This post was updated on March 5th, 2010.
Um, let’s just forget it ever happened.
Off Twitter and Strung Out
I dream of tweeps.
Before June 9th last year (apparently) that sentence wouldn’t even have made sense to me.
But these days I find myself involved in fantastic nocturnal adventures – exciting, weird, dangerous and sometimes scary adventures – with characters my subconscious creates from just a Twitter name and a dodgy avatar.
But this isn’t why I’m in Twitter rehab.
See, here’s the thing: I’m not a particularly social person (and ask all the tweeps who wanna do an IRL with me, it’s true). Never have been. Some of this comes from working in hospitality since I was 17. Slaving away to put myself through uni, I was always working when everyone else was out partying. It probably saved me many a moritfiying morning after and eventually it became a way of life.
Subsequently, I’m not a big imbiber of anything in particular. I love a few glasses of red wine, and am partial to a French martini. Love the buzz, love the fun, love the whole Bacchanalian/Dionysian aspect of letting loose once in a while. But I subscribe to the ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to socialising.
What I am is a reader, and – as I sometimes like to claim – a writer. Ergo: I love stories. Narrative has always rocked my world. Nose in a book, always at the cinema, often up a tree imagining Swiss Family Robinson scenarios, composing ads about conditioner in the shower – that was the kid I was. And, it seems, the grown-up I have become.
But, when I signed up for Twitter – ostensibly for work and partially out of curiosity – I was like Alice through the looking glass. Pretty soon I was absorbed by this fantasy world which was also, excitingly, of my own making.
Here was narrative writ small – 140 characters per installment, each installment creating stories made up of millions of potential characters.
Each new day my unique arrangement of tweeps/characters composes a narrative just for me. There’s intrigue, there’s dramatic complication, there’s humour, there’s angst, there’s sadness, misery, anger, grief, rage, annoyance, mundanity, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll – the whole goddamned box and dice.
Add to that the fact that I am a co-author of these narratives and you’ve kind of blown my mind right there.
It’s Charlie Kaufman, it’s Adaptation, it’s Jasper Fforde, it’s Alice in Wonderland, it’s Stranger than Fiction – it’s every self-referential postmodern meta-narrative you ever loved. And you’re in it. If Lewis Carroll was on LSD when he wrote Alice, just imagine what he would he do if he was on Twitter. OMG.
Unfortunately, coming from good Irish/Scottish stock you can imagine how many of my relatives have floated netherwards on the glass canoe and never returned. I’ve always feared for myself: feared the long and bottomless descent down that particular rabbit hole. Abstinence was easier. Until I met Twitter. I was gone. Hook, line and sinker. It had me at “What are you doing?”
But the problem with the Twitter narrative is that it’s open-ended. While there is delicious narrative structure in each thread the overall effect is of a neverending story. Which is great. And also not. Not when you’re an obsessive reader like me anyway.
But here’s the other thing. Twitter is fabulous for my work. I’ve been approached to write pieces via Twitter. I’ve found fabulous writers to write for me on Twitter. I have been inspired by other writers and the things they do on Twitter. I’ve called out to tweeps to help me for pieces I’m writing, and they do. I also have a bunch of news and opinions, tailor-made for the field in which I work, at my fingertips daily. (Which is good, cos I still don’t know how to work an RSS feed.)
And another thing (I know that’s a lot of ‘things’): I view rocking 140 characters the way we do on Twitter as kind of like a writing warm-up. Scales for the wordsmith poseur semi-literate if you will. But of course there’s no point warming up ad infinitum. At some point you have to perform. Put on the show. Play the game. Run the race.
Now we’re getting to the pointy end.
My plan has always been to write a novel. I said to someone the other day, “It’s all fun and games calling yourself ‘a writer’ until someone says, ‘ how’s the novel’s going’. Then it just sucks.” It’s time I pulled my finger out.
And so this year I’m starting my Masters in Creative Writing. I’m hoping my studies will make me a better writer. In fact, I have a feeling that if I get through the Masters I’m going to do a PhD – and you can bet your collection of Fail Whale merchandise that Twitter narratives will feature somewhere (that is if Twitter isn’t completely passé by then).
But right now something’s gotta give. I’m a wife ( a pretty shit one , I imagine), a mum (fair to middling), the editor of a local parenting magazine (a job I adore and could do all day and all night if I had no other committments) as well as a particularly lacklustre sister, friend and daughter.
And now I have even less time, what with readings and class and assignments. *sigh*
So I put myself in Twitter rehab – i.e I’m largely staying out of the public timeline for a little while. Believe me, it’s hard. I still spend a big portion of my day composing 140 character updates in my head.
But I can’t tweet. Because if I do and a lovely tweep replies, then I have to reply back. And then I see something cool that someone else wrote and then I have to RT it and then I have to follow a link and then someone else sees my RT and wants to chat. And I want to chat too.
I’ve used the analogy before about twitter being like a great night at the pub. And it is. But hey, I’m too old to go out every night.
I still read my Twitter narratives every day.
I still see what everyone’s up to.
My trigger fingers still itch when I want to reply to a happy/sad/funny tweet.
I still want to share great links with everyone.
What I have been doing is creeping around the DM column annoying the tweeps I thought were up for it. I think they’re starting to avoid me. In fact, I’m even weirding myself out.
And when I DM-ed one tweep with, “Am off Twitter. In the horrors. Just DM me to take the edge off,” I knew I was in trouble. Lol.
So I have promised myself that I have to tackle my To-Do list each day before I reward myself with some recreational tweeting. That To-Do list is pretty big right now, but with tweeting as my motivation I’m sure I’ll get through it.
One thing on that list today was to write this blog post. Because this, right here, is a requiem for my tweep dreams.
May they rest in peace.