Tweet dissed; Twissed

I got dissed on twitter the other day.  Or lets say I felt like I got dissed the other day.  I know it shouldn’t matter but it did.  I know it shouldn’t hurt, but it did.  I know I shouldn’t care and yet, for some reason, I did.

Here it is. Doug Benson (@DougBenson) comedian, podcaster, movie guy asked me to stop including his name in tweets after I tweeted several things in a row to him.   He didn’t send a giant fuck you message and it certainly wasn’t a personal attack. I’m sure that he could have been cruel or viscious about it, but he wasn’t. He even sent it as a private message so it wasn’t out in front of everybody and that was nice of him. In fact, it was pretty bland as these things go (and even included a smiley face), but, oddly, inexplicably, it hurt just the same.    When I got it, I was really excited because I had an email from “Doug Benson”.  This is a famous guy I find entertaining and I thought I was having some interaction with him.  I’ve seen his movie and listened to his podcasts and followed his tweets and even tweeted to him.  This is so cool.  Oh, wait.  He’s telling to to stop pestering him.  Aww man.

Seems that I’d been treating Twitter like a walkie-talkie and really, it’s more like smoke signals.  It’s not so much a conversation as it is a poster in the sky that says, “This is what I say”.  It isn’t asking for a response.  It’s just a thing.  Do I respond to billboards by the highway?  No.  Do I send a letter to somebody who posts an ad in a magazine that I read, no.  So why would I think that @DougBenson and I were having a conversation? 

Mostly, I think it has to do with who we are;  how we’re built.  Biologically, we are wired to respond to statements and questions.  We have a natural tendency to reply.  It’s normal,  Hell, even our cats answer when we ask if they want some turkey.  But, here’s the difference.  Twitter isn’t being said to me. It isn’t even really said to us.  It is said to the stream and doesn’t expect or even want a response. It took me a while to figure that one out.

The concept of not caring who hears what you say is foreign to me.  When @DougBenson told me to stop including his name in tweets, I was hurt at first.  But then I thought, why be hurt?  He didn’t mean it that way.  He just wasn’t interested in what I had to say. Why would he be? I supposed or assumed that there was a conversation going on because I was listening to him while he made personal or intimate comments on things in his world and those things created an air of familiarity (as opposed to listening to a public speaker like a politician or a clergyperson).     Just because I assumed that relationship, didn’t mean he was listening to me.  Emotionally, it was a strange sort of rejection while feeling stupid for not getting it sooner. I suppose its semi-pathetic of me to even care about it enough to be hurt. And yes, I know, I’ve spent a 1000 times more thought on this I should have.  The intellectual mind knows but the emotional inner core brain still cares and still got stung.

We are wired to socialize and Twitter seems like socializing.  However, Twitter is not socializing, it’s broadcasting. It fools us into thinking we’re interacting with others but we’re not and when that reality intrudes it can be a little startling, unsettling, even disappointing.

I imagine that it would be like a guy who was interested in a girl and over time he’d heard her talking to friends, seen her around, invested some time in the process and developed an attachment, even assuming some sort of relationship existed and then when he finally spoke to her, not only did she not know who he was, but she was a little bothered by the interaction, maybe put off or creeped out and she asked nicely not to be bothered again.  She didn’t do anything wrong, but the guy still felt rejected even though no relationship actually existed.  He had fooled himself into thinking there was one.  Twitter does that.  Facebook too.  You can’t have 200,000 friends.  In fact, we’re not biologically wired to have more than a small handful of personal friends and another 50 people who we know well enough to trust or count on or at least not want to kill them or run away from them.  7 million years of evolution created us as tribal creatures.  Once a tribe gets too big, it usually split into smaller tribes because the resources of survival were harder to supply in bigger groups.  Sanitation, pollution, disease all got worse in bigger groups.  So though we’re hardwired to want friends and form tribes, we’re also not really capable of having 66,420 friends.

We can have 1.6 million followers but that doesn’t mean we want to hear from or talk to them all either.  And think about it from @DougBenson ‘s point of view.  He’s got 1.6 million followers. (correction: Doug has 69,000+.  1.6 million is what Kevin Smith has.  That’s a whole different story.)  If 10% of them (6,900) decided to all respond to him on the same day or ask him a question, or make 6 comments.  He’d be buried in tweets and all he really wanted to do was let us all know he was appearing at the Laugh Factory in Cleveland and there were still some tickets available for the show.

Also, I should be clear.  I didn’t just say hi to the man 6 times.  I made 6 progressively more vulgar comments about Rue McClannahan on the day she died based on an on-ramp like comment that Doug made.  I thought I was being funny but I was also being crude and every time I directed my comments to @DougBenson, his name got attached to my comments in front of 69,000 people all of varying degrees of offendability.  So now we have three really good reasons why he would say, stop doing that. 
Recapping, those reasons would be:
1. Why would he care what I had to say.
2. He hasn’t got the time to respond to even a fraction of his followers and that’s not what twitter is about anyway, and
3. I’m accidentally smearing shit on his name.

OK, so what does that mean moving forward.  I’m not going to stop the twitterverse from being what it is.  I’m not even going to be able to make a minimal impact on how other people view twitter and frankly, why the fuck would I care.  But I follow a handful of comedians or comics or personalities and how I interact or don’t with them has been affected by this little message from @DougBenson “DougBenson: Please stop putting my name in your posts. Got like six in a row from you dude. Cheers. :)”  I’m now mindful or rememberful or whateverful that Doug Benson or Patton Oswalt or Kevin Smith don’t know me from Adam, don’t give I shit about what I have to say, are probably really tired of people who think they’re funny sending what they think of as funny comments and just in general trying to make some kind of association with a famous person in an attempt to be larger than we are.  And that doesn’t have anything at all to do with Doug or Patton or Kevin.  This time at least, it’s all about me.

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12 Responses to Tweet dissed; Twissed

  1. @ThatMarsKid says:

    You know, Gary, I think you are wrong about this. I enjoyed reading your entry, and I agreed with much of what you said and how you said it. Ultimately, however, I disagree with your thesis.

    That Benson spoke respectfully to you is fine and dandy. It still doesn’t mean that his request isn’t somewhat absurd. Twitter is not a personal email site. That is evidenced by the fact that Benson himself has 1.6 million followers. Twitter is a publicly posted, constantly updated, free form communication and networking site. By it’s nature, it is built to facilitate not only interactions between people, but discussions about people, things, events, etc. Doug Benson has done a lot of hard work, and if he is honest with himself, probably a lot of praying or hoping to whatever divinity or karma he holds dear, that he will have people like you know who he is and enjoy his comedy, podcasts, and questionabley edited films about smoking too much marijuana. Having you give a shit enough to think he might like your jokes, and god forbid actually have the nerve to mention his name along-side one of your jokes in hopes that he would find it entertaining, is one of the things that goes along with the celebrity that Benson has obviously put great effort in trying to achieve.

    Telling you not to mention his name on Twitter is akin to asking certain people not to sing along a your concert (might make them sound bad), or not to comment on your politics (might make them seem wrong), or not to bring a sign with a comment to your concert (might associate your name with things you don’t want to be associated with). While people have a right to try to control their image, their online persona, and what their name is associated with, I believe that there is something to be said for being adult enough to let your own words speak for themselves, and not worry about what other people are saying. Is it your right to request that people don’t mention your name? I suppose. But does it also make you seem like an overly-sensitive dick who needs to realise that you are in the public spotlight on a public social networking site with publicly viewable pages interacting with the public and trying to get publicity accross to the public for your publicly performed podcast? Yes, it makes you that too. Sure, you can “Ka block” out all dissenting opinion, jokes that you find to be of questionable appropriateness, and people who want to just say “fuck you” (which I say to celebrities from time to time on Twitter, just to take them down a notch). I think it takes a very sheltered and sensitive, tarty little bitch of a person to do so. If somebody truly offends the hell out of you, just block them so that you don’t have to read it. Don’t expect them to to feel a need to stop mentioning you though. They have every right in the world to comment on you in a legal, non slanderous, non libelous manner.

    If you like what somebody has to say, tell them so on Twitter. As far as I’m concerned, the same should go for not liking what somebody has to say. The strange thing about this is that you, Gary, were trying to be a contributor to a stream of comedy regarding a subject matter that was trending on Twitter. You happened to think Benson might find it entertaining, or better yet that his followers might find it entertaining, and so you mentioned his name. Big fucking deal.

    Doug Benson was just being an easily offended or easily annoyed little bitch. And your jokes weren’t very funny.


  2. Aliza says:

    Just found this post because @DougBenson tweeted it 🙂

    Well-written. Nice insight into the subtleties of relationships in the Internet age. And a good story. You may have screwed up, but at least yr able to write well about it.


  3. Bearijuana says:

    “We are wired to socialize and Twitter seems like socializing. However, Twitter is not socializing, it’s broadcasting. It fools us into thinking we’re interacting with others but we’re not and when that reality intrudes it can be a little startling, unsettling, even disappointing.”

    I cant write a proper reply right now, I’m literally flying out the door, but wanted to give you a quick PROPS for this post. I feel the same way, and am having similar issues with, well, getting only to broadcast and not to receive back from the clouds.

    Anyways. I will return with more soon! Sorry this note is short!

  4. Emanuel says:

    While this is a pretty depressing realization, I don’t think you’re wrong in commenting. While Twitter may not be a means for conversation, it’s definitely similar to your billboard analogy. When somebody posts something, you are free to comment at will, and the usage of his name (which seems to be Doug’s issue) is your method of identifying what it is you’re commenting on. In addition, Doug’s celebrity status means that he got tons of fans and their desire to communicate with him on a social networking website is part of the deal. For him to get annoyed by a fan tweeting him 6 times is harsh and not what I’d expect from somebody as so chill, kind, and accesible as Doug Benson.

    Super interesting blog post though!

    • gmyers2112 says:

      I heard back from Doug after this blog and he was pretty cool about it all. Some of the folks that heard my initial tweets kinda went off in extremes like there were sides to a war, “who does Doug think he is?” “Kill gary as soon as possible”, etc and it really wasn’t anything like that. I was more or less feeling a self generated thing. I was surprised by the intensity of it. I was also surprised that after Doug’s mention I got like a thousand page views for my blog in about 2 hours. Also had a bunch of validation for the feeling and the writing. It felt good. I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

      By the way, I have another blog where I review podcasts. If you’re interested,

  5. Emanuel says:

    Sorry for the grammatical errors, I’m on my iPhone heh

  6. rhiandmoi says:

    I was just thinking along these lines today. I am such a fangirl when it comes to certain celebs (Kevin Smith, Doug Benson, Chris Hardwick, etc) and they are so open with their fans that it starts to feel like you really know them.

    • gmyers2112 says:

      Kevin Smith blocked me from his twitter stream when I said to him, (thinking I was being funny like Stephen Colbert,) “I’m putting you on notice” since a bunch of his tweets had been about merchandise and the street hockey thing and I was hoping for a return to the bat shit crazy of his usualy twit stream. I think the followers as a mass, goaded him to think more of it than I intended (Irony doesn’t work on twitter: Chris Hardwick) and he blocked me. Oddly, that one didn’t hurt as much. I thought it was ironic that the guy who has the “Fleshlight” as a sponsor would be offend by anything I could say, but it didn’t hurt as much. I think if Scott Mosier blocked me, I’d feel it more. Not sure why. I’ll have to examine that at some point.
      Anyway, thanks for your comments. Also, I have another blog where I review podcasts if you’re interested.

  7. Had a similar thing happen to me recently with a different account and blog. Glad to see there have been others!

    Thanks for the post!

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