This is very stream of consciousness. Sorry.
If you caught my last blog, http://ideasorlando.com/blog/oliviathebird-twitter-is-hard/,then you already know I don’t particularly like Twitter. What you might not know, is that I spend a lot of my time not liking Twitter. I see the app on my phone and think about how much I don’t like Twitter, someone talks about how they don’t like Facebook and I’m like “Valid point, but you know what’s worse? Twitter.”, I see a screenshot of a Tweet on Pinterest and I think “God no, not this again, I thought Pinterest was safe! Fly away little blue bird and stay away!”
…So yeah, I’m not a fan. But hating things takes SO MUCH TIME. And it’s really tiring. Like my personal brand (please can we let the “personal brand” thing die and just be people? I guess not, it’s 2018) `cannot keep being “the one who hates social media”. It’s exhausting, inconvenient, and the actual definition of irony. And I don’t have time for that. I mean, I barely have time to…you know…breath, between the blogging and the writing and the painting of goats on fire. (It’s college, weird shit happens, don’t question it).
So how do you solve hate? Woah, okay, that’s a heavy topic maybe for another day…keep thinking about it though because we’re doomed otherwise, hahaha…moving on. How do you solve…personal hatred of a bird based social media platform? I…. still don’t know? And, what is science’s answer to not knowing things? Experimentation! (Probably, I mean at some point, I think there are pieces of the scientific method that come before that or something-listen it’s been a long time since I took a science class). So, I will be conducting a year long, and maybe longer, experiment. I’ve been inspired by the author John Green who’s quitting social media over all for the next year, for his own reasons. I can’t do that, for obvious reasons, so I am inverting the experiment. I will be focusing on Twitter, the bane of my existence, and instead of quitting it I will be forcing myself onto it. Every damn day.
Why are you doing this, Olivia? Good question. I don’t really want to. I like not being on Twitter. But, unfortunately, I’m curious. I am doing this for a number of reasons:
- As previously mentioned, I no longer have the time or energy to hate Twitter. The idea of it taking time and energy to dislike something will not make sense unless you have ever devoted a lot of your time and energy to disliking something.
- I want to see how closely the negative experience that I, and so many other people, have on Twitter is connected to how we curate our personal accounts. Will carefully picking out who I follow and not being afraid to unfollow people who engage with hateful content dramatically improve my experience on the platform?
- On my old Twitter account, I sometimes did engage in political discourse, mostly just shouting into the void, but that is something I am going to actively try to avoid. I don’t think digitally shouting into the twitterverse will do anything good, and I could easily get the same the short-lived catharsis from texting a friend or journaling. I would be glad to hear what others have to say, perhaps you think the “impulse political tweet”, as I’ve termed them, does good, but I think they’re unproductive. The question is, now that I am forcing myself back onto this platform, will I be able to avoid the impulse political tweets, or is there something so intoxicating about getting your opinion out in public that I will be drawn into it again?
- What happens when you become a public figure? Obviously, I am not a public figure in the way that a celebrity or online creator is. My account has one follower, my best friend, and it is lovely. But, everyone with a public account is a public figure in a way. We make posts that are open for the world to see. Will I begin to put much more thought into what I tweet than I would if I were having a normal conversation? Will I end up being one of those people who says things that I do are “on brand”? The idea of branding a person via the social internet has stuck around in my mind since I read the book An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (check it out, great book), and I want to see what happens. Not that I want to turn myself into a brand, that makes me a bit uncomfortable, but I’m a bit scared that I already have? I certainly present a different side of myself in different parts of my life. In my professional life I am the Olivia who understands things about social media so that my co-workers don’t have to, the Olivia who knows how to write witty, vaguely philosophical blog posts, the Olivia who can communicate with people eloquently. On my Instagram I am artist Olivia, Cosplayer Olivia, Traveler Olivia. I am nerdy, creative, self-deprecating but still an expert, and perhaps a little mysterious. In my day to day life…god, I hope I’m myself (whatever that means), or this identity crisis just got way deeper. And, I hate to say it but I might already have like five “personal brands”? As a writer, I build characters. It’s what I do. I can’t even start a project till I get to know all my characters. Am I going to accidentally design myself? Have I, simply by virtue of designing this Twitter account as an experiment, already created a personal brand?
So, after that very unscientific stream of consciousness mess, we get to the details. I’ve deleted my old Twitter account. I will go on this new Twitter I set up every day in 2019, (and the remaining days in 2018 because honestly, why not just start now?). After that, I can keep it going if want to, or just go back to just not Twittering. The goal is to engage with the platform positively and productively. I will post a combination of original tweets and retweets, because just retweeting everything is the cheater’s way out. I have already followed a selection of accounts that do not break my brain, and so far, so good. It’s been odd to start going on Twitter as myself again, or whatever this version of myself is. Because let’s be honest here, my last point is basically a forgone conclusion. We’re never exactly complete people on the internet, we can’t be, we only share snippets of our lives. Is that a bad thing? What does it mean to really be yourself? These are questions for another time. But I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that this is a bit of a…I don’t want to say artificial, but…designed project. I’m about to use the word design a lot, but honestly, it’s what seemed to fit best.
The fact that I literally just explained to you all how I created this twitter as an online experiment is essentially me telling you:
“Look at this thing that I literally just spent a weekend designing for myself. I’ve branded it as this interesting online experiment that’s also an exploration on the way we use social media and the way it uses us. As you can see if you go to my Twitter page, the bright blue used in the header gives it a fun, bright look, but the word ‘experiment’ gives it credibility. My picture is happy, but not too happy, pretty, but still looks like a real person, and my eyes and makeup match the header, to pull it all together. My bio is written in third person, and it describes the experiment, not me, which makes it official”.
*Gasps for air*, okay, that was a lot. But it’s all true. I made the colors match on purpose. I had my friend help me pick the photo, it’s pleasant but not wild, and not severe or in cosplay like most of my pictures, and the lighting is very flattering to my eyes, which are probably my defining feature. We think it looks like an author bio photo. I wrote the bio to sound official, with just the right amount of wit, and I made “The problem with this experiment is that it might make me use Twitter more” my first tweet, because it is a good start to the narrative. I. Thought. That. All. Through. Isn’t that kind of evil geniusy? I mean there’s something so different between branding a product and branding a person. One is just what you do with products, if you want them to go anywhere, and one is…kind of scary? I mean I have 100% branded myself already, I am now realizing. At least I’m telling people? I don’t know. What are your thoughts on creating your online identity and engineering a narrative? I think it’s dangerous. It’s an easy step towards dehumanization. Not that that’s happening to me, I have a very small following of one person, but it’s a thing. When we make people more than people, it’s easy to treat them like they’re not people at all. Still, I would like to try and be a “real person” inside of this designed…thing. This “branded experiment”. Even if it will inevitably only be a partial view, I will try to be genuine.
I’ll probably be writing some more about this as it goes along, so you’ll stay updated. Not that you have to care at all, feel free to not. But, if you want to talk me out of it, or just see how it goes, I’m @TheOExperiment on Twitter. Click the link for some high quality content. Well, I can’t promise that. Click the link for some…content.
I will leave you with this quote from the book Paper Towns,
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”