Inside the Silly, Dark, Intelligent Tweets of Molly Hodgdon (@Undeadmolly)

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Molly Hodgdon lives in Vermont. She’s currently in grad school studying criminology and is a contributing writer for Rifftrax. On Twitter, Hodgdon goes by the name Molly Manglewood, or simply @undeadmolly. Her tweets meld the macabre with observational humor and silliness. I recently asked Hodgdon to elaborate a bit on three of her favorite tweets, and she spoke with me about her pet turtle, her reasons for adopting a pseudonym, and the importance of conversation on Twitter.

What made you decide to use a pseudonym on Twitter? Have you noticed it affect the way you write or interact on the site?

Probably for the same reason most people do, a slight layer of privacy. I’m not ashamed of anything I write, but I realize it can have negative consequences. If someone in a position of influence over me doesn’t care for satire or blue humor and can easily find my twitter page by googling my real name I’d be screwed. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out with minimal digging, but this gives me a slight gap. What I post is already heavily edited from what I’m really thinking and saying, but in order for it to be completely palatable to 100% of consumers, that would take away almost all of the things I find funny and interesting.

Were there people you followed early on when you joined Twitter who helped set your tone or the way you use it?

I first joined twitter in 2008. I started an account and looked around, but there didn’t seem to be anything happening so I left and forgot about it. I didn’t really pick up the account and start tweeting until some time in early 2013. I was just spouting, talking to myself. I started following a variety of people but found the style I most prefer in Sean Tejaratchi (@shittingtonUK), Bridger Winegar (@bridger_w), @vladchoc, and @ceejoyner, then later Jacy Catlin (@ieatanddrink). They all write ridiculous things but there’s an obvious undercurrent of intelligence. Their tweets often contain whole worlds, stories. Each one is an original creation, they don’t use formulas or hashtags unless they’re subverting them in some new, clever way. I don’t know if this is true for all of them, but it feels like they’re tweeting for the pure joy of it, not making strategic tweets designed to harvest retweets and new followers.

This isn’t the only time you’ve tweeted about horses/animals. Are there specific characters or themes that you find yourself tweeting about frequently?

I love animals! I have a pet tortoise, Chester, and three cats. I like most animals, but tortoises really fill me with joy. I feel better knowing those grumpy little old man dino babies are trundling around the earth. I don’t like some animals, but I realize it’s not their fault. Lampreys, for example, aren’t being terrifying nightmare razor suck-fish on purpose.

I don’t have any running characters except my pets. Some people are great at that, like @karentozzi, but I try to stay away from it. It just isn’t a good fit for me.

Is the response very different when you post a tweet with a message vs. a nonsense one?

Yes, I think silly tweets get a bigger response. Which is understandable. We’re bombarded with op eds, blogs, think pieces from all over, nobody needs to hear it from me as well. It’s really an act of vanity when I post something serious. Some part of me needs to be identified as a Good Guy.

Do you think it’s important for Twitter to invite conversation? Do you think that conversation can lend itself to more humor or that it stifles it?

I think the conversational aspect is entirely up to the user. I know that’s a lame non-answer, but it’s true. For me I want the conversation extraordinarily limited. I only follow 79 people right now, a carefully curated list of people who fit with my very specific idea of what I want to see in my feed. Just the right frequency, content, tone. There are lots of followers I’m friendly with and very fond of, but I know if I followed them I’d never read their tweets and probably end up muting them. That feels dishonest to me, so I’d rather just not follow them in the first place. They’re not bad tweeters at all, I’m just very firm in wanting to maintain strict control over my experience. It’s really not them, it’s me.

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.