Erika Paget (@staypopular) on Insular Neuroticism and Tweeting for Herself

Erika Paget: Gallery Manager for the Museum of Broken Relationships, emotional writer, and city witch. Actual artist merit can be found at her website. This week Paget shared three of her favorite tweets with me and expanded on them. We talked about writing feelings, her ideal Twitter audience, and Larry David.

Paget: I once read this essay I wrote at a literary event and a woman who was at the reading said I was good at capturing “that feeling of not being seen by the world.” I basically grew up on Judy Blume and Degrassi so I’m always feeling a little dramatic and disenfranchised by something. This tweet was me probably standing in the parking garage elevator at work waiting for some business dingus that was taking forever to get to the elevator door and just being over it. I love to empower myself by being occasionally shitty.

Are there other feelings you think you are especially skilled at conveying?

I’m definitely always in my head about everything, so I feel like I’m good at expressing the neuroticism you have when you’re constantly concerned about everything for no real reason other than it exists around you. My level of neuroticism is very insular – I make everything about me somehow. I recently tweeted about how I went to the pet store to buy litter for my cat and I saw these parakeets in a cage, all just chilling on their perch and talking. I went over to see them and the birds straight up stopped talking and then visibly moved away from me in unison on their perch. I had like four tweets about how jarring it was to be shunned by birds. I’m like Larry David; I’m always just like, CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE?

Is there anyone on Twitter that especially helped you find your voice or determine what the platform could be for you?

I started Twitter back in 2009, when a friend of mine told me to join. I basically copied her style because she was doing well and I thought that was the “voice” of Twitter. Once I really got into it, I followed a lot of “weird Twitter” people and was kind of writing like that, more just one-liners that got decent retweets but then over the last year or so I think I settled into a style that’s more conversational but still has a joke aspect to it. If I can’t make it funny somehow, I usually don’t tweet it. Twitter feels more like an exercise in my own comedy. Occasionally, I’ll use it to rant about social injustice, but I try to save my political thoughts for that ride home after a party where I can force someone to listen to all my Donald Trump conspiracy theories (I have a few!).

This is seriously something I do all the time. I spent some teen years in the South and I went to high school with a lot of dudes that would just smoke cigarettes in the parking lot and skateboard and listen to Metallica. I guess I always thought it was cool and so now it makes me feel cool as hell to speed down Sunset Blvd and blast Iron Maiden in the summertime. But it’s also ridiculous. Like, I’m an adult woman with the recreational preferences of a college burnout.

Do you prefer tweeting real-life stuff vs made-up stuff?

I can only tweet real-life things! So many of my followers are my close/good friends, and they would know immediately when I was making something up. Occasionally I’ll exaggerate for comedic purposes but I feel like the challenge is finding the insightful hilarity of my own real experiences. I live a terribly comical life; I’d be doing it an incredible injustice not to describe it accurately.

How similar is your voice online to your voice IRL?

My Twitter now is basically exactly how I sound IRL. My voice is a little more wacky IRL because I have more leeway to develop and explain jokes than I do in 140 characters but there’s very little difference between me in-person and my Twitter. That’s brand authenticity, baby!

I got these amazing bellbottom jeans on sale from Urban Outfitters recently. They were originally like, over a hundred dollars and I got them for 20 bucks so I was already feeling myself on a Super Shopper Bad Bitch level but then the day they were delivered, I wore them out to a bar and I felt like The Supreme. I was like, this must be how people get these illusions of grandeur in their head. I felt like I could have run an entire campaign with the slogan “But how good do I look in these jeans?” and won by a landslide.

Who would you say is the ideal audience for your tweets?

My ideal Twitter audience is anyone else who really enjoys Seinfeld. I mean, it’s a Twitter about nothing. If you find the stupid minutia of life silly enough to ruminate on it, boy, do I have some tweets for you.

Do you tweet with anyone specific in mind?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I tweet for myself. I’m serious. There’s a video somewhere on a 2011 Macbook Pro where I’m drunk at a party, wearing a sweater that’s not mine, shouting, “I tweet for me!” I hope that video has been destroyed.

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

Erika Paget (@staypopular) on Insular Neuroticism and […]