There are so few people in my life that I actually feel comfortable talking with that to the other people I know, I probably seem really aloof or painfully socially inept. All I can say is, yo, I probably am.
So enter twitter. Everyone and nobody all at once. Obnoxious little comment lol 140 char, SEND. Wow, that was fun. Oh wait, I’ve thought of something EVEN MORE obnoxious and stupid to say…type, type, type, SEND. Oooh now that person said that girl looked fat, lol out loud, RETWEET. Hey, who cares, no one knows me on here right? There’s something so inexplicably pleasant about submitting your thought in to the universe. I think it’s a three-fold thing. Firstly, sticking it in an electronic envelope and mailing it to cyber space gets it out of your head, next it’s like texting your bff without you even having to have one. Wow, social interaction without sociability or intereaction! Truly a 21st century invention. Lastly, there’s a tiny subconscious part of you that thinks “herrr someone might find this funny”. Or maybe that last part doesn’t ever come.
My problem is in the spur of the moment, when I’m tweeting this non-existent bff the stuff that is actually in my head, I forget that it’s being broadcast to the whole world (or my few hundred followers at least as my profile’s on private). The catharticism, untrue anonymity and blissful brevity of twitter means my usual unintentional falseness, the falseness that comes with the face to face interaction, is gone. That kind of scares me when I dwell on it. Real people reading my twitter? Dear God, please no.
I learnt an interesting and relevant word the other day: “Dooce”. It’s the name of a blogger but now it’s also a verb (e.g. “Have you ever been Dooced?”) and it means to get in trouble for something that you’ve blogged about. I’ve never been dooced about something on my blog, hell I’ve only been here a few months, but have I ever got in trouble for something I’ve tweeted? Abso-frickin-lutely.
So I’ve been twitter dooced by my ex-boyfriend. Many times. It was actual a real problem in our relationship. Things I didn’t even notice I’d said and certainly didn’t think he’d even read would make him furious. The less said there the better really. All I’ll say is: there’s a reason you go and bitch to your real life bff about your boyfriend.
I’ve also been the twit-doocer. My step-sister is a naïve and carefree teen. She’s meek and polite in person but on twitter she’s a belligerent potty mouth. Firstly, she’s foolish enough to use her actual full name on twitter and her account is public. I mean, seriously? School boy error, love. See basic level of twit-savvy above. Secondly, she’s written very mean things about my dad on there, she’s published her phone number, said she’s done drugs…wtf? I remember one time we went to a restaurant and someone asked her “Do you smoke?” and she’s like “Ohhh no, of course not”. Mere months later, she is posting pictures of the hundreds and hundreds of cigarettes she bought in an airport in Africa. So she’s either lying to us real-lifers about not smoking or lying to the innernets about the fact she does smoke. Why? Why would you do that?
Once, I had a car that I was selling and my dad told me she was interested in buying it. I told her the price and left it at that. Later, I went on to twitter and she had tweeted that she had bought my car and that it was “shit”. Well, that’s fair enough. If it’s your car, you’re entitled to call it shit but it’s not really your car until you pay me, sweetie. So weeks go by and I’m patiently waiting to be paid. Then I get fed up and text my dad asking when I’m going to get my money. He replied “Oh, I don’t think she ever wanted it.”. Well, twitter seems to disagree! I just think that’s such a silly thing to lie about. She’s also done things that really niggle me like posting a picture of my cat saying it’s hers. Why lie? Seriously, what’s the point? I know you’re a teenager and teenagers do stupid things but really? You’re lying about a cat?!
I have to cut her some slack, obviously, because she’s a teen. I lied about drinking and boys and god knows what else when I was that age too. We didn’t have twitter then. Facebook hadn’t even been invented. That’s really for the best, I think. I say stupid stuff on twitter now, that’s definitely true. I wouldn’t straight-out lie though. What’s the point? I don’t know the internets. I’m not trying to impress anyone.
So I guess you’re sat there thinking “well just watch your mouth and leave people to say what they want”, aren’t
Or put this guy as your wallpaper.
you? Watching your mouth is easier said than done. Given my inability to act like a normal person in real life and given that twitter is effectively broadcasting yourself to the whole world, if I were to only tweet what I’d be happy for the whole world to hear, (you know: my nan, the Queen, my boss, Harrison Ford, my mum), I don’t think I’d ever tweet at all.
So maybe the old “Better to remain silent…” adage is right if you’re able to give up twitter – there’s no point in being silent and staying. If you can’t give it up completely however, like all things, it’s about learning the fine art of moderation. Like any normal human being. You probably didn’t even need to read this to know that. I, however, had to write this to discover it.
Man, I hate being a grown up.