I have never met Biz Stone, Rachel Sklar, Susan Orlean or Jay Rosen, but every morning when I sign onto Twitter, there they are, whispering in my ear with a disconcerting intimacy, telling me about their lives, what they are concerned with moment to moment, their fears and desires. I would have to say that I’m getting to know them on a daily basis, better perhaps than my own husband. Recently when Susan, a New Yorker writer, complained about the humiliations of acquiring blurbs for her new book, I could feel her pain. And when Jay, an NYU journalism professor, and Richard Nash, the former Soft Skull Editor, worried over the future of publishing, I hung on their every word, and chased down their bit.ly and TinyURL links and retweets.
When I compare this Twitter feed to the stream from my real life, I wonder if I would even want this sort of continuous consciousness-updating from my family and friends, say from my husband, for example, who at the moment is worried mainly about his aging parents and making a living in a down economy. The Top Twitterers, though, they are concerned with things much more interesting and current. Recently, when former Huff Po editor and media diva Rachel Sklar was flitting about the social scene, I followed along. And when actor/writer/director Kevin Smith went to that film festival—to say nothing of his smutty posts about sex with his wife—well, I wish I could say that I looked away. I didn’t.
The truth is, I get far too much vicarious pleasure out of tagging along with this crowd of thought leaders and media and tech celebrities, and it feels highly voyeuristic to me. But I refuse to shut it off, perish the thought. Why? Because I am the sort of writer who usually works in more than 140 characters. I am busy churning out two to three essays or long-form blog posts a week, as well as penning assorted poems and stories, and usually maintaining some kind of longer work in progress.