This is Part 5 – and the final chapter – of the story of our erstwhile pseudonym, where the writer realises that it’s not all that bad and quite fun at times.
The previous four parts of my recount and reflection on my time of being a pseudonym might have turned people off from going away from protected teacher twitter to a place where you are challenged, abused, targeted, insulted and bullied. The upside, however, far outweighed the downsides.
It was a positive experience to build relationships with a range of people – both famous and non-famous – getting a good idea of what makes people tick and the sort of things that they are interested in on a daily basis. You can develop a well-rounded portrait of others through their Twitter usage that no other text form can provide. It’s often more engrossing than any other text around. Without the pseudonym, I would never have had the freedom to be able to engage on a level where I could feel free to express my views on a range of issues and therefore build in depth relationships.
A Soap Box
I enjoyed the attention that having a pseudonym persona and a few thousand followers could give me. I would be lying if I said that having that attention was a minor, paltry thing. While it made me wary about what I would say to an extent, for the most part, having the attention spurred me on to make comments that would resonate with people and have them think about various issues. It was also great in the later times to be that rare animal, the political tweeter who was also a GWS Giants supporter, being able to promote the bold, crazy brave idea of starting an AFL team deep inside rugby league territory. It’s also been good to connect with those other brave souls who are supporting the club.
Curated News Source
It was good to become a kind of news sources for people, being able to select the best news, funniest stories, pictures, etc, and retweet them and read responses to them. Or, add my own comment to them, which I eventually did more than just retweet. I also became a useful source to ask about certain issues when people wanted to know things, especially about Western Sydney, music, football. It was good to be helpful.
It was fun most of the time, looking at the humour that springs up around the issues of the day and various entertainment events. What used to be a lot of fun were the hashtag games, where people would try to outdo each other with puns and cultural references. My personal highlight was creating #bobkatterfacts and seeing that take off. It was also fun to have conversations and jokes with like minded people. Even better would be reading the conversations of others.
One place where Twitter has an advantage over every other form of social media is in the ability to discover friends with similar interests, even very obscure ones. I was able to find a range of friends in relation to classical music – even down to having great conversations about Martinu (never heard of him, don’t worry, most people haven’t); to TISM (still my favourite band) and everything in between. I also found a whole group of people to chat to about AFL, which is hard to do in most workplaces and social circles in NSW. Twitter has a way of letting you find all sorts of people that you would not normally be able to find in the real world around each one of us. I have had so many conversations that I had waited 20 years or more to have.
Being Able To Reach Out
There’s a lot of unhappy people on Twitter, as you find out the longer you hang around and make solid friendships. It’s often a tool for expressing anger, upset, anxiety and there’s always ears ready to listen when needed. In that, it’s a valuable tool, even if laced with the problem that there might be judgemental people ready to write people off and make a hurtful comment. Fortunately, however, the block and ignore function is easy enough to use on such occasions – asking for a helpful ear is a way of discovering just who the good people are.
There was also a chance for me to help lonely people at New Years’ Eve and Christmas Day with starting the #nyeathome hashtag and being amongst those who started the #xmasathome hashtag, which provided people with a chance to connect to others who might be also at home, alone on such days. Some of the comments and reactions I read in relation to those made me appreciate the medium and its potential. Also made me happy to be able to help with whatever crazy ideas come from my head.
Long Term Real World Friends
I am grateful to the range of friends I have made on Twitter. Tweetups are excellent and I highly recommend them. There have been a few negative experiences, which can happen with any social interaction, but for the most part tweetups are excellent because you already know each other’s views and background before you have even met. So the tweetup gives you a chance to forget the small talk and plunge straight into meaningful conversations. I have gained many sweet, fantastic, joyful, supportive friends through the pseudonym’s life and I hope to maintain those friendships for many years into the future. Most of these friends have small followings and may not tweet all that much, but that doesn’t matter in the end. Not everyone is as mad and frenetic as me on Twitter, which is probably a good thing.
I have contemplated walking away from the persona encased in my pseudonym many times. I feel a pressure, anxiety, concern whenever I go online and start reading my timeline or tweet. I get annoyed when people are rude, abusive, arrogant, haughty, dismissive. I get easily bored with repetitious political fights, twitter storms. I get tired of my own sometimes irrational, often emotive responses to things that shouldn’t get to me, such as being ignored. As wiser heads tell me – and I understand in my more reflective moments, there’s no need for people to respond to you – it’s their life, their account, they can do whatever they like with it. I just get tired of it and the emotions these kinds of things create within me.
What has stopped me from walking away in the past are the friendships I have built up over the time – though the closest friends will connect with me on Facebook and a real me Twitter account. Having walked away from the pseudonym for the last week, however, I have also missed the interactions and fun element encased in the interactions I have had, but mostly the interactions of others. It’s very entertaining when you follow enough people who can conduct crackers of conversations. It is probably that reason that will bring me back to using the pseudonym – to be able to engage and interact with a range of interesting, great, warm and lovely people. Losing that would be a greater pain than the minor annoyances I feel. The breaks I will intend to take, though, will be important. I need to manage the way I use it, to realise how I will react before things happen. In other words, I will just have to learn to get over myself. Also, the breaks will allow time to not be plugged into what appears at times to be like The Matrix – this other world of appearances, fast pace, mechanical interactions and glittering lights.
But really, it isn’t really the Matrix, even if Keanu Reeves appears a fair bit and there’s a heap of wannabe Morpheus figures about. It’s a lot funnier than the Matrix, a lot warmer and welcoming if you just relax and enjoy the experience.