On Twitter she goes by @wutangcher or mangorita hayworth, but IRL this week’s Follow Friday is Allison S. from Indianapolis, Indiana. According to Allison, she sporadically haunts local open mics and teaches art classes, is floundering in pseudo-unemployment, and spends a lot of time at the dog park. This week I asked Allison to tell me about three of her favorite tweets, and she talked about speaking honestly online, making the transition to Twitter from other, less constraining blogging platforms, and her thoughts on unfollowing and being unfollowed.
Allison: So, unfortunately I don’t get paid to tweet. Therefore, I like to invest my entire self-worth into the fleeting feeling of those sweet favs and RTs. When I do lose a follower, especially one who I considered a friend (or friendly web acquaintance), my ego gets a little bruised. I also completely understand because like, some people probably can’t handle a constant onslaught of pure gold 24/7. When I do notice a particular dip in followers, instead of digging a hole and crawling into the hole and dying of shame, I have developed this chart for people to consult when doing their exit interview.
How important to you are interaction and conversation when you’re using Twitter?
Very important! Up until like two weeks ago (because I got fired) I was working a super menial and mind-numbingly boring office job and interacting with people on Twitter was one of the few things that kept me awake. I think some of the funniest moments on twitter happen in long threads among groups of people. I’ve also made several acquaintances through Twitter that have crossed over into really meaningful IRL friendships.
Do you unfollow people ever? If so, what kind of stuff is likely to make you unfollow someone?
I unfollow people occasionally. Usually it is because I accidentally followed them on the app and I have no idea how either of us got there and it’s a little embarrassing and I just try to quietly duck out of those. Sometimes it is personal, sometimes political, other times it is just light housekeeping where I will be awake at 3:00am in a panic going through my follower list like “who are all these people?????” Truthfully part of the reason I made this list is because I’ve had people unfollow me and actually TELL me why. Like, some stranger I don’t even know just @ing me out of the blue to be like “This tweet wasn’t funny. Unfollowed.” Like I’m sorry but I was raised to avoid confrontation at all costs and quietly Irish exit from social gatherings, so I couldn’t imagine having the self-importance to announce my dismissal.
My twitter, and my favorite tweeters to read, tend to kind of falter between self-aware stream-of-consciousness LiveJournal entries and repositories for half-finished jokes. I love when people seamlessly flow between topics both heavy and light, since all our experiences are nuanced way beyond 140 characters anyway. In this tweet, I almost reached a point where I was going to have a serious, contemplative moment about my own identity and actions, but not without first completely trailing off into something totally incongruous.
Did you (or do you) use LiveJournal or any other blogging platforms? If so, did Twitter replace those for you/how does it compare?
I’ve been publicly oversharing online in any possible outlet since I was given access to an internet connection. I believe I very briefly used LiveJournal but really found my stride over at Xanga. My friends and I in middle school also used to post our (horrible) poetry and short stories on FictionPress accounts. I used to keep the Neopets message boards lit up as well. From Xanga I moved on to MySpace, to Facebook notes, statuses, I’ve had like four Tumblrs. I had a Wordpress blog for two years, not to mention at least 3 other Twitter accounts, and I’ve probably cycled through 5 different handles with just my main, current one.
When I first started using Twitter I was very skeptical of the character limit but it might actually be the best medium for my short attention span. I spend so much time trying to condense my thoughts to be as concise as possible for twitter that when I read long pieces and essays my first impulse is always “couldn’t this whole point have been made in like, a tweet?”
Regarding stream-of-consciousness: Do you draft tweets, and do you delete tweets ever?
I draft tweets that I can’t smash down into 140 characters, so I put them aside in the hopes that I can come back to it later. Other times I draft tweets that just might not be very funny, and I come back and they usually aren’t.
I love deleting tweets. Sometimes it is a privacy thing, like I wanna put something out there but I realize “yooo this is way too personal.” I saw something once where someone said deleting tweets just makes them “limited edition” and I think that’s pretty funny like, that tweet was only up for five minutes so if you saw it, you got a little exclusive content. Someday I hope to go full Kanye and just delete every tweet I’ve ever made. Maybe I’ll put that in my will.
I do talk about sex with some frequency. I know it is 2015 but I really feel like there is a dearth of women’s voices talking frankly about sex, especially in a completely non-sexy way. From my personal experience, one of the most frustrating parts of being a woman who has sex with men, in particular, is having these conversations about what you do and don’t enjoy. It’s like, they watch way too much porn and can’t connect that people derive actual pleasure from rubbing our parts together. All too often I’m trying to talk about sex with men and they always try to turn it into something grimy that you would whisper in my ear while getting way too close to my face and kind of spitting on me a little. Not to get too deep into it, but there’s something really dehumanizing about being made to feel like your body is just a vessel for someone else’s pornographic fantasies, and that enjoying sex makes you a “freak,” and not just another actual human participating in an activity that people have literally been doing forever.
Do you struggle at all with balancing being frank and being funny?
I think I use humor as a coping mechanism for times when I can’t quite bring myself to be frank. My emotional and thought processes are not straightforward or succinct at all. I have to talk in circles about something for a while until I feel comfortable getting right to the heart of it, and humor acts as sort of a tool to deflect a little bit of my discomfort, and ease myself into speaking more honestly. But I never want humor to feel “out of line” and make people who are already suffering even more uncomfortable.
What, if any, are subjects that you won’t even go near when on Twitter?
Mostly I just try to speak from my own experience, so… if it is something that is outside the realm of my experience, I don’t feel compelled to weigh in about it.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.