I joined Twitter a few years ago, but had up until earlier this year tweeted exactly twice. In the last few months, though, I’ve tried to change that, mostly because I’m job hunting and trying to transition to a new city. Twitter seemed a good way to stay aware of what’s happening in that city and in the arts community there. I picked some people to follow, writers I admired, publications I trust, arts organizations I hoped would magically tweet me job offers. I also found celebrities, lots of them. Twitter is teeming with them. Of course, I should know this from any celebrity scandal that has broken in the last couple of years. Somewhere surrounding the before, during or after of the scandal, an entertainment reporter is checking Twitter feeds. But, when a writer I admire and had decided to follow followed me back, I was paralyzed. What would I write to prove to her that I was smart and witty and worthy of being followed? I wouldn’t consider myself a star-struck person. I don’t have autograph books. I have no iPhone pictures of me interrupting an actor’s meal at a steakhouse. The Lenny Kravitz poster that used to hang on my wall when I was a teenager was taken down long ago. Twitter, however, begs for you to interrupt, to eavesdrop, to feel like you could be their best friend. Inappropriateness sets in. And it isn’t just with celebrities.
I know I’m late to this: who hasn’t worried over social media in the last few years? I’ve discovered far too much about people I barely know over the years via Facebook. Somehow though, that famous author suddenly having access to what I say and think brought the world too close and I think, it’s too close without the reward of real intimacy. This moment right now, of you reading my words, well that’s a sort of collapsed distance too. And yet, the distance of writer to audience is one I accept somehow. Maybe because it’s more established, but probably because as far I know I’m not in conversation with anyone in particular, only with this screen or only with the page. And maybe that’s why the world feels too close, maybe that’s why I’ve tweeted just once to an @soandso and felt painfully awkward afterward.
I’d rather the world stayed a bit of a distance away, things tend to look prettier when they aren’t viewed through a microscope.