- May 29, 2015 in Columnists
Twitter — like going to battle, minus the bloodshed
“So, why do you like Twitter so much,” a friend asked me recently, after I’d been both chuckling and concerned over the amount of time I’d spent that morning verbally dicing up some random numbskulls who deeply had it coming.
I pondered that for a moment. What does Twitter have goin’ on that Facebook doesn’t?
Relative to Twitter, Facebook moves very slowly because you’re limited to your “friends,” and there’s all those cat videos to watch. Twitter, on the other hand, is a wide open world. Just hashtag a hot topic, and suddenly, you’ve got a debate. When you get into a reply groove with a few people, particularly people you don’t know, particularly people who believe themselves to be intellects but who are woefully mistaken, the tweets go off like popcorn. The adrenalin kicks in. The call of the fight kicks in. The drive to beat your opponent’s head in (without all the blood and goo) kicks in. It’s verbal Whack-A-Mole. As soon as you bop one down, three more pop up.
I blame my Scottish ancestors for my surly side. They were barbarians, famed for being aggressive and irascible. So horrid, in fact, that our family lore includes a story of a French princess betrothed to our clan leader, who found the idea of marrying him so repugnant that while being held in a tower (so she couldn’t flee) on the eve of her wedding day, she threw herself from the window and onto the sea rocks below. Death was preferable to her.
Yeah, we were that kind of popular.
And yet, I digress. But it’s because I’m still all amped up from battling all comers on my iPad.
I explained to my curious friend that Twitter is the opposite of writing columns. It’s highly interactive, with immediate gratification. Column writing, by contrast, is a lonely gig. You pour your heart, or ire, into 1,000 words or so, massage it, tweak it, clip it, polish it until it shines. You fling it out in front of the publie eye, and then… crickets. It’s like delivering a hilarious stand-up monologue or a fiery “Come to Jesus” rant to an empty house. Nothing but the sound of my own voice.
With columns, sometimes there’s feedback, of course, but if comes days later. Maybe it’s a wonderful email from a reader who says she was laughing so hard, she splurted coffee out her nose all over the newspaper. Score! Or maybe a thoughtful rebuttal from someone who acknowledges my point, but disagrees, and here’s why. Cool! You don’t have to agree with me, just understand what I wrote. The bar of expectation isn’t set very high, people. Thankfully, many not only reach but soar beyond.
Then there are those who decide that because they disagree with what I wrote, they hate me personally, and fire off vitriol-laced emails or, more likely, a nasty letter to the editor. Nine times out of 10 (if a columnist is doing her job), the letters to the editor in response to a column will be full of fury and demands for immediate termination. Those who agree with me tell me so privately because they fear the repercussions of publicly endorsing my position.
“I like you, but please don’t tell anyone.”
By the way, timid ones — it’s okay. You’ll become bold in time. Just you wait for menopause. All that lovey-dovey estrogen will dry up, and your testosterone will spring, fists up, to take on the world. (Yes, ladies, we have testosterone too, but our estrogen talks way louder and drowns the testosterone right out. This point is not wasted on any man who has ever been in a room full of women.)
The point here (she says as she reins herself back onto the path) is that column writing is lonely. There’s little or no interaction with your readers. On Twitter, the response is instant. And exponential. Tweet a concise little cherry bomb, and it goes off: People retweet your tweets, respond to those, add their comments, and off we go: Bop. Bop! BOP!
This morning, I had a rousing go-round with a climate change denier. I’m not sure what annoys me the most: climate change deniers, Obama birthers, Jade Helm believers or Taylor Swift fans, but if I’m at full caffeine levels and you toss me some asinine “Because Obama” nonsense, I’m going to hurt you. And you warble, “Shake it off,” I’ll leave a mark.
“But why do you enjoy this?” my friend persisted.
I pondered some more, and suddenly that amazing scene from Kill Bill popped into my head — when The Bride and her trusty Hattori Hanzo took down that nasty little sugarpop, Gogo, and all 88 of the Crazy 88s too (except the one she spanked). It is the most epic bloodbath on film ever. But not any old bloodbath — astounding, high-speed, blood-spurting gonzo martial arts insanity. (Quentin Tarantino, if you weren’t such a weirdo, I’d probably be hot for you. You have a twisted mind. I like that in a person.)
So, Twitter allows me to don that yellow and black jumpsuit, pick up my sword, and dice my opponents into stir-fry. And we’re all relieved that it’s a virtual jumpsuit, because if I walked in wearing that thing for real, then there’d be some real carnage. People would trample each other running for the door. Let’s just say I’m not Uma Thurman. Well, I am, but underneath a whole lot of padding. Which would also make flipping backwards through the air and slicing two Crazy 88 heads off at once a bit difficult.
As for participating in actual violence? Oh hell no. Sorry, Scottish ancestors. My great-great-greats may have wielded a Claymore like William Wallace himself, but me? Nope, nope, nope. My Italian half is dominant in that regard — let’s just have a glass of wine and chill. My Italian half is all about the love, and particularly the hedonism. The biggest weapon I’m comfortable using is my keyboard. I’ll do my bloodshed with words — 140 characters, to be exact.
So, my inquisitive friend, there you have it. I go to battle on Twitter to indulge the call of my ancestral bloodline, without all the mess.
Maya Spier Stiles North
- May 31, 2015 at 8:49 pm