Being for Others – an Article of Bad Faith, or Why I am on Twitter

December 18, 2012 6:00 pm


Three years, eight months and twenty days ago is when twitter first entered my life.  That is when I began shouting my useless thoughts into a narcissistic void.  What impelled me to think the internet needed to know my innermost thoughts?  The question should rather be, who impelled me.  I can tell you the exact moment.

But first some background.  I used to like taking my camera with me everywhere.  I would ‘emotively document’ the minutia of my life.  This was before overuse of the iPhone destroyed any hope of being an actual photographer.

It was New Year ’s Eve.  I was meandering about when I caught somebody’s eye, looked at what camera she was using and paused long enough to note it was similar to mine.  The pause was long enough for it to be too awkward to move on, and I thought I would say something.  I said, “You caught me leering at your camera.  Is it a D60?”

Is this relevant?  Bear with me.  Everyone will have some such story as to what motivated them to join a social network.  This line was enough for her to draw a wry smile, and to talk back to me.  We talked about photography and exchanged Flickr accounts.  Later we were friends on Facebook.  She said something along the lines of, ‘Your wry humour would do well on Twitter’.  She was engaging and quite beautiful, and she ‘liked’ my photos regularly.  By then I was taken enough with this online friendship of shared hobbies to sign up.  I thought, what a perfect forum to satisfy my hungry ego.

140 characters later I had composed my first tweet.  It read ‘I’m awake watching a J-Lo music vid while signing up to Twitter finally. I should be sleeping.’  This enticing bit of information was intended to make me sound ironically hip to a post-taste culture that incorporated J-Lo alongside other more obscure influences.  The ‘I should be sleeping’ referred to a glamorous insomnia, and appealed to the banality I associated with this mode of communication.  Basically I was showing off in ever more obscure fashions.  I was an idiot. To paraphrase 10cc – the things we do for the false admiration of someone we don’t even know.

twitter-superman-icon.gifSo now I was on twitter, and under the impression that people would be interested in this drivel.  I continued in a similar vein, advertising my ‘wry humour’, building yet another language based caricature of myself, and revealing a little too much disorder and self-pity in the process.   I never asked who read it, just assumed people would.  I continued, because it was satisfying, and because it kept me friends with this girl, who I liked and who I didn’t know.  Now I’m just in the habit.

I now use Twitter more sparingly, and cautiously, but still find myself working on the assumption that somebody cares about all this, a common assumption and maybe one to be questioned.  As a social document, it makes you feel like you have a broader reach as an individual.  Sort of like being a journalist but not as cool, credible, or rigorous.  More like talking to yourself in the street.  It keeps you connected with people, who you know, partly know, or don’t know at all.  It is as good a distraction as any from loneliness and entropic lack of purpose.  It is kind of fun and informative.  It’s something to do.  Will I leave twitter?  Probably not.  Do I regret joining?  No.  But I find my reasons for joining retrospectively naïve, and tragically hilarious.  Reading back my tweets gives me an interesting portrait of a time I never would have bothered putting in a diary.  And it still serves as an outlet for thoughts, witty or otherwise.  It is a grand distraction from what I should be doing, and I thank it for that.  Twitter is a slightly more considered outlet than Facebook, a forum where we can all pretend to be public figures, and reach for our futile fifteen minutes of fame.  As such, it should be celebrated.  These words are my attempt.

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