by Jeremy Au Yong
So you caved.
After weeks of being pestered constantly, and being made to feel like an ancient freak stuck in the stone ages, you finally succumbed.
You hopped on the bandwagon, followed the herd, drank the Kool-Aid.
You signed up for an account on the currently in vogue social networking platform Twitter.
You stare at the empty box on the web page. Above it is the number 140 indicating the number of characters you have left to write. Next to that, the question: "What are you doing?"
Well, that's easy enough. What you are doing is racking your brain for something to post on Twitter.
Of course, you can't say that. That's lame and potentially millions of people might be able to read it. So, as a temporary measure, you decide to go with a simple "Hi".
You thought awhile about going with a "Yo" or "What's up", you know, for some street cred, but decided that it was too contrived.
At any rate, you tell yourself the "Hi" is only temporary. Once you think of something better, you'll de-tweet (verb: meaning to delete a Twitter post, or to get a bird to shut it) and put up a new one.
You play around with a few lines, trying your best to sound witty, funny and contemplative without appearing to be trying to sound witty, funny and contemplative.
Of course, this is difficult because you, personally, are not a witty, funny, contemplative person. You, personally, are tofu-bland. Strangers would definitely not care what you are doing.
But it doesn't matter. You decided early on in the process that you would embellish the truth a little on Twitter. After all, everybody lies on Twitter.
But what to lie about? All of a sudden 140 characters doesn't seem so short.
After a few more minutes testing out some random thoughts, all of which sounded way funnier in your head, it's time to take a break.
You have Tweeter's block so it's no point trying to force it right now. Perhaps it might help to look through the tweets of others.
You start by scrolling through all the little posts written by your friends, the people whose lives and opinions matter to you. Maybe you can see how they write interesting posts and derive some inspiration.
Still no inspiration. That witty, funny, contemplative problem you are currently grappling with seems to have infected all your friends.
There's no ground-breaking thoughts or updates here, just a bunch of stuff that you cannot imagine them wanting to tell you in real life.
Person: Hello, yes, I just called to tell you that I haven't had a drink all afternoon because I'm so busy with work. I must remember to sip water.
You: Uh, and why are you telling me this?
But of course, the info is not just for you, it's for anybody willing to listen. It's like if you were to buy a new designer handbag. While you only really want to annoy your close friends with this info, you wouldn't mind if a whole bunch of completely random strangers also knew.
Anyway, you didn't buy a handbag recently so you can't tweet about that. Also, you've been sipping water regularly so that's out.
Okay, perhaps you can write about - HOLD UP! What's this? It says on screen that somebody is following you. "Woo hoo!" your heart gives a little yelp. "That must mean I'm interesting. I knew my "Hi" was a work of pure literary genius."
But now, the pressure is on.
Prior to this, you could still experiment with the medium, take your time. Now, you have an audience. You must not disappoint.
You need to come up with a solid post, something that can live up to the lofty standards set by "Hi".
Perhaps you could make some insightful comments about current affairs. You had heard that Twitter was a powerful medium for discussing current affairs.
You decide to write about the death of actor David Carradine. He was found dead in a Bangkok hotel in what one might call a compromising position, and there are suspicions it was a sex game gone wrong.
So you type: "RIP David Carradine. What a way to go."
Sure, it's the natural reaction of any normal human being to the story but you somehow feel like you gave your own spin to it. A search to find out what other people are saying about it proves you wrong.
Thousands upon thousands of people have said exactly the same thing about him. In fact, the only thing you learn about David Carradine from Twitter that you haven't already read elsewhere is the sheer number of people who think it was a heck of a way to go.
You delete the post, dejected. As much as you did not want to abandon your sole follower, you log off. You dismiss the entire thing as an impersonal, shallow stream of exaggerated self-centred consciousness.
You tell yourself you are not that narcissistic, and you are too good for Twitter. You go and write a snarky column about it.
But all the while, secretly, deep down, you know the main reason you are so bitter is that you have no followers. You'd be happy if only more people would read you, follow you and maybe drop in to twitter.com/jaytweeting to say "Hi"... please.
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