GateHouse — Big week here at the house: I’m on Twitter, which is good, since I’ve been eagerly seeking out inventive new ways to spend more time staring at a computer. (Does anyone know at which age permanent iMac-borne corneal damage scorching can occur, and is it in the 30s? Would it help if I wore goggles, or will those do nothing?)
I’m wicked late with the Twitter thing, of course. I was late to the Facebook party, too; I was sort of dragged into it by the children I work with. Needless to say, I’m now on it like eight hours a day, although, in my defense, all of those hours occur at work.
But in joining Twitter, I am legitimately trailing all of the nation’s cool kids as well as the following: Shaquille O’Neal, everyone I went to college with, Barack Obama (or at least some army of MacBooks in his employ), Lance Armstrong, about 17 million hack reporters on cable news stations, Dwight from “The Office,” Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews Band, the page I’m looking at helpfully informs me, so as not to indicate that’s Dave Matthews, Earth science teacher and assistant basketball coach at Kouts North High School), Al Gore (pfft, of course), fake Clarence Clemons, MC Hammer, and John McCain. To repeat: JOHN MCCAIN WAS ON TWITTER WELL BEFORE ME. It’s not like I was ever dying to get on Twitter or anything, but that’s a little like when your Dad purchases an iPhone and asks if it gets long distance.
Also, Twitter is now being popularized by The Media, so it’ll be fully over by about 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, if my calculations are correct — ruined faster than Facebook was when all us thirtysomethings started jumping on there to take quizzes about films from The Eighties and forcibly swap baby pictures with high school friends. (Well, that’s not entirely true: I will also use it for distributing stolen music and self-indulgent inside jokes.)
Here’s what I’m going to use Twitter for, and it’s what I use Facebook for, and e-mail, and most of my life: distributing pictures of my son, anecdotes about objects that my son put in his mouth, and reports about adorable things that my son said, such as “Daddy, do you love me more than beer or books or a bottle of wine?”
I just tweeted that, right as I typed that, right now. (Did I mention that sending a message on Twitter is called “tweeting?” Totally. So basically I can spent a good part of my evenings, and nearly 100 percent of my workday, tweeting online with friends, and of course, Shaquille O’Neal.)
This, as near as I can figure, is what you do when you become too old to use Facebook for what it was originally conceived: posting pictures of yourself drinking at college apartment parties. Because sending around kid pics online, which I do, ferociously, without what you humans calls “shame,” is EXACTLY THE SAME as being forced to sit in a living room while folks page through their photo albums, except online you do not have the option of splashing the parents in the face with a club soda and smashing through their sliding-glass patio doors to make your escape, while screaming.
Seriously, go through your friends now, and if you can find more than 10 parents whose children do not appear in their profile picture, I will buy you a controlling stake in massive Wall Street bank of your choice (they’re wicked cheap now).
But Twitter also does what I found to be the most displeasing aspect of Facebook: take a pursuit that’s traditionally been emotional and organic — making friends — and assign ice-cold, brittle numbers to it. For instance, I currently have 25 people following me, which is about 150,800 fewer people than are currently following MC Freaking Hammer. Listen, I’m not saying I’m MC Hammer or anything, but it’s gonna be a little tough to go to sleep tonight. One hundred and fifty thousand followers! I can’t touch that.
Anyway, the point of this column originally was going to be that I am obsessed with Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter. OB. SESSED. If you have not done so already, visit twitter.com/THE_REAL_SHAQ. I’ll wait here.
Good God, what doesn’t he do? He talks to fans, gives away tickets to people who find him in malls, makes fun of “Kazaam,” and reports that he is “sugly, dats sexy and ugly mixed in one.” Seriously, and I am not joking, following Shaq makes Twitter fully worthwhile for me, even if he doesn’t post any stories about his kids