Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why I’m a Twit*

Ha, ha. Yes, I’m sure there are loads of reasons why, but I’m talking about Twitter, people.

Pretty much the only thing I miss about working in an office environment is being able to take a break from work to saunter down the hall and shoot the breeze with a fellow malcontent before returning to my rock-breaking. Of course, in between these tete-a-tetes, were copious, inane instant messages like:

Psst… Roger is coming down the hallway toward you now. He’s not wearing an undershirt today, and I swear I saw a third nipple. Have a look-see and IM me back.”


“I really appreciate that Sally has bravely come to work to infect us all with her pleurisy or consumption or whatever the heck she has that’s been causing her to wet cough incessantly since 8:45.”


“I am so bored right now I’m building a paper clip replica of the Eiffel Tower, complete with three little French paper clip people. Oh, and one of them is smoking a filterless paper clip cigarette. What are you doing?”

Then I would fantasize about pulling the fire alarm and getting to go home early.

Good times.

But of course, once my “office” became my home, and once “at work” meant writing, messing around like this would have meant wasting MY time, and I never wanted to do that. So I hunkered down. I tuned out and turned on, or whatever that phrase is.

All good, right? Well, yes and no. I got writing done. That’s for sure. But complete work isolation was not without its consequences. Somehow after years and years of next to no contact with the outside working world, I found I had developed some kind of generalized reticence disorder. Frankly, before I started this blog, my ideal model for authorial self-promotion was to adopt Thomas Pynchon’s approach. Pretty much nuclear submarines have a higher profile than he does.

Now, I realize writing is a solitary activity, but getting published is decidedly not, and you can’t really get anywhere without coming out from under your rock at some point. Querying, for example, requires that you, you know, initiate contact with other humans known as agents. So you've got to get into the swing of things whether you like it or not. Plus, unless you’re committed to a life of serial killing, I think it’s generally accepted that socializing is good for you for a host of reasons. And good co-workers can make any insufferable job that much more sufferable. Pretty much you can boil office camaraderie down to this exchange:

“This sucks.”

“Dude, I know.”

Unfortunately, if you're a writer, you don’t have any co-workers, not unless you go looking for them. Hence, the Twittering. It's kind of become my replacement for walking down the hallway to see what the other inmates are up to.

I realize that for some of you – well, the very word Twitter triggers your gag reflex. If you haven’t gone near Twitter with a ten foot pole, let me explain what it is all about: despite what you’ve heard, Twitter is kind of like an ongoing cyber-cocktail party. You pop in, you pop out. You talk, maybe make a (hopefully) witty observation, and then you move on. Of course there are those who stay too long and say too much and make fools of themselves. This is true of all parties, no? You steer clear of those folks, which is fairly easy to do.

So this is why I tweet. Because it keeps my social gears oiled so they don't get rusty and because it reminds me of the good old days when I was stickin’ it to the man on company time. Of course, I realize that now I’m the man. And I’m not really stickin’ it to myself, ‘cause that would be dumb. Well, whatever. I think you know what I mean, and like I said at the outset, I’m a twit.

*I dedicate this post to my friend and former co-worker, Pat, who made working at the "dry-cleaners" that much more bearable.