What It's Like to Join Twitter, Almost a Decade Late
Twitter was created in March 2006. I joined on July 31, 2014. Over 500 million people signed up before me. Let’s call me number 500,000,001.
For quite some time, I’ve blamed the Internet for stealing a lot of my precious hours of downtime. I used to read more books and watch more movies at home. . . I told myself, quietly blaming Instagram k-holes for this shift. I mean, I still haven’t finished The Goldfinch. For that reason, I never joined Twitter–that and a weird sense of ironic pride. I was already on Facebook and Instagram, did I really need another avenue to distract myself?
But then my life started to change. I started writing more. I got into comedy. And I would Twitter-stalk my favorite comedians without being on Twitter. Then I started writing for this here website. When I began, I was asked to provide links to my social media, of which I had none—other than my private Facebook and private Instagram. So I decided to make my Instagram public. So far so good. But then I thought, ya know what, let’s do this. I may be just shy of under a decade late to the game, but better late than never right?
First move—I sign up for Twitter! My go-to username for everything (and nickname in REAL LIFE) is RuddyBuddy, so I immediately think that’s what I’ll go by. Nope. Taken. So is Ally Ruddy. So is Alexandra Ruddy. So are Cat Lady, Kitties4LYFE, and CATATTACK. So I settle on this preposterously unoriginal Alexandra_Ruddy. The only thing separating me from the other Alexandra Ruddy is a pesky little underscore.
OK–now I’m on Twitter! THERE ARE SO MANY WORDS AND SO LITTLE FILTERS. It makes me feel a tiny sliver of shame for being so used to barrages of images. There are so many people to think of following that I of course can’t think of any. Finally I just type in a few of my closest friend’s names. I feel like I’m all of a sudden getting to know each friend’s online persona and it kind of weirds me out. And to be honest, I started following some good friends that I immediately unfollowed because I realized they haven’t tweeted in fourscore and seven years.
An aside: despite the fact that I am part of the “Internet generation” I am technologically stunted. I don’t really know what Tumblr is, and in case you ‘re wondering why I haven’t used a gif in this article, it’s because I genuinely don’t know how to. Furthermore, I don’t really understand how the Internet works, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s 0s and 1s, right?
First things first, what would my initial tweet be? I wrote and rewrote this several times, again, settling on something extremely banal. My favorite rejected first tweet: “I been tweeting, I been tweeting” to the tune of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.” Think about it!
A few days go by and I start to feel like this thing is basically a live journal. I have little to no followers. Everyone else has already been doing this for a while so it’s annoying to get a late start. So I literally text a friend in New York to tell her to follow me. I start following a bunch of people. I decide I better dive in.
A week and a half rolls by, and I’m still pretty ambivalent about the whole Twitter thing. But then Robin Williams died. I, along with everyone I know, was utterly devastated. Of all of the outpouring of sadness on the Internet, the most touching anecdotes I witnessed were on social media. Comedians took to Twitter to share their own experiences with Williams, or to express why he, above all, was their #1 inspiration (Norm Macdonald’s is a particular favorite). These stories offered personal insight that made my heart swell. It meant a lot to me to hear these heartfelt memories from people who knew him. And from that experience, it made me see how social media and the Internet can really be an amazing way to connect people.
It can also force you to deal with scumbags, but I think the good outweighs the bad.
So now here I am, over a month into the Twitter universe, and I have to say, I am a fan. Like sugar and wine, I’m trying to use Twitter for the right reasons only and in moderation. I find that as a medium it embraces people with wit and brains. I find that “being good on Twitter” really is a skill—like joke writing for our generation. And I find that I’m going to be tweeting for a while. But first, I need to finish The Goldfinch. . .
P.S. If you’ve made it this far in the article then you might as well follow me @Alexandra_Ruddy