#1ReasonWhy More story != more words My mystery flight

My mystery flight

(0) October 19th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be a part of something I think is pretty cool, I was given the reins of the @WeMelbourne twitter account as a guest tweeter. It’s kind of like @Sweden, where each week a different person is behind the account, tweeting about their life and what they’d like to get off their chest. Except more Melbourney. Trams ‘n shit.

I’d watched the @Sweden account from afar for a while, watching how different people drove it, how people drove it differently, and the shitstorm that inevitably ensued when people didn’t “like” what “Sweden” was saying this week. I found the whole thing quite fascinating.

So when I heard about one for my first love (Melbourne), I got super excited. Here we’d see in black and white the beautiful melange of what made Melbourne, Melbourne. Curated by the exquisite @stokely, we’d see the diverse (and sometimes not), the sophisticated (and sometimes not), and the progressive side of Melburnians. Or sometimes not. Either way I was keen to see how our city represented itself. Complicated beast that she is.

What I wasn’t expecting, was how I reacted when I was in the driver’s seat.

Now try and quell the little bit of vomit that’s trying to creep up your throat when I say this, or try to tame the scoff that will attempt to escape from your lungs due to you being super cool with your “outdoors” and “real lives” and stuff, but twitter is really important to me. Twitter is a reach to the outside world. Twitter is where I keep in contact with many of my “IRL” friends, where I make new ones, where I learn things, where I get support when I feel alone, and also (very importantly) where I get basically all of my paid work from. It’s friends I’ve made and relationships that twitter has strengthened that actually put food on my family’s plate. It may come as a shock to some given that some of my tweets contain bulging swears or talk about things that you wouldn’t want to bring up in a board room, that I consider it at times a work space. At times. Then there’s pictures of funny stuff and amazing reaction gifs.

This has a lot to do with how carefully I’ve curated my twitter feed. The old saying “Your twitter is what you make it” (I think it was Aristotle or something) is not only entirely true, but it’s a reminder to prune every now and then, and hone in on what’s good for you, what’s not, and what you want more of in your eyeballs. My twitter feed is a careful blend of games stuff, politics (only the kind I agree with, I don’t “hate follow”, there be dragons), writing stuff, kid stuff, pop culture stuff, and some comedians (or people even funnier than comedians, ‘sup @Brocklesnitch). It’s changed over the years, and it’s constantly evolving even now. No one’s twitter feed is the same, it’s deeply personal and people use it in many different ways. Some only broadcast, some only consume, some only follow celebrities, some only follow friends from IRL.

The weirdest thing about being behind the @WeMelbourne twitter account for a week, was the sudden realisation I hadn’t curated this twitter feed. That sounds like it shouldn’t have that much of an effect, but it really really did.

It was like stepping onto foreign soil. Not being sure if you speak the language. Not much was familiar, and I was being exposed to much more than what I was used to in my little bubble. I didn’t know many of the faces lined up on the left-hand-side of the feed. I didn’t recognise very many names. I missed certain personalities from my feed. I missed the avatars that I would stop scrolling when I saw, to check what they were saying. (We need a name for those scroll-stoppers. How about scroll-stoppers.)

I saw RIGHT WING tweets! (mostly being retweeted by others, for various reasons, not necessarily endorsements) and MEAN people and slut-shamers and fat-shamers and all these things I didn’t have to worry about very much in my feed. (It’s weird how easy it is to forget The Right even exists, once you carefully lance all traces from your life.) People talked about The Right in much more detail than I allow on my feed. Probably a self-preservation thing.

I saw people blaming videogames for bad things happening in society, and not actually taking the piss.

Before this sounds like some kind of spoiled-white-girl’s Vietnam flashback, it wasn’t bad. At all! It was quite fun. I saw some great tweets I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and have thusly followed their authors. I’ve had people who were very kind to me while I was behind the account continue to be kind afterwards back in my Twitter country. Overall the experience was lovely. @Stokely was kind and professional and organised, and I had no qualms. It wasn’t a feed-full-of-Right, it was just a balanced look at the world — and the twitter world I’ve created myself is stacked. I became very aware of this (and totally cool with it, incidentally).

But nevertheless I was genuinely shocked with how I taken aback I was by this foreign twitter feed. It was paralysing. “Normally I don’t shut up on twitter, what gives?”, I said to myself, like a crazy person. I was busy the week I took over, which didn’t help, but I also didn’t know what to tweet about. I barely tweeted. I did a terrible job of being interesting, and an even worse one at giving any insight into my life. When I tweet from my account, I know generally how it’s going to be received (in that it won’t be a complete stab in the dark). I know my twitter feed’s “personality”, and the personalities contained within it. I have comfort in the fact if I’m being sarcastic about something, most people following me will know I’m not being serious because they have a vague understanding of who I am and what my beliefs are. I was stripped bare of this when tweeting from @WeMelbourne, and I didn’t expect it to stop me tweeting as much. Normally twitter is like an extension of my hand, and the bullshit just floooooows like molten lava from a really dumbass volcano. No, this wasn’t “my” twitter.

It was like the first day at a new school. I felt like I was being looked up and down, and that was completely unexpected. There was an obligation and a responsibility to not piss anyone off, that I don’t think I feel in my own twitter world. The context in which I exist, is normally enough to avoid any large conflicts, and unless you’ve been following me for a while, you don’t have much context for who I am. There’s ample room to tread toe. I don’t think I’m a “bite sized” tweeter. I think I’m a big messy package.

I think if I were to do something like this again, I would keep in mind that it isn’t just tweeting from a different account, like I’d hastily assumed. Shit can get weird, yo. I lost myself a little bit and became concerned with how I’d be received. That isn’t something that takes up too much of my grey matter on my own personal twitter account. I don’t tweet from a vacuum, I tweet from a carefully constructed safe space, and I tweet knowing that I’m not alone. I tweet knowing that generally those who have made the decision to follow me have done so for whatever-the-fuck their reasons are, and have consented to falling down that particular rabbit hole.

There was pressure that came with people not consenting to follow ME. They followed the account on a promise, an idea. It made me realise how easy it is to take for granted the little community you build yourself on your social networks. I think I like tweeting better when people have consented to listening to it.
It’s a bit like real life really. As much as I like to pretend it isn’t, sometimes.

If you ever get a chance to take the reins of a new or different twitter account, try it. Because honestly it’s truly bizarre. I didn’t think it would be that confronting at all. If you think you’re familiar with twitter, you’re probably really only familiar with one twitter feed. If you want to fuck shit up, start a new one (Or give app.net a go. Come say hi) and go in a completely different direction and see the change not knowing where you’re going will have on you.

A bit like a mystery flight. Who knows what you’ll need to pack.

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