This piece was originally published at The (Duke) Chronicle where I am writing a biweekly column for the Spring 2014 Editorial Pages.
I once tweeted at Twitter asking them for a job at their company. Jezebel had just written a post about the tech company’s “woman” problem (no women on the board), so I naturally jumped at the opportunity, linking the article and tweeting: “I am a VERY skilled tweeter…Hire me @Twitter?”
It was totally a joke. But the thing is, it really wasn’t. I would gladly work for Twitter. Actually, I would love to work for Twitter. I’m basically like a walking Twitter testimonial, singing its praises. And the question: Facebook or Twitter? Please. I know where my loyalty lies, and I can get a bit defensive about it.
You could say my love for that little blue Twitter bird runs deep.
I was crowned “Twitter Queen” at my internship this past summer. Since most of my job meant perusing feminist Twitter for pitch ideas and newsworthy topics, my tweeting and Twitter networking reached an all-time high. By the time I woke up in the mid-morning in California, it was early afternoon on the East Coast, which meant I was already behind on the news cycle. So every morning, I would get up a few hours before work in order to scroll through my mainstays over coffee—Jezebel, Salon, Slate, Feministing, The Atlantic, New York Magazine—and the hundreds of writers, feminists and social justice organizations tweeting, writing, hashtagging and activist-ing across the web.
At my peak, I was reading at least 30 articles per day, and of course sharing them all on Twitter. I was even allowed to tweet from the @MsMagazine account, which was pretty sensational—except for that one time I accidentally retweeted a Lena Dunham tweet thinking I was on my personal account. Luckily, the situation was rectified almost immediately (key word: almost). And I’m absolutely sure none of Ms. Magazine’s 50,000-plus followers even noticed my little mishap! (Which if you’re aware of how Twitter actually works, is nothing short of very, very wishful thinking.)
These days, I hardly go an entire day without tweeting or consistently sharing articles accompanied with short excerpts from the pieces or bits of commentary. My Twitter feed also serves as my primary news source, where I consume the majority of my media, and I take note of what the journalists, writers and activists I admire are reading and discussing. I study bylines. I “follow” influential thought-leaders, editors, writers and academics. I dissect the tone and style of particular news outlets. I’m a regular reader of the publications and news outlets where I want to someday contribute, finding the staff writers and freelancers whose words resonate and inform my viewpoints. I balance my retweets with original tweets and always tag the twitter handles belonging to the author of the articles I share. I use Twitter to network and connect with other like-minded people. I reach out to successful writers and media activists for professional advice—conversations that sometimes even happen offline or through email.
I have about a million tabs open on my browser at any given moment and hordes of articles I email to myself to read en route to class or in line for coffee. I’m always reading, consuming, writing, thinking and sharing my opinions. In other words, I’m always expanding my feminist writer-ly voice and challenging myself to think in new ways—to see myself, like my opinions, as evolving and ever-changing.
Over the last year or so, Twitter has become a place where I’ve been able to find my “beat.” I’ve been on Twitter since the middle of my freshmen year, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I began tweeting about race, gender and other issues of social justice—slowly and sporadically at first, until suddenly my opinions gained momentum and grew stronger and more vocal. I’ve watched my(self) and my voice take different form over social media. It seems silly at first to say that we are what we tweet, but I know personally, this certainly holds true.
On Twitter, I have packaged myself in under 160 characters and my opinions in 140 characters. It’s now, in a sense, like a quasi-creative resume, weaving together both my personal and professional selves in an authentic way that speaks more fully to my personality as well as my interests, passions and accomplishments.
I hate the idea of a person becoming his or her own “brand,” but it’s a brand that only guarantees one thing—a unique perspective that makes you you. The “brand” part just means that you have readers or a community that value the things that you have to say. And the hope is, of course, that with time and maturity, you can tap into your “brand” power to reach larger networks and more and more people.
But the thing about social media is you are the one molding and shaping it to the likeness of you. It’s an aesthetic and a choice—one that’s driven by how you want to communicate yourself and your image to the outside world.
Through my own personal platform, I embody a “brand” that speaks to more than a set of bullet points on the page. I am a writer, a change-maker, a cultural critic, a millennial feminist, an INFJ, a “media-ist” (OK, the last few might have come straight from my Twitter bio). And yes, admittedly a compulsive article sharer and incurable Twitter-holic to boot.