Reader, I hope that you came away from your obsessive pouring over of my column with two important factoids. The first is that I have a boyfriend, and if you forgot about that I am reminding you now, so please stop it with the incessant Google chats, Joseph Gordon-Levitt! Texting is a lot more convenient for me.
The second factoid is that I did not have a Facebook throughout most of high school. I actually created my Facebook account after getting my final college result in the spring of senior year. I still spent copious amounts of times on the Internet on Hulu and Netflix, going through TV shows seasons at a time. And though I was not part of the “Social Network” (my audition fell flat, like that joke I just tried to make), I certainly did cultivate a pre-Facebook online persona in those formative years.
I refer, of course, not to the Xanga account I created in seventh grade, with its black background and glitter cursor and single post gushing about the inspirational Clint Eastwood. No, it could not be Xanga, which I only ever posted on once because I could not seem to remember how to use the website when I tried to post again. I could change the background, the thumbnail, and the cursor a million times, but could not for the life of me figure out how to use the thing to broadcast my emo poetry.
My social online presence arrived years after that failure (and you must give me credit for the fact that it wasn’t a MySpace), when, after watching “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” (BBAJ) on Broadway twice and buying a shirt, I finally declared my love for the show virtually. My first tweet, on February 28, 2011, reads: “@boomboomhiller Just made my twitter for the purpose(s) of telling you that you were awesome in BBAJ and on 30 Rock. #UnconvincingNonStalker.” Jeff “BoomBoom” Hiller (I do not believe he actually uses the “BoomBoom” part anywhere but on Twitter), who was in BBAJ and whose funny few minutes on the Tina Fey vehicle prompted me to reach out with compliments, actually responded to that a few days later, tweeting “at” me: “@elitvit I think only famous people have stalkers. We’re just friends who haven’t met where one wants to eat others hair!”
To this day, I am unsure which one of us had those digestive hopes. Nevertheless, this exchange ignited and solidified my Twitter fixation, as I realized that this was a platform for me to reach out to many of my favorite artists and possibly get back what I wanted most in life: acknowledgement (it is true; it would be much more fulfilling for me to hear “I read your column” than “I loved your column”). My Twitter obsession was deepened by the fact that I had just gotten an iPhone: the news I wanted to be catching up on was now portable. My commitment to looking up from my cellular device for social interactions was doomed.
Since falling deeply in love with the tweety box, as @CraigyFerg—Craig Ferguson, the host of the Late Late Show—calls it, I have gotten a number of friends to make accounts or revisit their abandoned ones. I have done this largely by letting them know about the official, bona fide, verified celebrities who broadcast their thoughts on Twitter, as well as by sharing my favorite jokes by comedians whose careers have taken off due to Internet fame, like @meganamram and @robdelaney.
While I hold on to the hope that my Twitter jokes (i.e. “I wish I knew an insomniac witch so I could serenade her ‘Ain’t no rest for the Wiccan’”) will secure my financial future, I have already been rewarded for constantly updating my timeline in meaningful ways. Twitter interactions have put me in (physical) touch with actual heroes of mine. One of my favorite bands is a folk-comedy group called Summer & Eve. I have seen them play tons of times and have hugged two of the members repeatedly. I learned of them from following one of the members, another BBAJ alum, on that whale of a website (get it?!). The bandmates are mostly working actors, and when I occasionally see them on TV, I am reminded that 1) I am inching several degrees closer to Kevin Bacon and 2) I actually know these people because I decided to tweet at them. At one of their earliest shows, they actually recognized me from my Twitter profile picture, which was extremely awesome.
I find that I actually use Twitter rather infrequently while I’m at college. For the first few weeks of freshman year, I was still up to my months-old tricks, which lead to one of the greatest experiences of my life. Halfway through September, Twitter fiend and my personal hero, (and Wesleyan alum and wife of Neil Gaiman and artist/musician/performer), Amanda Palmer fatefully asked “is anybody out there at Wesleyan (university, in Connecticut)? raise hands.” When I saw that tweet, I did some gasping and flailing and hyperventilating. Then I got to typing, “*raises hand*” The next day, I spent hours with the woman whose music and writing has restored my faith in humanity countless times. She also hugged me for upwards of 30 seconds, which seems important to mention.
I did end up creating my Facebook not long after my Twitter account, but I have never found it as worthwhile. Facebook’s value is in keeping me in touch with people I already know, but there are other ways to be on top of that. Nothing compares to Twitter when it comes to bringing me closer to the thoughts (and bodies) of people I never thought I could know.
My handle is @elitvit, by the way. Wesleyan’s Career Center follows me on Twitter. You should, too.