My tweets come to me in waves, kind of like the nausea-hunger cycle one endures on her period. I’ll have three days of subjectively unadulterated wit followed by a week of getting lost in the trappings of a hectic schedule that leaves my Twitter account neglected and, even worse, un-funny. And then, the three days of me patting myself on the back in masturbatory chirping, nonchalantly dropping the details that both spawn from and trigger whatever the F is going on inside my head, resurrect like Jesus Christ on this very Easter Sunday.
For example, a dry spell will produce uncomfortably forced material (as I feel obligated to feed my social media presence regularly) that reads like this: I tried to put on jeans in this blizzard but after three hours “literally could not” and had to come home and put on leggings/exercise pants
That is a bad tweet.
But when I peak, I peak: Raise your hand if your outfit has ever been personally victimized by your snow boots and Grandpas who work out in boating shoes [I promise, not all of my tweets are about shoes] and then there’s this last one, which I think is really funny but most people don’t get it, “I love it when you call me big matcha”
(Most don’t understand this one because you have to have both a broad knowledge of Biggie and a specific knowledge of powdered green teas to do so and to therefore find it funny whatsoever. I think I am one of a small margin who stands at the crossroads of both of these… um… roads.)
Needless to say, when a good tweet comes to mind you hold on to it for dear life and you don’t let go. This means you might text it to yourself or jot it down in the Notes app or, old-fashioned, on a napkin if you don’t have time to perfect your own diction within the confines of 140 characters.
This means that I tweet everywhere. I tweet from the street, on line, in class, and, especially, while walking. The best ideas always come when I’m walking. A tweet is not a boob or crotch itch one cannot, and therefore does not, scratch in public. A tweet is much more ephemeral, but the largest difference between the two phenomena is that the latter is something you don’t want to drift out of consciousness. The former, obviously, you do.
For someone who is not very self-conscious, though I am self-aware, tweeting makes me very self-conscious.
I tweet and I feel like everyone walking behind me is peering over my shoulder. I’m paranoid that the world is reading it — which is stupid, because the world is actually about to read it — and I’m paranoid that, above all, the world is judging me for it, “it” being both the contents of the tweet and the tweet itself.
If I was walking behind someone who was tweeting, I would probably be thinking the following things:
- Isn’t it weird that she’s talking but directing it at no one right now, in other words that she’s talking to nobody, like talking to a wall
- Like why is she tweeting and not texting
- What could she possibly be tweeting while walking somewhat aimlessly
- Really, why is she tweeting
- Who does this chick think she is having a directionless voice that people will care to listen to
The last one was a little harsh, but you catch my drift.
A Twitter account is kind of like a public diary — or in my case, it is one — and it is the ideal space to unleash the random thoughts that cross your mind — that’s how I construct my tweets, anyway, they aren’t contrived or planned much further than that — that other people might just find funny. And in order for one to recognize that others might find his or her inner train of thought humorous, he or she must be able to poke some small ounce of fun at his or herself. He or she must also have some hubris. I probably suffer from that to an extent.
I’m self-conscious when passersby see me tweeting on the low, whether I’m walking or opening Twitter in a new Chrome tab at a coffeeshop, because I feel like they’re getting a strange glance into this proverbial abbreviated diary of mine. They know when I have an idea because I take action to it right away. Usually when you have an idea, you just have it and you are, at first, the only one who knows. Like any other diary I’ve ever written, people are welcome to read it, but only if I stick it in your face and force you to.
So, I guess the moral of the story is to follow me on Twitter if you want to read my tweets. And if you insist on being nosey, on judging me for tapping on the little blue bird in the lower right-hand corner of my iPhone, then you are simply snooping in a sphere that is not yours to snoop. And you’re totally harshing my creative mellow. Jeez.
I have a really very awfully bad digital hoarding problem. The first time I typed that out I swear on Carrie Bradshaw I wrote “digital hoarding program” and I said the word “program” in my head when I was typing it so a) I clearly have convinced myself that I do actually have a digital hoarding program and b) if you still don’t quite understand what a Freudian slip is when people talk about them I have just solved your social shortcomings.
To ease my strange emotional attachments to the digital ways in which I’ve documented my own life — from photos of me in a onesie and a tutu, don’t ask, to my first 20-page single-spaced collection of memories from the summer after I graduated high school — my tech-savvy uncle enrolled me in the 12-step program for people like me. It goes like this: you buy an external hard drive, put everything on it, and then delete it all from your actual laptop by spending the most nostalgic chunks of time you will ever have with your computer, ever.
In sifting through completely insignificant photos like this:
I came across way too many others like this (circa five versions of iOS ago):
Way, way too many others like that.
It turns out that an embarrassing percentage of my iPhoto library is not actually iPhotos but is iScreenshots of anything and everything: bad photoshop jobs, really mean things that boys have said, really nice things that boys have said, really funny things my friends have said, funnier things my friends’ moms have said (“HAVE YOU SEEN JAMIE? WE ARE REALLY WORRIED ABOUT HER????? [KISSIE FACE EMOJIS]”), and also, like, some coupon codes.
The strange thing about this is that none of these words or these sentences or these “I love you I hate you I love you I hate you” rants have ever actually been said. They’ve all been typed and sent and read and felt. But no one ever looked me in the eye and spoke it from their mouths.
If they were said, I wouldn’t have been able to screenshot them and look back on them in search of evidence, as I do when I construct my more argumentative relationships like research papers.
The stranger thing, though, is that I screenshot so much to begin with. I’m not that much of a psycho — 99 percent of the screenshots I take I don’t do anything with, and I don’t take them in anticipation of needing them in the future. Sometimes I go through my camera roll and delete twenty of them at a time because I don’t know why I felt an attachment to them, or a love at first sight. I think — I think — I take them because I am a hoarder and I am obsessed with remembering things. The voice in my head was very concerned when I realized how I was more reluctant to delete a screenshot than I was to delete an actual photo because screenshots have, really, created a way for us to preserve the typically unpreservable.
The satisfaction I felt from rereading things that happened at crucial moments, or “turning points,” if you will, was, like Beyoncé, irreplaceable. Also, I should note that most of my screenshots aren’t of bad things. They are often funny, or “I miss you” texts, or other things that have the ability to deceivingly transport me to a time I would have otherwise forgotten about. Most of them are the kinds of things that make you laugh out loud in public.
Screenshots are flirty and fun and I like them but, like my shoe-hoarding issue, there comes a time where I’ve just gotta clean out the closet. I can’t hold on to Hilary Duff’s amazing blue hair Instagram forever.
169 weeks ago, I took a selfie of the right half of my face and the left half of my friend Carly’s face. She was sleeping.
These were the days before VSCO Cam and Afterlight, before Chrome and Transfer. So what did a girl like me have to do to put a filter on it? I had to Instagram it. That is, after all, what I assumed Instagram was for.
It was the only editing app at the time, and I wanted to start putting film borders around the photos I took “just like all the cool girls!!!”
169 weeks ago, I googled “photo apps for making pictures look like film” and ten minutes later I downloaded Instagram.
It seemed to be a bit much, though. All these steps and all these different buttons to click on and the different places to go just to use Lo-Fi? Some questions running through my mind:
-Why do you have to create a username and password to add some low-key vintage pizzaz?
-Why is it that after I edited this pic of me awake and Carly sleeping it comes up on a “home” feed?
-Will this happen after every photo I edit?
-Why is someone else’s photo on my home feed?
One thing I knew: the photos automatically saved to my phone, and that was all I really cared about. So I kept using Instagram to edit stuff when I was bored and ended up with an incredibly random assortment of edited photos saved to my account and on my phone.
Five weeks passed until I used Instagram again. 164 weeks ago, I took a photo of my mom while we were eating chef salads at a diner. “This would look so good in black and white. Let me edit it for you,” I told her. I opened Instagram, put Mama in grayscale, and added a white square border. Chic.
I continued to document the trip my boyfriend and I took to Florida by putting film frames around photos of us at the beach and in the kosher supermarket.
154 weeks ago, my friend Laura must’ve discovered Instagram. It appears she liked my picture, not that, at the time, I had any idea what that meant.
Laura proceeded to “like” the photos I posted of my boyfriend and me in the film frame (I guess I thought that one flattered us well) though neglected to show digital affection to the photo I decided to edit of my plastic travel cup captioned, “My baby.” That was also the first time I captioned a photo.
I guess by then I started to realize the game that was playing me. I suddenly had something to attend to – I was notified of likes and I followed people who followed me even though, at first, I had no idea why anyone would really care about the ways in which I chose to make my photos looks like they came from a Polaroid.
It’s hard to remember how, at the time of its birth, Instagram was an unfathomable creation. You edit photos, you post them, and people like them… Think about it.
People like photos you edit.
You make a photo look different and people press a button to publicly display affection for it.
People follow you so that they can see all of your photos because they care about the photos you decide to edit.
(Or maybe you don’t care, but you’re “interested,” if you’re gonna get all defensive about your stalking tendencies.)
Today, Instagram has become a totally different thing than it once was – no one uses heavy filters and you post in a way that will hopefully generate the maximum amount of likes. My posts used to be weird and quirky, and I didn’t care if I posted more than once in a day or not once for three weeks. I posted because I thought my weirdest pictures would look best in Valencia. I didn’t check my feed and I followed neither Kim Kardashian nor TeaTannedandToned. But now it’s my favorite form of social media. The other night I got mad at my brother for screwing up every opportunity to either participate in or shoot an Instagrammable photo even after I took one of him that he posted. That’s a lot different than being mad because I no longer have a boyfriend to put film frames around. And even more mad that Instagram took away the border function all together. Ugh.
It’s a different time so it might not be comparable. But the story of my relationship with the OG IG will never get old – I thought it was a photo editor! Golly whiz! One day I’ll tell that story and it’ll be like the future version of your grandma telling you about churning butter on her New England farm as a kid.
But still, it amazes me how I was so clueless for so long and what the reasons were for that. Why isn’t Instagram weird? IDK. IDK.
Image via WeHeartIt.