Six months ago, I became entangled with Twitter because my line of work demanded it. Prior to immersing myself in the reckless cascade of mandatorily concise zingers, I’d stalked the world for 2,000-word story ideas, hoping to appease minds with my self-deprecating tales. Now, thanks to Twitter, I diligently observe every human flaw, pop culture phenomenon and remote inkling of emotion that scuttles by me, all in search of the perfect 140-character explanation.
Since joining (@daniellebernabe), I regularly wake in the middle of the night with ideas for jokes, scrambling to save them as drafts: “Simpsons are yellow;” “Birth control is hard to remember to take;” “Blind man using stucco to communicate.” The next morning, my tired eyes struggle to make sense of the Christmas haul of ideas!! I’m not alone in this:
After six months of tweeting, I find myself chatting about it with my 6-year-old cousin, my shrink, and bartenders alike. I justify this behavior as paying homage to my late grandfather, who once owned a bumper sticker business aptly named ‘One Liners.’ #runsinthefamily
I savor the ability to interact with those whom otherwise I might not have had the opportunity, among them celebrities (@juddapatow), fictional characters (@Lord_Voldermort7) and complete strangers willing to tolerate my venting about my fantasy football team via direct message (@tarahighman).
It is an aviary of birds fluttering about, tweeting their songs, creating creative and social opportunity. I love it and can’t get enough of it and the birds that occupy this cage of expression are diverse–each of them tweeting with a unique individual purpose, all trying to be heard– and motivate my creativity.
Parrot (The Celebrity)– A parrot, or macaw, due to its ability to imitate human voices, is the most well-known bird in the world. We gravitate toward parrots for their often infectious charisma, sociable nature and in many cases, intelligence. Resulting from these extremely marketable traits, they are susceptible to prey and exploitation. They vary in temperament, noise level, communication ability and relations with people.
Engaging with celebrities on Twitter is an exhilarating experience, a virtual autograph or handshake. It also serves as reassurance that a tweet is being read, and gives a glimmer of hope that our existence is noticed by someone other than mom (and hello more followers!!!!). More often than not, celebrities don’t tweet back because either their following is simply too massive (thus they can’t attend to each individual @ reply) or it’s not their style, so tweets to them fall by the wayside and we all feel like idiots for even trying. It takes timing and originality to be noticed, so think wisely before sending.
@TomHanks is an example of the scarlet macaw (rarely tangible), who appears to be on Twitter simply to keep pace with culture. One follows a celeb like him to view day-to-day photos of this seemingly other-worldly figure eating ice cream or shopping; thus vicariously experiencing mundane activities that makes them human, and therefore that much closer to themselves. You still love them for everything they do because they are a celebrity and that’s how we function. Recently, Mr. Hanks tweeted daily pictures of his healing toe nail. (Fear not, his condition has improved.)
@MrHoratioSanz is the best, interacting with his followers constantly and even sending autographed Christmas cards via post! Who does that?! (Other SNL alum- @AnaGasteyer… She’s a riot)
@GarryShandling is a sociable parrot- He makes Twitter exciting because he, like Horatio Sanz, tweets back! He tests out jokes for the sake of reaction and interacts with his “audience.” His Twitter act is visibly comparable to a stand-up routine–sometimes he nails it, other times he doesn’t, but he ALWAYS manages to control his audience. It’s brilliant. Watch it.
Woodpecker (The Comedian or The Writer)– An antisocial, solitary species known for loudly excavating hollow trees in search of sustenance and shelter. These birds are opportunistic.
Comedians and writers on Twitter, much like in “real” life, hammer away at jokes in hope of unlocking a smorgasbord of laughter. They seldom participate in conversation (unless with their inner circle of comedian friends) and tend to use Twitter as a space to finely tune their craft.
@JuliusSharpe, a writer for Family Guy, is my absolute favorite. His tweets are nuggets of gold. Just don’t expect any engagement on his end; he doesn’t tweet anyone. He is purely present to entertain. His tweets are ironic and smart and unearth the sweet sap of life’s common threads, but he keeps to his own.
@RobDelaney, @TheSulk, @MichaelIanBlack @PattonOswalt, @jimgaffifan, @nealbrennan are obvious woodpeckers everyone follows. My other favorites: @corneezy, @joshcomers, @eddiepepitone, @Randazzoj, @albz, @kristygee
Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (@meganamram)– A bird of great mystery. To bird enthusiasts, perceived as a myth and a legend.
@meganamram: A comedian whose tweets run the gamut of everything unfathomable by you or me. She is, at age 24, an anomaly.
Bird-of-Paradise (The Overtly Shameless Narcissist)– Known for its highly-overdramatic mating ritual, these colorful birds rarely go unnoticed. They are also a monogamous species.
Many people–especially celebrities–like to use Twitter as a billboard with which to flaunt every product they touch (including themselves). Seldom will anything they ever say enhance your well-being, creativity or purpose here on Earth. They are monogamous to themselves, their brand and anything that will boost their visibility and/or earnings.
@KimKardashian indisputably embodies this category. She vomits marketing garbage at an incessant rate to her 10 MILLION (how?!) followers. Her dance is vibrant, loud and is clearly knocking her (brand) up.
Owl (The Information Sources)– Messengers and goddesses of wisdom.
Twitter differs from Facebook in that it allows you to emit rapid information about anything, anytime (without irritating your friends & family). If you want up-to-the-minute info, you follow the owls, sit back and let their knowledge rain upon your thirsty mind. There lies a vast selection of people/groups/companies that will provide you with whatever your heart desires: reliable news sources (@TheOnion); favorite fitness guru (@MyTrainerBob); sports services (@NFL); or life coaches (@PauloCoelho), all of whom offer the advice, motivation, or tips you crave to live a better and fulfilled life.
Morning Dove (The Lonely, OPENLY INSECURE Single Girl)– These birds whimper in the night air, often mistaken for the sound of an owl. They are loners with a shrill, distinct cry of desperation.
There is a plethora of these fluttering about in the Twitter aviary. She’s the lonely, single girl who lives with cats, begging to be noticed. She works as a writer in Hollywood and whines about wine, her cumbersome sweatpants, a rarely decadent hair day, Spanx and her unaccompanied drunken Friday nights. She sees her desperate cries as “charming”–after all, she’s beautiful like a dove–but the only way any man will ever put up with her likely involves slipping something into her drink at a bar.
It’s easy to be lonely, but it’s even easier to cry about it–so if self-loathing and abandonment issues tickle your fancy, pull up on your couch with a pint of fat-free fro-yo and join the pity party.
Seagull (The Nuisance)– Recognized for its harsh wailing or squawking call. It scavenges ruthlessly, often displaying signs associated with bullying, attacking and harassing. It also shits on people.
One of the most unfortunately populous subspecies of tweeters who’ll pounce on any opportunity to aggravate the pleasantries of a tweet is the seagull. Should you find yourself being followed (stalked) by this type, you’ll also find he/she (usually a “he”) won’t let any grammatical or syntax error go unnoticed–much like a piece of food accidentally dropped at the beach, provoking a flock to recklessly descend upon it. They don’t know any better. As they fly off, they excrete further nuisances on you, leaving reminders of just how far from perfect you really are.
Fear not, they’re only acting out as a result of their own societal inadequacies. These creatures are clearly starving for creativity of their own, responding the only way they know how– hunting for solace in the mistakes, misfortunes or sullied happiness of others.
Dodo Birds (The Dumb)– Known for their clumsiness and for becoming extinct due to their incapable brains, which prevent them from functioning in civilization.
Dodo tweeters add nothing to anything. They aren’t funny, don’t make sense, ramble incoherently, and will eventually (hopefully) burn themselves out.
However, fluttering about in the Twitter aviary are a select few who are usually quite lovely, yet occasionally suffer from “off days”–and may be mistaken for a dodo if encountered at the wrong time. Here is an anonymous example to spare the feelings of the real idiots:
Mockingbird (The Constant Retweeter)– A bird that mimics the songs of other birds, often loudly and in rapid succession.
This tweeter will seldom add a thought of his/her own, existing solely to echo the sentiment of others via retweets. Often a friend or colleague you’ll hesitate to unfollow out of obligation (or fear of losing a precious follower). These are typically the same people who still send chain emails.
However, in some instances, mockingbirds can be a brilliant commodity, with the shtick of providing the masses with a common, amusing theme (@joemande and @EliBranden are real good at retweeting for the sake of mocking others).
Hummingbird– They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12—90 times per second.
Certain people tweet way too much, forcing you to wonder how they sustain a decent following (or pay rent). It’s exhausting. They can’t stop. They won’t stop. They’re obsessed. They will suck the sweet nectar from your very soul.
Orange Throated Tanager (ME)- Penetrating, deliberate voice. Represents those “birds without a name” and has been written about in a book titled “Parrots Without a Name.” Strikingly colorful and difficult to find, even within a narrow latitudinal range.
Then there is I, the tanager with a following of 256. I tweet one-liners about everything from daily musings to mishaps. I observe the interactions of tweeters, meticulously strategizing when and whom I’ll tweet. The whole psychology of Twitter fascinates me and I am engrossed in the never-ending ingenuity tumbling down my screen. (I follow comedians, and these other gems, also tanagers- @heybeccahey, @rsub27, @laurenne, @themikewhite, @zineelizabeth, @mkstrodel, @nbernabe, @laurenbruno, @korylanphear)
In this vast space, I simply adore the tweeting of other birds. Whether it’s ruthless or not, Twitter lends the birds a place to sing together in whatever tune their hearts desire…