To Twitter, with love

Fake Out

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Dear Twitter,

You sent me a notification this week that it was my five-year anniversary on Twitter. Five years is a really long time, and I’m feeling nostalgic.

Five years of tweeting isn’t long enough. In my mind, I can’t remember life without you.

I just want to take the time I have here to thank you and to tell you that I love you. I love you for all the time I’ve spent on you, scrolling through my feed, paying attention to something other than real life. You’ve been with me for most of my late adolescence and early adulthood.

Your layout feels so homey! It’s all perfect. 140 characters is the perfect length. Tiny munchable tweets are blocked off from each other by little lines and set along my timeline that goes on into eternity. Thanks to you, Helvetica Neue is now one of my favorite fonts, second only to Garamond.

You remember everything about me. I’ve been meaning to request my archives, but I’m nervous to see my tweets from three or four years ago, to see how embarrassing I used to sound. You keep such good receipts on me!

I’m thankful for every time you’ve showed up when I needed you most. Whether I was at some boring party, or waiting in line for Cheeseboard, or sitting in a bad lecture, I know there are always more tweets for me to scroll through.

You’re there for me when I wake up in the morning, lying in bed for that extra hour. I’ve ended up replacing a morning newspaper with seven of my favorite news sources yelling at me all at once, all through you. I know everything that’s going on in the world up to the second, and I get 10 different perspectives all at once on all of it.

You’re there for me late in the night when I can’t fall asleep, headphones in, sad about something unimportant. When I feel ugly, I tweet. When some boy ghosts me, I tweet. I tweet to dig myself out of everything. You house my internal dialogue, externalized and realized in real words.

No one is more reliably in my bed at the end of the night than you. No one else knows what I need to hear at any given time. I know because I was the person that curated everything onto my feed. You feed me meme Twitters like Guy in Your MFA and Baby’s Names. I can look forward every night to Vine threads as bedtime stories.

Twitter isn’t just a mindless scroll or a bunch of loud, useless voices. Both of those are fair assessments, but why is that bad? Twitter is my soundboard, a space that is wholly mine as much as it is wholly others’. My twitter is an expression of my relationship with myself in development.

My Twitter drafts are filled with weeks and months and years worth of dead ideas — a visible unfiltered history of my subconscious. I love looking through my drafts, a whole bunch of empty half sentences and formless drivel.

My tweets are just the ideas that worked. Everytime I write a tweet, it fleshes me out, in turn. My tweets are my voice. My tweets found my voice for me. Tweeting has made me a better writer. That’s possibly the most embarrassing sentence I’ve ever typed, but it’s true.

I love how much of a narcissist I could become through you. I feel no shame when I tweet. That was the secret you let me in on: I never had to feel ashamed of anything I felt or believed.

At some level, you are totally tiresome and vapid. So am I! And yeah, nobody really takes you seriously. We have that in common too! You are the reason I found my confidence. Five years of all the favorites and retweets seeped in; I actually feel that validation in me in everything I do now.

Five years ago, I was a loud, anxiety-ridden mess. I wasn’t even funny. You taught me to always look for the joke in everything. Where I used to just be loud and annoying, now I’m actually clever. Well OK, I’m still not funny mostly, but people definitely laugh at my jokes in real life sometimes. You’re the only reason that happened!

You’ve developed my sense of irony into the sharpest, funniest piece of me. Living on this earth is such a farce. Being anything at all is so deeply absurd, and what Twitter users do well is form communities infused with the healthy dose of irony that comes out of that absurdity. Why does it feel like only the people on Twitter talk about that? Here’s to the Mallory Ortbergs and the Melissa Broders, the Brandon Wardells and even the Wints.

I know I’m supposed to be embarrassed of you. Most other Twitter users swath their love for you in that very irony you cultivate in them.

I refuse to do that. Here’s my unfeigned toast to you, my benign addiction of choice. Thank you.

With love,

Justin

Justin Knight writes the Monday arts & entertainment column on building identity by consuming culture. Contact him at [email protected]. Tweet him at @jknightlion.