You Are What You Tweet

By Chelsea Kuchik

I‘ve been a part of the twitter-verse for some time now, but the relationship has been touch and go. In freshman year of college, my social media peak (I’m talking 3-4 Facebook posts a day. Yes, I was that girl.) a friend recommended I use twitter as an outlet for all of this “expression” I was spamming via Facebook.

Yes, the truth was harsh, but honest. I eventually came to really like the beauty of twitter, the ability to subscribe yourself to all these little blips of…whatever, really.

I could follow @seinfeldquotes, @sprinkleschicago, @evilhag (Aubrey Plaza), and all my friends in one place. Scrolling through for a good laugh or a possible codeword for a free cupcake while sitting on the train, or being able to post my sassy witticisms made the app something I thoroughly enjoyed.

Or at least, that’s how it was.

As a journalism major, or just a young adult slowly hurtling towards the “adult world,” things started to come into perspective. I started to learn twitter wasn’t just a place to dump Facebook status overflow, or sassy things you didn’t want everyone to read.

For one assignment I had to try to reach a journalist for an interview. I wrote a nicely worded and well thought out email, and waited. No response. I told my teacher and she quickly responded “Tweet ’em! Retweet and comment on their stories! Tweet ’em!” Let’s just say it was a shock. A 40-something year old woman was telling me I was using social media wrong. The world spun.

Long story short, I had no clue what to do. How could I reconcile this sassy twitter persona, who I felt was me, with professional writer Chelsea, who was another version of me? I wasn’t sure I could be both in one place. Could the girl who tweeted “omg everyone is a dumb idiot today” (not my most eloquent moment, but it was a rough day, okay?) also tweet links to her articles and comment on important hard news?

I did what any normal 20-something would do, avoided the problem. I created a second account.

Is it harder to manage? Sure. Do I feel safer from future employers or teachers judging me based off of my “trying to be as funny as Mindy Kaling but not quite there” tweets? Definitely.

Overall, I feel like my twitter experience does mirror many topics covered by Nicholas Carr and then disputed by Clay Shirky. On the one hand, my on/off again relationship has ebbed and flowed with my beliefs not only as a person, but as a fledgling journalist. Do I want to think that I know the news because I read a headline? (Because let’s be honest, how many times do you actually follow that link?) Do I really want my thoughts to be turned into English mush, where even hard news can look like a tween tweeted it?

Not only that, but like Eli Pariser said in his TedTalk, am I subscribing to a universe where I only hear what I want? No wonder I was trying to tweet like Mindy Kaling, hers and similar twitters were all I was really following.

So maybe I am only seeking what I want, but maybe that’s why twitter is so popular.

Maybe my “avoidance” of the split-personality issue was actually the answer to another problem. By subscribing to two universes: funny and professional, personal and public, I haven’t completely eliminated my information bubble, but I’ve certainly had to expand it.

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4 comments

  1. I’ve totally felt the world spin when it comes to twitter and professors telling you you’re using it wrong! It is kind of crazy that twitter, a sass outlet, has turned into something used heavily by business and communications professionals. Making two accounts for something can be a lot to manage! I have two Instagrams (one is personal and one is my foodie account @thecollegekitchenista) and I feel like one of them usually falls by the wayside.

  2. This is a good post. Tweeting professionally is defiantly a scary thought when you have another persona online. When faced with this dilemma I always have to ask myself, will my readers take me seriously if they see a glimpse of my personal life? Because to see our personal social media account would mean to reveal our flaws, true ignorances and to subject that to public criticism.
    Who really wants to deal with that when tweeting about the news?

  3. FANTASTIC!!! I completely understood and related to this post. I was set in this mental state that whatever I posted on social media wouldn’t really come back to me or change the way my peers or employers looked at me. Not until a few weeks ago did I realize that the pictures I would post on Twitter or Instagram were being connected to my name when I Googled myself. It is amazing how useful and beneficial social media sights like Twitter can be, but they can also drastically effect the image of yourself that you would like to portray. Twitter brings up a debate of whether it is better to self express or to put on a mask of professionalism. I have had to use my Twitter to reach out to teachers, promote my job, and aid my career; but, in-between these more serious tweets I still have posts that are my brain vomit that I think is funny. This type of social media takes a lot of balance and self recognition. I constantly need to be aware that what I am posting now can be viewed by others later.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys, I’m glad I’m not the only one living a social-media double life. It does seem like the internet can become a mask for some people and sometimes a way too open window for others.

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