I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but when I opened my Twitter account back in 2009, I had no idea of the impact it was going to actually have on my life.
In a land before time when memes weren’t even a thing and before I was composing 1500 word blog posts for your reading pleasure, I was writing one-liners on Twitter. Having to think of something bursting with creativity and wit in 140 characters or less was not only challenging but so incredibly satisfying. When all the stars aligned and you actually felt like you nailed the perfect tweet, it took everything you had not to sit and wait by the phone for Lorne Michaels himself to call you into the writer’s room at SNL (I’m still waiting for that call, I’m sure it’s coming any day now). I knew I was funny when I started to see my follower count grow from the 10 people who I knew in real life to a following of around 6,000 strangers, all validating me in the form of stars and retweets.
Being totally clueless to the world of tweeting and not really seeing the point in the whole damn thing, my account started much like everyone else’s did, following every Kardashian and embarrassingly tweeting about the randomness of my day with hashtags galore. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a community, if you will, of normal, everyday people who had nothing in common other than they were all funny as fuck, that I realized I was going about this Twitter thing all wrong.
They weren’t comedians, Hollywood producers or even writers, they were your kid’s teachers, stay-at-home moms and 20′, 30′ and 40′ somethings all finding the humour in the struggle of everyday life, just like the rest of us. Reveling in the sheer genius of being able to create original comedic material that these people were busting out on the regular, I had hoped that I had it in me to do the same. After befriending a high school teacher from the burrows of Jersey, who taught me the rules and ropes of the game, I made it my mission to succeed.
From that day onward, Twitter became not only a hobby but a lifestyle. It was my social networking full-time job that only paid me in attention and praise. I was essentially buying the love of strangers at the cost of my time and inner dialogue, but I loved every second of it. Spending literally hours of my day, formulating the perfect tweet, scrolling through my news feed starring and retweeting like a crazy person, and handing out virtual trophies just to get noticed sounds like a lot of work, and it was, but it was worth it (for a while).
If you can’t make fun of yourself and you generally take yourself too seriously, then Twitter is definitely not the place for you. The power of being able to turn your own unfortunate musings into some form of a hysterical joke is the common thread that binds us all together and keeps people coming back to your feed for more. Nothing is off-limits, not even your own relationships or mental health, but hey, all’s fair in love and Twitter.
Writing jokes on the internet was my outlet for not only creativity but for speaking my mind, which typically I had shied away from in the past, but Twitter created that space for me to find my voice and passion for writing butt jokes. Although, when people would actually bring up my Twitter account in conversation, usually with complimentary comments or questions, I would often try to change the subject because there’s nothing that makes you sound like more of a douchebag than trying to explain the fundamentals of Twitter to someone at a social gathering.
Among the many lessons Twitter has taught me, the concept that raw honesty is actually funny takes center stage. You’ll notice quickly that the more relatable something is, no matter how gruesome, the reaction will typically always be positive. There isn’t a lot of honesty in the world today, but it refreshingly still has a permanent home on Twitter.
Twitter is also a place where being a strong, opinionated woman with a wicked sense of humour (yes, women are actually funny), is embraced and celebrated. Judgment is left at Facebook’s doorstep and a woman can openly joke about wanting to purposely leave her kids at the grocery store because sometimes parenting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The women even have the ability to out-wit the men most days, with their downright dirty commentary on all things from sex to marriage to kids and everything in between. If Christina Aguilera taught us anything in those pink hot pants, it’s that nobody can hold us down, and that we should be able to speak our truth freely and without judgment. (Sorry for the mini feminist rant. Hashtag girl power. Ok, I’m done).
Being able to connect with people all around the world who I would have never otherwise connected with, is another way that Twitter has greatly impacted my life. Thanks to my budding social (media) life, I now have friends all over the globe that would totally let me crash on their couch if I were ever in town. Not only have I made connections with some of the most amazing acquaintances, but I’ve become lifelong friends with people just a short drive away that I wouldn’t have otherwise met if it weren’t for such serendipitous circumstances.
Being able to send a quick message and have somebody on the other end of the phone understand the struggle of trying to curate the perfect sub-tweet to your Twitter crush is the undying support that only my inner Twitter-sphere will truly understand. (Don’t worry, I’ll include a glossary of terms below for any non-Tweeters out there who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.)
Just like a collection of bad high-school cliques, the many different characters that you’ll come across on Twitter are bountiful. There’s the guy who dated everyone, the girl who married everyone, and the guy who thinks he knows everything about everyone but actually doesn’t know jack shit. Luckily for me, I never experienced the dreaded catfish, but rest assured, they do exist in droves.
It was inevitable that when you gathered that many like-minded and bored people all in one communal place, you’d start to see people using Twitter as their very own international OKCupid. Relationships started forming (almost as quickly as marriages started dissolving 🙈), and as you can imagine, the drama started to ensue.
I myself ended up in the midst of said drama from time to time, but it was all part of the rush. Creating the pages in my very own soap opera, while the world watched was just part of the territory, and there were lessons to be learned, I just wish I had learned them a lot sooner and a little less publicly.
Over time, Twitter became less about the comedy and more about the “who’s-sleeping-with-who” and other bullshit politics. It became a chore to keep up with the game and the amount of effort that went into each task ended up sucking the life out of the reason we all started this silly thing in the first place.
After taking an almost four-year hiatus to focus on my toxic relationship and overall quality of life, I recently made the decision to get back in the Twitter game, but only to play by my own rules this time.
Twitter has significantly changed from the way it used to be just a few short years ago, especially with the popularity of Instagram and, oh, actually having a life. If you ever do decide to dive deep into the Twitter world, beyond the Kayne’s and the Chrissy Teigen’s there is still a community of some of the very best everyday comedians that you’ll ever come across, all still getting up every day to work their 9-5’s.
The next time you’re scrolling through Instagram and find yourself chuckling at a joke on one of your favourite meme accounts, just know that a single mom in Florida probably wrote that shit while she was locked in the bathroom trying to hide from her kids.
Some Twitter Terminology for you, as promised:
Subtweet – a tweet written for or about someone else without actually naming that person.
Twitter crush – think Romeo and Juliet, without the corsets
Star – when you like someone’s tweet
Retweet – when you really like someone’s tweet
Trophy – when you want to have babies with someone’s tweet…kidding (Kind of)